Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Growing Food and Community at Arlington Community Garden

At Arlington Community Garden we are always excited to have visitors. When we were approached by UNF's Nutrition and Dietetics Program to have interns come out and teach nutrition education we were thrilled. We decided to set up a six week program at the garden. The interns would provide the nutrition education and we would provide the garden education; what a great combination!

Each week, Girls Inc. came out with an eager and interested group of 1st grade students. We talked about MyPlate, which are the most up to date guidelines from USDA about eating healthy. Touring the garden, the girls learned about rain barrels, the food we grow for the food pantry and got to see a lot of different fruits and vegetables growing. Seeing the strawberries and the carrots were by far the most exciting plants to check out.

The girls were happy to role up their sleeves and help us tend our 9 plots for the food pantry. Watering all those plots by hand takes time, but it went fast with the girls helping. With their help we harvested over 10 pounds of collard greens during one session. We planted potatoes, marigolds and corn together, being careful to mark each spot so we could check on their growth each week.

Perhaps the best session of all fell on Valentine's Day. We used the class as an opportunity to talk about the amount of sugar that can be found in foods, but we also celebrated chocolate! The girls learned about how the cocoa plant grows and the way chocolate is made. Of course, we had to have samples, and the girls got to try different kinds of white, milk and dark chocolate.

During our last class we painted signs to mark the plots so people would know what was growing. If you want to visit us keep an eye out for signs marking our potatoes, tomatoes, and strawberries and any corn that we have growing. It was a bit sad to watch the girls leave that last afternoon, but we know this is just the beginning of a long friendship.

Have you been lucky enough to share the magic of a garden 
with children?