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Earth Day Celebration at Farmers' Market Honors Growing Great

Apr 20, 2016 09:22AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Leaders from the City of Manhattan Beach and Growing Great honor local Growing Great docents at the Manhattan Beach Farmers' Market on Tuesday.

On a brilliantly sunny day, surrounded by locally grown fruits and vegetables, leaders from the City of Manhattan Beach and the Growing Great organization celebrated Earth Day by honoring local Growing Great docents.

The docents are the parent volunteers who lead Growing Great nutrition and environmental lessons in the Manhattan Beach schools and throughout the greater L.A. area.

"Without you, some of our kids would have never tried vegetables like jicama or radishes," Kelly Stroman, executive director of the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professionals Association, told the docents. "You make a huge difference in our kids' lives."

The reception was fittingly held at the Manhattan Beach Farmers' Market, which gives ongoing support to Growing Great. According to Stroman, the Farmers' Market has given $40,000 to Growing Great since the market's inception ten years ago.

Manhattan Beach Mayor Mark Burton, in his last official duty as mayor before his term ended on Tuesday night, said that he frequently tells people that Manhattan Beach is one of the best cities to raise a family "in part because of our respect for the environment and our respect for healthy foods."

He added that the Manhattan Beach Farmers' Market is a significant factor in creating that healthy environment. "I think of it as a magical place," he said. "When you come here, you see kids from age 1 to 92."

MBUSD School Board President Ellen Rosenberg noted that her oldest son started in the Manhattan Beach schools in 1999, the same year that Growing Great began, and that all three of her children had "grown up" with the program. "It really is a life-changer," she said.

Jill Coons, director of education of Growing Great, thanked the docents for keeping the Growing Great program alive in the schools. "Growing Great would not be where it is today without you," she said.

Coons noted that the program had recently expanded beyond elementary schools to include older students. On hand were students from a chef-in-training pilot program run by Growing Great at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, serving fresh salad with the famous Growing Great salad dressing.

Growing Great Executive Director Jennifer Jovanovic then unveiled a special song that a Mar Vista Growing Great family had written about the organization. She led the crowd in a hearty rendition of the song, after which the farmers' market guitar soloist picked up the tune.

GrowingGreat is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to empower every child to grow up healthy through science-based garden and nutrition education. It was started in 1999 in Manhattan Beach and has since expanded to serve more than 250,000 children, teens and families across the country.

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