Category Archives: School Garden News

American Heart Associations recommends reduced intake of added sugars

A new American Heart Association scientific statement provides specific guidance on limiting the consumption of added sugars and provides information about the relationship between excess sugar intake and metabolic abnormalities, adverse health conditions and shortfalls in essential nutrients. The statement, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, for the first time, provides the association’s recommendations on specific levels and limits on the consumption of added sugars.

Added sugars are sugars and syrups added to foods during processing or preparation and sugars and syrups added at the table. High intake of added sugars, as opposed to naturally occurring sugars, is implicated in the rise in obesity. It’s also associated with increased risks for high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and inflammation (a marker for heart disease), according to the statement’s lead author Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., associate provost and professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

“Sugar has no nutritional value other than to provide calories,” Johnson said. “Consuming foods and beverages with excessive amounts of added sugars displaces more nutritious foods and beverages for many people.”

The statement says that most women should consume no more than 100 calories (about 25 grams) of added sugars per day. Most men should consume no more than 150 calories (about 37.5 grams) each day. That’s about six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and nine for men.

In contrast, the statement cites a report from the 2001–04 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that showed the average intake of added sugars for all Americans was 22.2 teaspoons per day (355 calories).

Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the number one source of added sugars in Americans’ diet, according to the statement. “One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 130 calories and eight teaspoons of sugar,” Johnson said.

The American Heart Association recommends a dietary pattern that is rich in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish.

“This new statement expands on earlier recommendations and gives consumers more detailed guidance by recommending a specific upper limit on added-sugars intake,” Johnson said.

In addition, the statement recommends that no more than half of a person’s daily discretionary calorie allowance should come from added sugars.

Discretionary calories refer to the number of calories “left over” after a person eats the recommended types and amounts of foods to meet nutrient requirements, such as fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish. Added sugars, alcoholic beverages and solid fats — including saturated fat and trans fat — are typically considered discretionary calories that are to be included after individual daily nutrient requirements are met.

“It is important to remember that people’s discretionary calorie ‘budgets’ can vary, depending on their activity level and energy needs,” Johnson said. “So, if you can’t live with the recommended limits on your added sugars, you’ll have to move more.”

For example, a moderately active 51–55 year-old woman who eats 1,800 calories per day and maintains her weight would have about 195 discretionary calories per day and only about 100 calories, or half that amount, should come from added sugars. In comparison, if that same woman, still maintaining her weight, was more physically active and burned 2,200 calories a day, she could consume 2,200 calories a day, and would have a larger discretionary ‘budget’ of about 290 calories. About half of that amount, or 145 calories, could come from added sugars.

To ensure proper nutrient intake in the diet and to limit excess calories, Johnson said people should be sure foods high in added sugars are not taking the place of foods with essential nutrients or increasing their total calorie intake.

She recommended that people use their added sugars “allotment” as a vehicle to enhance the flavor of otherwise nutrient-rich foods. For example, choosing a nutrient-rich dairy product, such as a flavored yogurt or a sugar-sweetened whole-grain breakfast cereal, would be a better choice than a nutrient-void candy.

Grants for School and Youth Gardens

The National Gardening Association works with sponsoring companies and organizations to provide in-kind grants to projects that actively engage kids in the garden and improve the quality of life for their communities.

To be eligible for these awards your school or organization must plan to garden with at least 15 kids between the ages of 3 and 18. (Mantis Awards are also open to non-youth organizations.)
Please note that all grant winners are required to complete a year-end impact report (see individual grants for details).

Click on the links below for information on each grant program.
Winning one grant does not disqualify you from winning another within the same year, so please apply to all that are appropriate for your program!

2009 Hooked on Hydroponics Awards
Deadline: September 18, 2009

2009 Healthy Sprouts Awards
Deadline: October 17, 2009

2010 Youth Garden Grants
Deadline: November 2, 2009

2010 Heinz Wholesome Memories Intergenerational Garden Award
Deadline: January 10,2010

2010 Mantis Award
Deadline: March 1, 2010

School Gardens in the News

1) Los Angeles, CA
A new crop of School Gardens

Even as state funding wilts, support for school gardens is growing…

It may seem counterintuitive to start new programs in this economic climate. Summer school was canceled at many campuses this year, the $1.7-million California Instructional School Garden Program grant to the Los Angeles Unified School District has expired, and the budget crisis has left countless teachers unemployed.

But this groundswell, largely sparked by parent and community interest — and perhaps some inspiration from Michelle Obama’s White House garden — is finding support in all the right places.

2) Oregon City, OR
Planting Seeds of Change

Anna Meyrick, the director of Oregon City’s Hera Community School, is always on the lookout for new ways to educate and engage students at the alternative school, which seeks to encourage students to make positive changes through community involvement, education and art-based projects.

3) Brooklyn, NY
Let it Grow

This summer, my daughters and I are getting our hands dirty, thanks to their schools and our city. We may live in an asphalt-dominated landscape, but with minimal effort we have found green spaces where we can practice the good, old-fashioned art of gardening.

4) Brooklyn, NY
New planter stolen from schoolyard garden in Park Slope

Parents at Park Slope’s Public School 107 were shocked last week after a planter, recently purchased for their vegetable garden was stolen from the schoolyard.

“It’s a school, for God’s sake,” said parent and garden coordinator Michele Israel at the Eighth Ave. school.

