Getting fresh, local food into Montgomery schools

Sunday, January 9, 2011; 8:12 PM

In the Jan. 2 Metro article "Frustration over school gardens takes root," Michael Birnbaum did an excellent job of describing the resistance that many Montgomery County teachers and parents have experienced when trying to bring vegetable gardens into their schools, not to mention the far more welcoming attitude of neighboring school districts in Virginia and the District.

But the situation is far from hopeless. After months of concerted pressure, the Montgomery County Public Schools administration has finally caved: The gardens will be allowed, and MCPS staffers such as Sean Gallagher at Facilities Management and Laurie Jenkins with the Smith Environmental Education Center are doing yeoman's work to release new guidelines for vegetable gardens, hopefully this month.

The resistance has always come from the top - and we now have the opportunity to change that. As the Board of Education searches for a superintendent to replace Jerry D. Weast in June, one of the top criteria must be the candidates' enthusiastic support for the good-food movement in schools - which means not only hands-on teaching tools such as vegetable gardens but also bringing more fresh, local food into our lunchrooms. This is one area where Montgomery County's otherwise fine schools have lagged behind the rest of the nation for too long. It's about time it changed.

Gordon Clark, Silver Spring

The writer is project director of Montgomery Victory Gardens.

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