School gardens help grow a culture of health

Traverse City proclaims School Garden Week.

In schools throughout the country, students are busy planting and tending to their school gardens. According to the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census, over 7,000 school gardens have sprouted up from northern Maine to the islands of Hawaii, an increase of over 40 percent from previous Census reports. Traverse City is home to more than ten school gardens and recently proclaimed May 16-20 as “Traverse City School Garden Week.”

In recognition of the first ever school garden week, Michigan State University Extension and Groundwork Center FoodCorps service members hosted a daylong school garden planting “extravaganza” at Traverse Heights Elementary School. In addition, a brief all school assembly was organized to welcome Mayor Jim Carruthers to formally proclaim school garden week.

Principal and school health champion, Amy Six-King enthusiastically introduced the concept of a proclamation to her elementary students. “A proclamation is a very important thing! In Traverse City, we believe that gardening, healthy eating, growing your own food, learning about nutrition, and being physically active is extremely important and it’s so important, that the leader of our city is here to make a proclamation.”

Following Principal Six-King’s remarks, Mayor Carruthers congratulated the school on maintaining such a beautiful school garden and headed out to the garden to help students transplant some of the many vegetable and herb plants donated by local businesses.

The school garden proclamation helps to confirm and support the great work already happening in many schools like Traverse Heights Elementary. The proclamation serves to elevate the importance of school gardens and contributes to greater community awareness and a positive culture of health. 


Community partnerships are critical for school garden success. Supporters raise their garden trowels and plants to celebrate Traverse City School Garden Week!

(From Left to Right) Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers, Sarah Eichberger (MSU Extension), Gary Appel (Traverse City Area Public School, School Board), Meghan McDermott (Groundwork Center), Hannah Fernando (Traverse Bay Intermediate School District VISTA), Bonnie Gotshall (Traverse City Area Public Schools), Mikaela Taylor (FoodCorps), Stephanie Cumper (FoodCorps), Juli Tiesworth (Traverse City Area Public Schools) and her daughter.

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