Tag Archives: American Heart

How to Grow Upside Down Tomatoes

8 Jul

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This could be the coolest and easiest garden project we’ve seen all summer. Students at Peters Elementary in Garden Grove, California made their own inverse tomato hangers out of recycled  plastic bottles. That’s right, Inverse hangers. As in tomatoes that grow upside down! Pretty cool, huh?

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You might be thinking “How does that even work?” It’s pretty simple. Plants naturally grow towards sunlight, so even when they’re upside down they’ll still grow up. Water goes into the top of the plastic bottle, directly onto the roots. When extra water flows down onto the plant it also gets moisture and nutrients onto its leaves, thus producing a hardier fruit.

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The kids had a blast with this project. Just look at those excited faces! DSCF1890 (480x640)


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And there you have it, tomatoes that defy gravity. Here’s how you can grow your own inverse tomatoes.

You will need:

  • tomato seedling
  • Empty two liter soda bottle or milk jug
  • hole punch
  • duct tape
  • scissors
  • garden soil
  • Sturdy line to hang your planter with, such as twine, leather string, a cut coat hanger, etc.
  • A weather resistant hook

Then use these simple instructions from Instructionables.com to build your hangers.

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Have your kids done any cool garden projects this summer? Tell us about them in the comments.

Happy growing!


Spring into Action: Western States Edition

18 Mar

Our Western States affiliate is wasting no time getting back into the garden. Kathy Rogers, American Heart Association Western States Affiliate Executive Vice President shared this story on her blog The WSA Exchange.

Though you might not know it from some of the crazy weather going on around the country – spring has definitely sprung in the Western States in the form of Teaching Gardens. Santiago Elementary School became home to one of 12 Teaching Gardens in Orange County, CA, provided with funding support from The California Endowment. Students, parents and teachers worked hand-in-hand to build planter boxes, fill them up with soil and plant vegetable and fruit seedlings — including strawberries, zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce and a variety of herbs. Each school is funded for three years during which they are preparing to be self-sufficient to maintain a sustainable garden.

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Kids at Crestwood Elementary in Las Vegas, NV, also got their hands dirty while planting and learning about health. On hand to help were School Principal Jackie Richardson, Chair of the Teaching Gardens Executive Leadership Committee; Aurora Buffington of the Southern Nevada Health District; Las Vegas division Board of Directors member Judah Zakalik, along with faculty and community members. It looks like a good time was had by all!

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Click here to continue reading about the great heart healthy happenings in the Western States!

Kelly Meyer Nominated for Real Food Innovator Award

12 Mar

Special congrats to our fearless leader and co-founder, Kelly Meyer on her nomination for the United States Healthful Food Council’s Childhood Nutrition Food Innovator award. REAL Food innovator awards celebrate leaders in the promotion of healthful and sustainable foods.  Join us in wishing Kelly good luck in the comments! Go Kelly Go!



Other nominees include:

  • Diane Schmidt, Founder, Healthy Fare for Kids
  • Shazi Visram, Founder and CEO, Happy Family
  • Chef Tyler Florence, Co-founder, Sprout Foods
  • Catherine McCord, Author
  • Dr. Alan Greene
  • Chef Jamie Oliver
  • Kirsten Tobey and Kristin Richmond, Founders, Revolution Foods

Congrats to all these nutrition warriors! Thank you for fighting to make our world happier and healthier.

Kale Yeah!

7 Mar

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Have you ever tried Kale chips? Third graders at Garfield Elementary in Long Beach, CA used produce from their teaching garden to make this crunchy healthy snack.  Classes harvested the kale, washed leaves, shredded , mixed in seasoning, and prepared them for the cafeteria oven.  120 students participated and enjoyed tasting kale!

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How to Make Kale Chips:

  • Wash and dry leaves with a towel
  • Tear into bite-sized pieces
  • Drizzle with a little oil and black pepper.
  • Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes until crispy.

Read more about the health benefits of kale. 

Winter To-Do List

28 Jan

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We know you’re already working on all these, right? But just in case Mother Nature doesn’t feel like warming up anytime soon, you better  add these garden tasks to your to- do list.

Plan ahead

Cold, dark winter days are the ideal time to start planning your spring garden.  Choose the plants you would like to grown with your students and create a planting calendar to guide you through spring.

If You Build it…

Get the garden ready for spring. When the weather permits, winter is a great time to dive in to infrastructure projects for your Teaching Garden. Building or repairing planter boxes now leaves more time for growing later! So roll up your sleeves and tackle that bird bath or tool shed that you’ve been hoping to add.


A compost pile allows you to recycle food scraps and create fertile soil for the garden. Get started over the cool months to make sure you have plenty of healthy soil for your new seedlings.

Photos & Video

Be sure to use the flip camera provided with your Teaching Garden to take pictures and video of your students in action and submit them to teachinggardens@heart.org

Jot it down

Keep the garden going during winter with the Teaching Garden Journal. Have students track the weather, make plans for spring or share a favorite recipe.

Survey Time!

We want to see your growth, but we need data measure it.

For schools new to the Teaching Gardens program, make sure that you have filled out and submitted your Pre-Survey. Gardens in their second cycle after completing a harvest should have completed the Post Survey.


Unlocking school playgrounds and gyms encourages physical activity

18 Oct


The United States is facing an obesity epidemic. Nearly one in three children and teens are overweight or obese and many are inactive, according to the American Heart Association. About 50 percent of U.S. adults and 65 percent of adolescents do not currently get the recommended amount of daily physical activity.

School districts can increase physical activity in children and young adults by opening playgrounds, gyms and fields to the community when school’s out, especially in lower-income areas, according to an American Heart Association policy statement published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The statement recommends that school districts and community organizations create shared use agreements to allow supervised activities like sports leagues and unsupervised playing. It reported that low-income communities have less access to recreational spaces and community recreation centers.

“If you want to get active, you need a place to be active,” said Deborah Rohm Young, primary author of the statement. Dr. Young is with the Department of Research and Evaluation at Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena. “We need more voices to help local schools share their playgrounds and gyms with the community.”

Recognizing that schools have legitimate concerns with simply unlocking their gates and doors, the statement identifies five key issues to address with community organizations:

  • Who pays to keep facilities open and maintained;
  • How schools and community groups can best communicate;
  • Whether schools have appropriate spaces for physical activity;
  •  Who takes on liability for injuries or damage to school property;
  •  How schools can select the best groups to work with.

A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 61.6 percent of the 800 districts surveyed currently have a formal agreement for use of their facilities. However, many of the districts are in more affluent areas that already have more opportunities for physical activity.

“The bottom line is sharing spaces can bring communities together and improve the health of all residents,” said Young. “Many schools have found ways to make it work and with the low rates of physical activity among kids and families, every green space and playground that is available means more kids that are active, more kids that are healthy and more families having fun.”

For more information:


reblogged from  National American Heart Association blog 

Meatless dishes for National Hispanic Heritage Month

23 Sep

Happy Meatless Monday! In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, this week’s meatless recipe comes with a special Mexican flair! Chef LaLa has teamed up with the American Heart Association to show us how to make some of Latin America’s favorite dishes even healthier. Today she’s showing us how to make Jicama Salad. Its low in calories, packed nutrients and flavor, and a delicious meatless dish.

Vamos! Watch the video below and lets get cooking.




Are you celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month in the garden? Tell us how!