GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Schools in Warren and Washington counties are producing tomatoes, chili peppers and microgreens, thanks to a growing slate of programming powered in part by Glens Falls Hospital. The students themselves are the growers, and are getting fed in the process.

Glens Falls Hospital’s Health Promotion Center has been working with Granville, Whitehall, Johnsburg, and North Warren School Districts to bolster farm-to-school programs and bring more agricultural learning to classrooms. Students from preschool up to 12th grade have been learning about agriculture in relation to science, careers, and special education – and it all starts with student gardens.

“(Students) have loved watching the garden grow,” said Mrs. Monaco, a teacher at Mary J. Tanner Primary School in Granville. “Having the tower garden has also helped make the students more aware of the variety of growing things like the spring flowers and flowering trees outside our window. They often ask if they can plant the seeds from fruit they eat at lunch.”

Students at Mary J. Tanner get regular visits from agricultural students from Granville Jr. & Sr. High School, who mentor their younger peers in maintaining the tower garden at work there. The Mary J. Tanner preschool has its own grow tower, showing kids the inner workings of aquaponics.

The garden fits in differently at each district. North Warren uses growing as part of its health classes, with plans to involve the community garden that has been dormant since the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnsburg features indoor grow trays in several classrooms. In Whitehall, trays and towers grow produce at the high school cafeteria, special education classroom, and elementary science lab.

At all four participating school districts, student-grown food goes right back to the school community. Harvests go to school cafeterias, meal programs, and even classroom taste-testing. In 2023-24, Fort Edward and Hudson Falls School Districts are set to join in.

Programs like those at Mary J. Tanner are getting a financial boost through the Health Promotion Center. The center offers initiatives on healthy schools, tobacco-free communities, and cancer prevention.