Give a typical 10-year-old a zucchini and the child is likely to say, "What?"

Give a typical 10-year-old a zucchini and the child is likely to say, "What?"

Teach a child how to cook zucchini and to grow it, and perhaps that boy or girl will become someone who eats healthy for life.

That's what the administration and faculty at Northtowne Elementary School, officials with the American Heart Association and members of the Scotts Miracle-Gro volunteer team hope is the result of a "Teaching Garden" students helped plant last week at the Northland-area school.

And it's not just the young people involved, but their families as well.

Principal Nikki M. Myers said parents are expected to help tend the garden over the summer months.

The American Heart Association's Teaching Garden program is part of the "My Heart, My Life" initiative, according to an announcement from spokeswoman Brianne Harman.

"The students, spanning grades pre-kindergarten through fifth (grade), will spend a day building and filling planter boxes, provided by the American Heart Association and Teaching Garden sponsor, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.," Harman wrote in announcing the event. "The goal is to educate kids on health and wellness and get them eating healthier, and Teaching Gardens are proven to do just that."

"Over time, I hope we'll teach our children about how vegetables grow ... more about how food gets to our tables and about healthy eating," Myers said prior to a brief ceremony that was a prelude to children and adults getting their hands dirty.

The Teaching Garden is a long-term project, the principal added, one that she expects will be on the grounds and in the ground for a long time to come.

"Our gardening team is going to continue this work that we start today," she said.

Prior to the start of the academic year toward the end of the summer, Northtowne Elementary holds an ice-cream social for students and their families.

Before the 2013-14 year begins, a sort of salad day will be celebrated, using vegetables from the Teaching Garden. Salsa is also a distinct possibility, according to Myers.

"We hope that this garden is a real nice learning laboratory and that it goes on for years and years," Erin Gliatta, director of the Heart Walk, said during the opening ceremony last week.

"You guys are going to learn about teamwork," said Su Lok, director of corporate and community partnerships for Scotts Miracle-Gro.

She added that students would also get lots of fresh air, fresh produce and fresh ideas about what's good to eat as a result of being involved in the Teaching Garden.

The Northtowne Elementary Teaching Garden will feature a layout designed by a group of fifth-grade students, according to Harman's announcement.

She said excess produce will be shared with local food banks.