Tag: Stephen Ritz

School District Launches Pilot Program for Vertical Farming

Big Bear City, CA, August 11, 2014 – The Big Bear Valley is keeping step with what’s become a national mainstream trend: growing local, organic food. Last April, educator Stephen Ritz brought his message of healing the food system to the annual Lighthouse Summit–inspiring many audience members to ditch fast food in favor of more fresh produce. Known as the Bronx Gardener, Ritz taught his students in New York to grow vegetables in the classroom with vertical gardens, producing both healthy meals and jobs for youth. Last week, he brought his commitment back to our community to help install tower gardens at select classrooms in the Bear Valley Unified School District. The District used general unrestricted funds to buy 12 tower gardens, complete with energy-saving T5 grow lights, at just over $1,300 each (totalling $15,779). The tower gardens were distributed among the five school sites: Big Bear Elementary, Baldwin Lane Elementary, North Shore Elementary, Big Bear Middle School and Big Bear High School. There are several advantages to these “edible walls.” Most noticeably, using aeroponics eliminates the need for soil. The tower structures are made from food-grade plastic, so they’re free of the harmful components found in agriculture-grade plastics. Growing vertically also uses up to 90% less land, and because the nutrient solution is recycled, up to 95% less water is used than with conventional organic farming. The result...

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The Bronx Gardener: Changing Landscapes and Mindsets

Big Bear Lake, CA, February 9, 2014 – The Big Bear Lighthouse Project’s Vision Summit is something hundreds of people look forward to every year. In fact, it sold out in 2013, headlined as it was by the bestselling author and farming philosopher Joel Salatin, whose mission is to “develop economically, environmentally and emotionally enhancing agricultural enterprises and facilitate their duplication throughout the world.” For this year’s Summit, the Lighthouse Project has chosen a keynote speaker who’ll build on Salatin’s message that healing the food system can also heal communities. Stephen Ritz–aka “The Bronx Gardener”–is a green innovator, social entrepreneur and a featured educator in a book released last fall called American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom. His work has been featured on TNT, Today, ABC, CNN and Forbes, and he has a green education and innovation blog on the Huffington Post. Ritz says the biggest bullies in school are junk food items like mac-and-cheese, popcorn and potato chips, soda and sugary drinks masquerading as juices. But he didn’t just complain about them, he taught his students how to grow vegetables in classrooms, then he taught others to do so. His classroom’s “edible wall” routinely generates enough produce to feed healthy meals to 450 students. and his extended student and community network have now grown more than 30,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx. The process has engaged Ritz’s students...

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