Lindsey Whited is the Garden Educator who works with the children at St. Joseph’s Family Center as part of the Garden to Table program launched at the shelter in 2010. This COS program is a holistic approach to teach children the value of fresh food and nutrition, provide an enrichment activity and ultimately produce food to utilize in the cooking classes being offered at the shelter as part of our support programming. Lindsey comments that the most exciting and fulfilling part of the garden project at St. Joseph’s has been “having the children help to build and design the garden from the ground up. From bringing in soil to building beds to planting to harvesting, the children have been able to steward their project from start to finish.”
Clint Womack, Children’s Program Director for St. Joseph’s Family Center reminds us that beyond raising the children’s awareness that the food we eat actually grows from dirt, the Garden to Table program also provides essential outdoor time for our kids who rarely get the opportunity to interact with nature. In addition, the children are enriched by the scientific learning of gardening and the commensurate mathematics of following a recipe – all while enjoying time outside, working with their hands, getting a little messy, and having fun. Healthy, active, and well-nourished children are more likely to attend school and are more prepared and motivated to learn. The Garden to Table program supports our overarching goal of academic achievement mixed with quality enrichment opportunities. We are excited to leverage our learning from our initial program and expand this offering across multiple shelters in 2012.
Below are some of our favorite answers to questions we asked of some of our young gardeners at St. Joseph’s:
- What do you like best about working in the garden?
- “Watering plants or putting seeds in the ground.”
- “Look for bugs”
- What is something new you have learned from working in the garden?
- “That worms live in drit” (dirt)
- When you grow up and have your very own garden, what will you grow?
- “Roses and other flowers. Some vegetables like carrots and tomatoes.”
- “Flowers and apples”
- Why is it important to grow vegetables and fruits?
- “It saves money if you grow from your own seeds.”
- “So you can grow”
- Why is it important to eat healthy foods that come from nature?
- “Veggies help you grow and don’t have lots of sugar. Fruits because they are good and healthy for kids.”
- “Because you can live longer”