In spring of 2005, a class of 8th grade students harvested and ate their first salad in HFHK’s pilot program at Springer Middle School. We’ve come a long way since then, with more than 35 HFHK garden schools serving thousands of Delaware students each year. All the while, our organization’s mission has reflected my personal mission of giving children the opportunity to experience the joy of growing and eating garden-fresh vegetables (while learning science!). Have we succeeded? You be the judge! Here are just a few examples of what students have said over the years (their actual words, some punctuated for clarity):
“Radishes are my new favorite vegetable!” “The turnips are SO DELISH!” “The most awesome is when we harvested the lettuce. I can’t wait to eat fresh lettuce at lunch.” “I really enjoyed harvesting spinach. I am really happy that I am going to try spinach again. I have not had spinach in a long time.” “This salad is good; we don’t get salad at home” “I like all the veggies. They taste sweet, juicy and crunch.” “I wanted to thank you for guiding us when we were harvesting the lettuce. It was super fun! I want to study biology when I grow up.” “It was my first time gardening and I loved it.”
Like the vegetables the children grow in their school gardens, HFHK started as a tiny seed and grew into a beautiful plant. Many, MANY people have nurtured HFHK along the way, giving it the sunlight, water, nutrients and air it needed to grow. I am deeply grateful to all of them, including farmers, chefs, school nutrition services leaders, school principals, teachers, students, HFHK Board of Directors and committee members, HFHK staff, especially Lindsay Lancaster, individual donors and institutional funders, and my friends and family. (I wish I could name you all, but that would take the entire newsletter!)
As I retire, I would like to think that our collective efforts have left Delaware a better place for children to grow and thrive, and that HFHK’s progress towards that end will continue for many, many years to come.
– Thianda Manzara, PhD