Spring Harvest Festival: Special Guest Steve Ritz Hosted by Green St. Louis Machine
Students of Local Inner City Gardening Program Prepare Recipes for Celebrity Teacher
Steve Ritz to speak at school and take part in harvest
Stephen Ritz, founder of the internationally recognized Green Bronx Machine, will be in St. Louis Monday, April 3rd for events with the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club and its sister collective, the Green St. Louis Machine (an indoor, vertical gardening program).
Spring Harvest Festival
Ritz will attend the Spring Harvest Festival at Mathews-Dickey at 5 pm, featuring meals prepared by the student gardeners from their yield for parents, family members, teachers, and members of the Club’s enrichment and arts programs. Before the evening activities at Mathews-Dickey, Ritz will visit Grand Central Arts Academy Middle School students at 1:30 pm.
“Our Green St. Louis Machine works to develop youth from the inside out to become whole and healthy individuals,” said Mathews-Dickey President & CEO Wendell Covington, Jr. “In fact, the aeroponic gardening program has increased student interests and number of students who enjoyed eating fruits and vegetables by 35%, empowering them to grow and live healthier lifestyles.”
About Stephen Ritz & Green Bronx Machine
Stephen Ritz is a South Bronx teacher/administrator who believes that students shouldn’t have to leave their community to live, learn and earn in a better one. Moving generations of students into spheres of personal and academic successes they have never imagined while reclaiming and rebuilding the Bronx, Stephen’s extended student and community family have grown over 40,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx while generating extraordinary academic performance. His Bronx classroom features the first indoor edible wall in NYC DOE which routinely generates enough produce to feed 450 students healthy meals and trains the youngest nationally certified workforce in America. These students, traveling from Boston to Rockefeller Center to the Hamptons, earn living wage en route to graduation. In 2016, Ritz was awarded the inaugural Martin L. Mathews award for Nonprofit Leadership.
About the Green St. Louis Machine
The Green St. Louis Machine, founded and led by Mathews-Dickey in partnership with NextGen Growing, began with sponsoring Tower Gardens, curriculum and volunteer support for area schools: Northside Community, Bertha Gilkey Pamoja at Cole and Grand Center Arts. This year, the program added St. Roch Catholic Elementary School and continues to work towards a long-term goal of expanding to several more sites. More support is needed for the fall and interested parties can call 314.679.5228 to help.
Each Green St. Louis Machine site uses compact, state-of-the-art aeroponic growing system that fit easily in the classroom. Instead of growing plants in traditional horizontal rows, this system grows plants vertically. The flexibility and complexity of the garden layout creates new opportunities for children to learn by doing, thinking creatively, problem solving, and engaging with other students who share similar interests.
This type of engagement in the classroom gives students a sense of responsibility and belonging while teaching them the importance and effect of healthy food choices; it also leaves at-risk youth little free time to find crime-related and other counterproductive activities. In January, following an invitation from Ritz, several members of the group along with chaperones traveled to New York to visit Ritz and the Green Bronx Machine. The students got to cook with a former White House chef and see first-hand the different technologies used, learning happening in the Bronx classroom and the changes its making in students like themselves. While in the Big Apple, the Green St. Louis Machine also took in a Broadway play and did a bit of site-seeing including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, a news station set, Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET).
For information, contact Bill Fronczak at 314.679.5228 or email@example.com