First Lady Teams Up with Department of Agriculture to Promote Healthy Living & Eating Local

May 22, 2012

AUGUSTA – First Lady Ann LePage will participate in a gardening event with the Department of Agriculture Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at the Blaine House. The event will begin at 10:00 am, and will feature First Lady Ann LePage and Commissioner Walt Whitcomb as they educate students on planting gardens, eating local and healthy living.

Ten 6th grade students from Augusta’s Farrington Elementary School will participate in the event. The students will have the opportunity to plant winter squash at the Blaine House, which will be donated to a local food pantry after it is harvested. Students will also have the opportunity to taste several snacks made with fresh vegetables, prepared by the Blaine House Chef, Chris Hart and Maine chef and cookbook author Cynthia Symonds.

“It is critical that we educate our youth on the great foods we have available locally, here in Maine,” said First Lady Ann LePage. “Our farmers offer a variety of products which have significant nutritional value, and it is important that our youth know what’s available, how to prepare it, and the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle,” added the First Lady.

“Dozens of schools across Maine are incorporating school garden projects as a way to help kids understand where foods come from and to encourage healthy eating,” said Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of Agriculture. “Having the hands-on opportunity to plant seeds and harvest vegetables teaches our children science, biology, good nutrition and generates a lifelong appreciation for eating local foods. The planting of this Blaine House garden offers some Augusta students a unique chance to grow and taste healthy food,” continued Whitcomb.

This initiative is part of an ongoing effort from the Department of Agriculture to promote school gardens, agriculture in the classroom, the importance of growing and consuming local, healthy foods, and the benefits to the local economy.