Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 24
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
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Vegetables Anyone Could Love: PHS Troupe Highlights Opening of Green Tiger Gardens

Ellen Gilbert

Messrs. Broccoli and Cauliflower sang rap songs, Three Peas in a Pod danced in unison, and Miss Zucchini gave her all in a fine imitation of an opera diva. Forget the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis: this was the Vegetable Musical, a highlight of last week’s opening celebration for the Green Tiger Gardens at Princeton High School.

Although he could easily have passed as “the man of the hour,” Green Tiger Gardens director Matt Wilkinson insisted that credit was due to the many “people who wanted to come in and put their own stamp on it. We had this vision, but it’s evolved,” he observed. “The students took their own approach and today we’re celebrating their talents.” He also noted the contributions of Pam Flory and Karla Kook, and thanked the Princeton Regional School District for its support.

Mr. Wilkinson, a physical education teacher and former wrestling coach, did however, put his own unique stamp on the gardens by conceiving of it as an opportunity for students to do some rather non-traditional kinds of exercise. In March, a New York Times blog (“About Energy and the Environment”) identified the uniqueness of the gardens, noting that “advocates for greener schools believe this is the first time public school students will receive physical education credit for garden work.”

At last week’s celebration, a student jazz group played “As Time Goes By” and other favorites as guests dined on a “garden tasting menu” that included a garden salad, garden mint seltzer, and garden mint-lemon sorbet. Lucy’s Ravioli Kitchen transformed garden spinach into linguine, so “garden spinach pasta” was also available for everyone’s dining pleasure.

The garden effort began last fall with a community fund raiser and the participation of some 60 volunteers in the building of 16 raised beds on a field to the left of the school’s front entrance. Sophomore Lucy Fleming created a blog, and drama teacher Pat Wray and her students were charged — just six weeks ago — with writing an original musical show about healthy eating. Their response, according to Mr. Wilkinson, was “spectacular.”

An audience of Community Park kindergarteners who saw the musical earlier that day were reported to have loved it, and so, apparently did the audience on Thursday afternoon.

The show’s premise was the education of two vegetably-challenged youngsters. Miss Eggplant sang to them about being “rich in folic acid,” and a Brussel Sprout lamented that she was “lonely and wilting in the produce aisle.” The Corn on the Cobbers twanged in slow, southern accents and some French Legumes did the Can-Can. Miss Tomato’s panache rendered the question of whether she was a fruit or a vegetable moot, and the Strawberry Girls were wonderfully sweet.

The end of the show found the enlightened protagonists skipping down the produce aisle, asking their moms to buy vegetables.

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