ELMONT, NY – Eight students from Martin De Porres School in Elmont spent Monday morning helping staff from Franklin Hospital and the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Office of Community and Public Health plant an organic vegetable garden that will serve nearby St. Boniface Human Services food pantry, the health system announced today.
These students got a free lesson in how to plant a garden from Bernadette Martin, head of LI Greenmarket, and they learned about the importance of organic vegetables in their diets from Nancy Copperman, RD, director of North Shore-LIJ’s public health initiatives. This garden will serve as a nutrition learning laboratory for the students and a center for community health education regarding the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. About 85 percent of Martin De Porres’ students hail from the five boroughs and have not had many opportunities to plant gardens.
“Having that hands-on experience and ownership of growing something of their own is a great experience for our students,” said Edward Dana, executive director of Martin De Porres School. “We are so grateful to Franklin Hospital and the North Shore-LIJ Health System for all that they did to make this possible. And we look forward to continually working on this garden with our students and seeing the fruits of their labor.”
The organic vegetables that will be grown in this community garden on the campus of Martin De Porres School, called The Unity Garden, include tomatoes, peppers, kale, romaine lettuce, carrots, cilantro, basil and parsley, among other things. The flower beds for the garden were donated by Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, whose engineering personnel spent 20 hours building the flower beds and working on the garden. Both Franklin Hospital and North Shore-LIJ’s Office of Community and Public Health donated materials for the garden including soil.
The St. Boniface Human Services food pantry serves about 250 people and families in the Elmont area each month. Giving these people access to truly fresh, organic produce was important to Helen White, Franklin Hospital community relations manager, which was why she reached out to St. Boniface’s food pantry.
“Everyone should have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and we are so excited to partner with these groups to provide this resource for the people who depend on St. Boniface’s food pantry,” Ms. White said.
Sr. Evelyn Lamoureux, DW, coordinator of St. Boniface Human Services, was elated to have this fresh vegetable source to offer to the families she serves at the food pantry.
“Being able to see people and families enjoying their fresh-picked vegetables will be so rewarding,” Sr. Lamoureux said. “I am looking forward to seeing all that the garden grows.”