New Jersey is called the “Garden State” out of pride in an agricultural heritage that dates back hundreds of years. But in West New York, NJ, in the heart of the most densely populated area in the nation, the farms to the south were long unknown to low-income children growing up across the river from Manhattan. Today, that’s changed. The school menus and classroom curricula follow a locavore, culture-changing agenda that connects urban students to the land and the enjoyment of a wide variety of fresh-picked produce. In the middle school, students who began eating this way in kindergarten relish even the turnips and beets. “They trust us,” says Food Service Director Sal Valenza. “They’re not scared—they like to try new things.”

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