Eagle students find it’s easy to eat green | VailDaily.com

Eagle students find it’s easy to eat green

Matthew Earle | Special to the DailyBrush Creek Elementary School fourth-grade student Sterling and his mother, Rene Winnegrad.

EAGLE, Colorado – Brush Creek Elementary School students are eating kale. Voluntarily. Happily.

They’re not in detention or anything.

Kale’s a vegetable and it’s really, really good for you. The students actually grow their own kale, and lots of other vegetables in the school greenhouse, as part of the Fresh Approach program.

Kim Bradley heads the school’s Green Team. She was talking Thursday night to a group of parents and supporters in the school cafeteria, as they enjoyed a meal comprised mostly of food grown by their children’s hands.

It’s not complicated; it’s just a little work. Students plant and grow vegetables in the school’s greenhouse, harvest them, and eat them. It’s like the Little Red Hen without the naysayers.

“Kids plant the seeds, see the life cycle and it ends up on their plates,” Bradley said.

With Fresh Approach, entrees and side dishes are cooked from scratch. The lunch line now features a self-service all-you-can-eat fresh fruit and vegetable bar, say Ray Edel and Tony Cardona, with the school district’s nutritional services department.

When Brush Creek started herding kids toward healthy food instead of stuff with so many preservatives it has a half-life instead of an expiration date, no one was quite sure what would happen.

Bradley leaned in toward Thursday’s crowd and confided her first revelation last fall.

“I put kale in the salad bar and they’re eating it!” Bradley said.

Whether they knew it or not, Thursday’s group was eating healthy, too. The pasta sauce was made from scratch and the beef was organic. The salad items were grown in the greenhouse a few yards away.

It’s part of an overall push by Brush Creek Elementary to be as green as possible. They launched their campaign on Earth Day 2009 when every tied a plastic bag to their waist and carry around all the trash they generated that day.

At the end of that Earth Day, they dumped all their trash in an enormous pile on a soccer field.

Principal Anne Heckman promised if they could reduce the amount of trash, they’d get no homework papers for a month. They’d still get homework, it would be electronic, not on paper.

Well, everything in life is a matter of the proper motivation, and it’s good to have your paradigm pushed. The trash pile shrunk like it was made of wool and someone left in the dryer too long.

It’s good for the kids and the planet, Bradley said.

“The goal is to turn all this over to the kids,” Bradley said.

When they started, there wasn’t a recycle bin in the building. Now, you can’t throw a Mountain Dew bottle without hitting a recycle bin. Come to think of it, with Fresh Approach you can’t buy Mountain Dew in the school any longer.

“If it can be recycled, it can be recycled here,” Heckman said.

Communication is done largely on e-boards and e-newsletters.

“It saves thousands of pieces of paper every day,” Heckman said.

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