STAMFORD, Conn. — About 1,800 Stamford students took the “Lettuce Challenge” with an “amazing” bumper crop this year.
Since 2011, the Stamford Garden Club has collected plants from Greenwich-based Sam Bridge Nurseries & Greenhouses and assembled kits of lettuce plants for students in Stamford public schools.
The group then hands out awards to the best grown plants in each school and the overall program.
Elaine Gubbins, a member of the club, said students look forward to growing the plants. When she dropped off the plants at the Scofield Middle School office this year, she heard the reaction of students who picked up the lettuce plants.
“I heard them go, ‘Wow, this is for us’, and they were so excited.” Gubbins said after an awards ceremony at the Government Center on Thursday. Stamford Mayor David Martin posed for photographs with each group of students, encouraging most to say “lettuce” on the count of three.
Peyton Andersen of Davenport Ridge Elementary School and Devin Brutus of Dolan Middle School took home best of show at the ceremony.
The club provides each student — or two students at the younger level — with a small lettuce plant called a “plug” along with a pot, a bag of organic soil and a stick to use as a name tag.
Schools grow the plants in different ways. Some put their plants in windows to catch some rays, while others use grow lights.
How hard is it to grow a lettuce plant? “It depends on the weather, depends on where you have them, is your classroom too hot?” Gubbins said. “Lettuce likes to be cool.”
Lettuce likes to be kept between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than 10 degrees cooler than the higher-than-seasonable temperatures outside, Gubbins said.
But inside the Government Center, the plants were in air-conditioning for all to see. They were to be returned to students on Friday, according to Gubbins.
Gubbins also couldn’t help but to grow some lettuce plants of her own. But she’s reluctant to put the leafy green vegetables she has nurtured into a salad.
“Hate to eat them — they look so beautiful,” Gubbins said.