Quarterly Mission Message: Growing A New Appreciation for Healthy Food

Quarterly Mission Message: Growing A New Appreciation for Healthy Food


RACHEL DOHERTY: You guys
are doing a great job pollinating those flowers. That helps get the pollen
from one flower to the next, so then we get tomatoes. Look at what happened last
time you guys were out here and did this. SPEAKER 1: Rachel
Doherty and her students at Mesabi East in
Aurora, Minnesota, are enjoying lessons that don’t
come from a page in a book. SPEAKER 2: It’s hands
on and a lot of kids like to be hands on. SPEAKER 1: But rather
the satisfaction that comes from
digging in the dirt. SPEAKER 3: There’s so
many different plants to learn about. SPEAKER 1: The
students are benefiting from an innovative program
that combines skills in gardening and horticulture– RACHEL DOHERTY: Great job guys. SPEAKER 1: –with a growing
appreciation for healthy food. SPEAKER 4: It tastes
pretty good, the tomatoes. And the best part about
it is learning about it and watching it grow. And then, when it
starts to ripen, you’re so excited to try it. RACHEL DOHERTY: I started
working for the school then, a few years
ago, and realized that a lot of my
students hadn’t even thought about planting a
seed much less understanding the word propagation
or germination. SPEAKER 1: At
first, the students grew plants and veggies in
an empty, sunny classroom. Then the school district
purchased this greenhouse space, which allowed
for expanded operations, such as growing microgreens for
students to sample at school. RACHEL DOHERTY:
It allowed us then for our students to be able
to taste anything from popcorn sprouts to broccoli sprouts. And it was just a
great way for them to understand some really
quick nutritional ways for them to try new things. SPEAKER 1: Along with
vegetables and herbs, the students learned to
grow flowers and succulents, selling them in the community
to raise funds for more seeds and supplies. Rachel is quick to point out
that community support has been crucial for the program. RACHEL DOHERTY:
Without Essentia Health being able to support us this
way, none of this would exist. JENNA BALLINGER: I think the
partnership between Essentia and Mesabi East is very strong. SPEAKER 1: Jenna Ballinger,
an Essentia Health Community Health Specialist
based in Virginia, says Essentia welcomes
the opportunity to promote healthy lifestyles
in healthy communities. JENNA BALLINGER:
We also gave them some money recently to get
a larger hydroponic system. And everything from that will
go into a new refrigerator they bought as well with
some funds that we gave them. And so they’ll be able to grow
things, keep things fresh, and then put them
into their salad bar or into their school system. SPEAKER 1: This summer,
Rachel and others are expanding on the
farm-to-school concept, making connections with local
growers who will tempt students with fresh veggies that will go
into their lunches next school year. RACHEL DOHERTY: So we have
a couple of local producers and farmers on board to bring
in some fresh, local produce, anything from beets to
potatoes and carrots. Our students are really looking
forward to beet cake this fall. SPEAKER 1: The program also
supports Essentia’s mission to make a healthy difference
in people’s lives. SPEAKER 5: We should probably
try to spread it out, shouldn’t we? RACHEL DOHERTY: Kids are
learning more than just the connection of seed to soil. SPEAKER 1: 11th grader
Maddie Herzog agrees. MADDIE HERZOG: If you’re
like mad or sad or something, you can just come here and
then all those emotions are all gone. SPEAKER 1: Whether it’s
therapeutic or encouraging healthy habits and
responsibility– SPEAKER 4: It’s good
for your body instead of eating a whole bunch
of junk food and stuff. SPEAKER 1: –the students’
experiences here teach them valuable life lessons. MADDIE HERZOG: The plants,
you help them grow, and then the plants
help you grow.

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