The Greater Beverly YMCA recently accepted a $5,000 donation from the Beverly Chamber of Commerce to bring raised garden beds and an associated science curriculum to the city’s elementary schools. The money was raised during the Chamber of Commerce’s annual golf tournament on June 10.
The garden project is part of “Be Healthy Beverly”, a collaborative initiative to improve the health and well-being of Beverly citizens. It is funded through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is led by the Greater Beverly Y in partnership with Beverly Hospital.
“The ‘Be Healthy Beverly’ collaboration has representation throughout the Beverly community,” said John Somes, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, in a recent announcement. “It's good to see a group of people come together that want to make a difference in encouraging healthy living. The Beverly Chamber of Commerce’s sole purpose is to support not only the local businesses but also our local community.
Somes added that having a great school system also reflects on the business community, "making Beverly a great place to work and live." The Beverly Chamber of Commerce, board of directors and staff are committed to supporting and making a difference within our community, he said.
The “Be Healthy Beverly” committee is comprised of representatives from the YMCA and city government, as well as Beverly Hospital, Beverly Bootstraps, the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, the Food Project and Children’s Hospital, among others.
“We’re so thankful to the Chamber of Commerce for their donation and the support of everyone on the ‘Be Healthy Beverly’ committee,” said Judith Cronin, executive director of the Greater Beverly YMCA, in a recent statement. “We are truly making a difference in the lives of young children, ensuring they have access to healthy fruits and vegetables through the salad bars, and now teaching them about growing their own foods and the nutritional science behind healthy eating.”
Last year, “Be Healthy Beverly” brought salad bars to the Beverly public elementary schools, aiming to give kids a fresh and nutritious choice for their lunches. Creating raised garden beds is the second phase of the project.
Through a partnership with Green City Growers, three beds will be installed at each elementary school. Green City Growers will also visit all third grade students throughout the year to teach students about gardening and growing their own foods. These lessons will match up with science, math and social studies curricula for that grade level.
The money raised by the Chamber will fund the program from the ground up. Garden beds, soil, seeds and the curriculum will be covered from these funds for a number of years. Children will learn about importance of working together from the beginning from planting the seeds, weeding, watering and harvesting, skills they can use throughout their lifetimes.
“I met with the committee a few weeks ago and the Green City Growers to discuss the program and curriculum. I was instantly sold,” said Somes. “The children and the elementary schools will greatly benefit from this educational program. Children will learn about gardening, nutrition and teamwork. In addition our elementary schools will be able to offer this great program for years to come.”