STAMFORD, Conn. – We may take it for granted as we walk through the produce isle, but growing a head of lettuce is apparently quite a challenge, according to the Stamford Garden Club.
The organization is wrapping up a six-week contest encouraging Stamford students to grow the crop from “a tiny, inch-high plant.”
More than 1,800 students from kindergarten through high school participated in the sixth annual Lettuce Challenge. Each class is to submit their best plants to be judged by local expert gardeners.
Mayor David Martin will present ribbons for the Best in Show and first- and second-place finishers at the Stamford Government Center at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 26.
While the contest is a competition, the true aim of the event is to encourage students to learn about plants and healthy eating habits, according to the Garden Club.
“The kids have been so excited to look after their plants and count and measure their leaves,” one involve teacher said. “For many students, this is the first plant they've ever had to care for. It's been an awesome experience.”
Garden club member Elaine Gubbins, who took over managing the Challenge last year, said her most rewarding moment came when she was dropping off kits to Scofield Middle School and overheard one of the students exclaim, “Wow, all this is for us?”
“While it is exciting that participation grows each year, the Challenge is becoming more demanding to fund,” she said. “The cost is approximately $0.75 per student. We will be looking for ways to raise money for next year.”
The Lettuce Challenge began in 2011 as a way for the Stamford Garden Club to support efforts to establish school gardens.
The contest is run each year by Stamford Garden Club volunteers who provide kits with soil, pots and instructions and work with organizations like the Sam Bridge Nursery in Greenwich, which provides the starting plants, or “plugs.”
The Stamford Government Center is located at 888 Washington St. at the corner of Tresser Boulevard. Parking adjacent to the building is free. For more information about the Lettuce Challenge or to make a donation, email SGCLettuce@gmail.com.