Peppers for Pupils, a Garden for Education


At the Summit School in Nyack, students have a variety of opportunities to explore healthy living and eating habits that will prepare them for success into adulthood. Some students even spend their free time cultivating plants, eating them, and feeding them to the farm animals.

Staff at the Summit School are serious about diet, nutrition, and therapy – so serious that they even have a registered dietitian that works full-time at the school. The school dietitian helps students overcome disordered eating behavior and body image issues, provides insights to help them manage health conditions such as diabetes, and even works in areas as simple as picky eating. Sometimes students request to speak with someone about improving their eating habits, other times social workers at the school refer students in need of nutritional counseling. Either way, every student has the choice to meet with the dietitian for just a 30 minute one-off session or on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.

The options for any student interested in managing their diet and receiving nutritional therapy do not end there. The Summit School has created a community garden for students to learn how to grow various fruits and vegetables for themselves. Rob Kahl, a Physical Education & Health Teacher at Summit, gathered students to help him build the garden with the intention of using it as a therapy tool, a means of teaching personal responsibility, and a place to make fresh food. This school year he met a student who grew up on a farm and was eager to help design the garden by selecting the right soils and other materials necessary to make it into a functional ecosystem of fruits and vegetables. The garden has been a hit ever since.