Our state's tomatoes are nationally recognized as being among the best in the world. To pay homage to the great work being done in our state and to promote local agriculture, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture honors those who have excelled in providing Jersey Fresh produce to school children in our state. They are the Top Tomatoes in the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Program!
Sonya Harris is a Teacher of Special Education at the Dorothy L. Bullock Elementary School in Glassboro, NJ. She is currently a co-teacher in a 1st Grade Inclusion Classroom setting. She has been teaching at Bullock School for more than 10 years. The students call her the “Garden Teacher” for her role in partnering with Elite Landscaping of Berlin, NJ and Celebrity Landscaper Ahmed Hassan to build an Edible Garden/Outdoor Classroom for the children of Bullock Elementary School.
Sonya is passionate about the Bullock Children’s Garden becoming a hub for the community and local neighbors to harvest organic produce for their families, in an effort to reduce the effects of the surrounding food desert many of her students live within. Using this passion, she has been able to forge successful partnerships with the NJ Department of Agriculture Division of Food & Nutrition, Rutgers University Family & Community Health Services Grow Healthy Program, NJ Agricultural Society’s Learning Through Gardening Program, the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Program and the State’s FoodCorps Program through Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Gloucester County.
She is proud of the cafeteria’s use of the Bullock Children’s Garden to provide healthy and fresh produce to students by incorporating Bullock Garden ingredients in school lunches. She also participates in an afterschool garden club, incorporating gardening outdoors and indoors, teaching children the joys and benefits of eating fresh foods, and how to grow them in their own homes. She strongly believes that every school -- especially in her home state of New Jersey – The Garden State -- regardless of socioeconomic demographics, should utilize garden education into the curriculum to inspire future farmers, landscapers, engineers, biologists and teachers…the list is infinite.
As Sonya says, “When we plant these seeds in the lives of our children, the harvest society will reap is filled with endless possibilities!”