In early May a group of Middle school students at The Ursuline School in the Bronx (New York) helped put in 4,000 fruit and vegetable plants at the Food for Others Garden. A couple of weeks later the group returned, inserted support sticks for the plants and planted 500 sunflowers. Fast forward to July, rather than giving in to the “summer doldrums” a common affliction among teens, these students have been devoting a part of their vacation mornings to harvesting the fruits of their Spring labor, including collard greens, basil and jalapeno peppers, which will provide fresh fruits and vegetables to their neighbors in need.
Ursuline’s service project is in partnership with The Food for Others Garden, a part of the non-profit Green Bronx Machine, founded in 2004 by Stephen Ritz, a Bronx public school teacher. Ritz was the keynote speaker at Ursuline’s March symposium on “global hunger and food justice.” School administrators thought that Ritz’ project was “a perfect fit” for a student “hands-on” learning experience not only about global hunger but the hunger that exists in their own communities.
Located on a re-claimed city street, the Food for Others Garden is 120 feet long x35 feet wide, with a planting capacity of 20 rows of plants, with 26 to 38 plants in each row. Close to 6,000 pounds of fresh produce may be harvested this year, including eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, raspberries, and grapes, which is donated to a food pantry affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York Catholic Charities.
Although the end of summer is approaching (as well as the planting season at least in the Northern Hemisphere) now is the time to follow the lead of our young Bronx Catholic students and plan a community garden to answer the call to “feed the hungry.” Many metropolitan areas and small municipalities are eager to grant planting space to community activists as a means to combat hunger.
Please use this link to access additional information on Green Bronx Machine and the organization’s school projects aimed at helping others.