Eating fruits and vegetables can provide numerous health benefits, from improved vision to substantially reduced risk of cancer and strokes. Some parents have trouble getting their children to eat leafy greens or vibrantly colored peppers, but Morgan Osborn ’14 is trying to change that by educating teenagers about how great produce can be. As an intern with the Burlington School Food Project, Osborn is teaching children various aspects of farming and how to prepare meals with fresh ingredients.
The Summer Internship Support Fund III, administered by Hamilton’s Career Center, is helping to support Osborn’s internship.
Fifty-one percent of Burlington High School students are on free or reduced lunch plans, and more than 30 different languages are spoken in the school. Osborn is showing students where vegetables come from, how they are grown and “what fresh food really looks like.”
Osborn is also collaborating with The Champlain Valley Food History and Production program as another part of her internship. Here, she is teaching eight incoming high school students about Vermont’s food history and current production practices.
The group has studied a variety of topics including fermentation, industrial food processing and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Osborn added that they have taken several field trips to locations such as dairy farms, grain companies and the Intervale Community Center to pick wild mustard seed, mushrooms and other edible plants.
Every school in Burlington’s district has a community garden; some are simply a few raised beds while others cover a half-acre of land. Osborn is working with a team that calls itself the Food Fighters who, rather than throwing meals across cafeterias as the name could imply, are spending the summer tending to these community gardens.
Osborn is bringing her personal interest in ecological engineering to the classroom and teaching her students about permaculture. This farming system involves self-sustaining environments that can reuse waste to maintain themselves. Osborn hopes to bring more permaculture techniques to both the school gardens and surrounding farms, as they reduce soil nutrient depletion and require less human labor.
Rather than simply listing why vegetables are so great, Osborn said “I realize it’s more about relating to the students and making the topics more accessible,” when speaking about her new teaching experience. Upon graduating, she wants to continue working with students and educating them about the benefits of farming their own food. Osborn encouraged anyone interested in a similar career path to pursue individual projects, like researching new farming techniques and maintaining a garden plot. She believes that “personal enthusiasm in a topic can make all the difference,” when speaking to a class.
Osborn is a graduate of Holy Cross High School (Conn.).