School Gardens in the News

1) Brooklyn, NY
From School Yards to School Gardens

Students at 10 Brooklyn schools will be toiling in the soil this summer and fall, growing vegetables to feed their classmates as part of an effort to get student-grown foods into the school cafeteria.

“We want to eat the stuff we grow,” said Aidan Israel, 7, a student at Public School 107 on Eighth Ave. in Park Slope, who has been helping cultivate peas, kale and basil in the school’s yard. “It tastes fresher than the stuff in the store.”

2) Tasley, VA
Program introduces children to gardening benefits

Nine years ago, the Eastern Shore Master Gardeners Chapter began, composed of trained volunteers whose purpose is to help educate our community about the art and science of gardening here on the Shore.
Since then eight more classes have received training. Each class develops a unique project designed for public education, such as the historically accurate colonial kitchen garden at Ker Place in Onancock, and the Pungoteague Elementary School gardening project.

3) Fayetville, NC
Homegrown education: School program teaches gardening skills

Jares is one of hundreds of young people participating in the Communities in Schools FirstSchool Gardens program of Moore County. The program began two years ago. Today, there are five schools growing vegetables and fruits with four more gardens planned.

4) New Zealand
Sustenance & sustainability
Sometimes Marfell hits the news for the wrong reasons: chemicals found in a children’s playground that was once a city dump, a school sports field ripped up by vandals, the dodgy connections of some residents.

But it leads the pack in other respects. Last June, Marfell was the first New Plymouth suburb to plant a community garden. A year on, things are flourishing.

School Gardens in the News

1) Newark, NJ
Growing minds: Planting the seeds for healthy living in youngsters

Students at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark are tending to seeds and seedlings they planted this spring, a small group of them continuing their watering and staking duties even now — during their summer break — to ensure good harvests later this summer and into the fall.

2) Parsippany, NJ
Storms test Randolph school’s rain garden

Michelle Land’s middle school students probably did not envision their newly dug rain garden being immediately put to the test, but this wet June has proved the project a success.

3) Cumberland, MD
Rain Garden Planting at Mountain Ridge High School

Approximately 80 students from Mountain Ridge High School Environmental Science and Biology classes along with volunteers from the Georges Creek Watershed Association participated in a rain garden planting at Mountain Ridge High School this spring.

4) Wausau, WI
Summer Program Teaches Kids to Enjoy Vegetables

For many children, eating their fruits and vegetables can be a challenge, but the Wausau school district has found a way to get their students excited about them. Their summer program ‘The Magic Bean’ has third through fifth grade students learn about healthy nutrition, while growing the food themselves.

5) Columbiana, AL
From Fertile Minds come fresh foods

Market-goers snatched up fresh-from-the-earth carrots from the Fertile Minds stand at Pepper Place Market June 27.

“We sold out of the carrots, tomatoes and okra before we knew it,” said Jake Woodham, a student at Indian Springs School.

6) Coos Bay, OR
Slug by slug, weed by weed

Part of Katie’s job this summer is to collect data on the garden’s growth in a journal. Each week after watering and weeding, she grabs her notebook and tape and “measures the plants and stuff.” She carefully records the height in both inches and centimeters in her journal – a school requirement of the summer gardener.

7) West Linn, OR
Sunset community helps garden grow

Volunteer support for the program has experienced a growth spurt this year, with as many as 45 families taking on weeklong shifts in the garden, just west of the school. From mid-June to the start of school this fall, they’ll pull weeds, double-check the irrigation system and tidy up the beds.

School and Garden Related Newsletters

I subscribe to a number of school and garden related newsletters/email lists that some of you may want to subscribe to. They are:

1) Botanical Interests Seed Company Newsletter

2) California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom E-Newsletter

3) California School Garden Network (Sowing and Growing Newsletter)

4) California Regional Environmental Education Community  (CREEC Network) Newsletters are available on website

5) GardenABCs.com Monthly Ezine

6) Kids Garden News (Kidsgardening.com)

7) Kitchen Gardeners International Newsletter

8) Life Lab Science Program

9) School Gardening–LA County Residents e-mail list.
E-mail Yvonne Savio (ydsavio@ucdavis.edu) and ask to be added to School Gardening–LA County Residents email list.

10) School Gardening–Non-LA County Residents e-mail list.
E-mail Yvonne Savio (ydsavio@ucdavis.edu) and ask to be added to the School Gardening–Non-LA County Residents e-mail list.

11) Southern California Regional Newsletter
National Gardening Association (also by Yvonne Savio)
See Regional Reports Zone Map to get newsletter for your area.

The Seedfolks of Room 324

Over the course of two weeks students wrote, filmed, and directed this short film after reading Paul Fleischman’s novel Seedfolks. These stories are the students’ stories created on location in Mr. Hughes’ English class at Virgil Middle School in Los Angeles, California.

Put this book on your summer reading list, you’ll thank me in the fall.

Seedfolks at Amazon.com

Amazon.com Review
Sometimes, even in the middle of ugliness and neglect, a little bit of beauty will bloom. Award-winning writer Paul Fleischman dazzles us with this truth in Seedfolks–a slim novel that bursts with hope. Wasting not a single word, Fleischman unfolds a story of a blighted neighborhood transformed when a young girl plants a few lima beans in an abandoned lot. Slowly, one by one, neighbors are touched and stirred to action as they see tendrils poke through the dirt. Hispanics, Haitians, Koreans, young, and old begin to turn the littered lot into a garden for the whole community. A gift for hearts of all ages, this gentle, timeless story will delight anyone in need of a sprig of inspiration.