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Baltimore City Schools promotes healthy lifestyle through Great Kids Farm program

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Posted at 5:01 PM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-29 20:12:15-04
In a greenhouse, Baltimore City students are snipping, drying and watering microgreens.
 
The floor is slick, and you can smell the freshly cut produce, "it smells kinda onion-y, spicy, some words you don't normally associate with salads," Jourdan Johnson said.
 
Johnson is with about a dozen other classmates who are participating in the Great Kids Farm program.
 
"We had a vision and really worked hard to get to this point.... We're not where we want to be, but we're a long way toward reaching that goal," Michael Thomas, the Director of Career and Technology Education, said.
 
The 33-acre farm originally included a school and foster home for African American boys, started by Reverand George Freeman Bragg. This was back in 1912.
 
City Schools purchased the property in the 1950's, and turned it into a horticulture skills center and nature study in the 70's.

The students would, "watch birds, study water quality, and discover a natural world beyond their urban neighborhoods," according to their website.

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The vision of creating what we see today, started in 2008. Volunteers and students helped change the landscape of the farm and created handicap-accessible garden boxes, a huge sunflower garden and planted trees.

Seniors from Carver High School say they're thankful for the opportunity and think this is a fun way to learn. 
 
The microgreens are boxed up by students and sent to City Schools across Baltimore to feed classmates, a process the students find interesting.
 
In the kitchen, it's all hands on deck, while students from Forrest Park cook a healthy lunch.
 
Something health officials feel more families need to practice. 
 
"We're kind of in a crisis mode," Doctor Kari Kindschi with MedStar Health said. 
 
Dr. Kindshi said childhood obesity has tripled over the last thirty years in the U.S. 
 
"We do see that there is a connection and a correlation between poverty and overweight or obese children," Doctor Kindschi said.
 
Back at the farm, instructors have the same goal, to bring this number down.
 
"For us it's the introduction to these things that they might not have access to, you know because we have food deserts in our city," Thomas said.
 
At Great Kids Farm students see plants from every stage, seed to table. After each session, students take what they've learned along with kits back to the classroom and even bring ideas, like planting their own garden, home.
 
This gives them life skills to continue to eat well and cultivates their interest in these healthier alternatives.
 
"I want to open up my own restaurant, getting my name out there basically. I want celebrities coming to eat at my restaurant," Student Tre'quan Fenner said.
 
Every student in the kitchen had their own dream and what they would do with the abilities they've acquired here at the farm.
 
"Food is a passion for some people and an art-- so it's a good thing," Student Nahja Owens said.
 

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