Ariana Docanto (left) from Somerville's Healey School planted wheat seats with First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House kitchen garden.

Ariana Docanto (left) from Somerville’s Healey School planted wheat seats with First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House kitchen garden in April.

Healey School fifth-grade students Ariana Docanto, Gabriela Lopez, Sarah Sweeting, Brian Chan, and Lana Popovic are heading back to the White House Garden next week for a Harvest Garden event with First Lady Michelle Obama.  The students were invited back to the White House after joining 25 other students from around the country in helping the First Lady plant the White House Kitchen Garden on April 4, 2013.

During that first visit to our nation’s capital for the fifth annual White House Kitchen Garden planting event, students worked alongside the First Lady, members of her Let’s Move staff, and military veterans from the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) and Archi’s Acres, to plant a variety of fruits and vegetables used in preparation of White House meals. Somerville’s Healey School was one of five other schools across the country to participate in that event on April 4.  Children from “…schools that have made exceptional improvements to school lunches through implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act…” were selected to participate.

The week’s event begins at 1:30 at the White House Garden on the South Lawn.  Students will work alongside the First Lady and her staff on Tuesday, May 28, to harvest some of the vegetables that have been growing since the April 4 planting event.

Chris Mancini, Executive Director of Groundwork Somerville (GWS), will join the Healey School contingent at the White House.  Groundwork Somerville is a critical partner in School Garden efforts throughout the District, managing School Gardens including coordinating volunteers to plant and maintain the Gardens and providing staff to teach a 10-week curriculum each season. Other educational programs offered by GWS include the popular Maple Syrup Project, Garden Youth Crew, and the “Spring into Action” April Vacation Week program.  GWS works with community members and partners to promote “…environmental, economic and social well-being…” through sustainable improvements and management of the environment.  For more information about GWS, visit

Under Mayor Curtatone’s and Superintendent Pierantozzi’s leadership, the City of Somerville and the Somerville Public Schools have become national models for health and wellness in our communities.  Shape Up Somerville, the Mayor’s city-wide campaign to promote healthy eating and physical fitness through programming, infrastructure improvements and policy work, has received national recognition from the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative.  Shape Up Somerville began as a research study in partnership with Tufts University in 2002, targeting 1st through 3rd grade SPS students.  A nationally-recognized initiative, Shape Up Somerville now includes efforts throughout the City that promote healthy eating such as Shape Up Approved restaurants, Urban Agriculture connections, and Farmers Mobile Markets; infrastructure improvements such as Community Path Extensions, and Walkable/Bikeable Paths; Healthcare Partnerships; and Policy improvements.  For more information about Shape Up Somerville, visit


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