Stephen Ritz: A teacher growing green in the South Bronx | Video on


Stephen Ritz: A teacher growing green in the South Bronx | Video on

“A parent and teacher in the South Bronx, Ritz has noticed his students getting larger and more sickly over the years, not to mention the fact that they’re parsing fewer options for earning a living. So Ritz began working with his students to grow “indoor edible walls,” beautiful living murals, full of greenery. Not only does food from the walls get served in the school cafeteria as well as in local shelters — creating the walls has become a full-scale business for Ritz’s students. The project has snowballed into designing an office wall in Boston, building green roofs in South Hampton, making gardens for 100 other New York City schools and even installing a large wall in Rockefeller Center.”

So, how do we get more projects like this in schools? They are perfect for challenge/problem/project based learning and they teach kids better ways of interacting with the world around them. I would like to do some of these at home and in my classroom. And ordered a small one today. 

But people do things in unorganized fashions all the time. I informally taught the kids in my neighborhood about the chickens and the garden I planted. After reading Erin’s post the other day about day camps I am thinking of having a little neighborhood kid’s garden next summer. The kids can help build a frame, build the sheet mulch, plant the seeds or starts, and tend the garden. We could even have a little vegetable stand and the kids could split the proceeds at the end of the season.

What do you do to influence the next generation, outside of your immediate family?


3 thoughts on “Stephen Ritz: A teacher growing green in the South Bronx | Video on

  1. Wairissa, this guy blew me away! I watched the TED talk and immediately posted on my FB page. And I’m going to reblog this! I am doing what I can to change people’s minds, one neighbor, or one viewer of my “Late Bloomer” episodes at a time. I want to have the energy to do more. This guy’s energy and ideas are boundless. I have to think bigger! Stephen has/had a small army of helpers, so you can accomplish so much more that way. When my son went into a new school last year, I went to the principal with a proposal to get solar panels on the roofs, I suggested a garden, pulling up the asphalt, creating a more permeable area. Nothing happened. I lost my enthusiasm when faced with bureaucracy. Fortunately, I found gardening in my own front yard and created “Late Bloomer.” The hundreds of people I am reaching now will become thousands or millions, and all those people will affect other people, and we can regain some control over our food.

    • It’s very difficult to change institutions and, all too often, the principal isn’t really the one to talk to! If you’re still interested in helping with a project like that then research grants, find a like-minded teacher, and write the grant together. Grantors would like the publicity you’d be able to give them and grantees are short on time and energy so would love the help. You’ll notice that his helpers are kids who can’t get out of it (although I don’t know why they’d want to) or people who can benefit from the publicity themselves (businesses and politicians). It’s very hard to get help in a classroom or with a project. Ask around when school starts – you may yet be able to plant some seeds at the school. 🙂

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