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The Impact of a Garden

Jun 23, 2014
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We have been developing a strong garden-to-table program here at the Children’s Center for several years, now. Each year, we’ve been able to get more of the children we serve more and more involved with various aspects of the program.  All of the children start seeds early in the spring, and some of the older children (ages 3-5) help plant the seedlings and direct-sow seeds when the weather warms up enough.  (One of the largest uncertainties, here in Maine!)

Classrooms take turns caring for the raised bed gardens (built at a level that make them accessible to children in wheelchairs and walkers).   When it comes time to harvest the children’s bounty, the kitchen manager works with the children, making sure the right things get harvested at the right time. And then each classroom will get an age-appropriate cooking or food preparation demonstration/activity presented by the kitchen manager.

It has been a very successful program, and the funding from Sow It Forward has enriched the program a great deal, helping us get equipment for the children and more seeds and seedlings to expand the diversity of our harvest.

There has been one child who has been impacted in a very big way with our garden program. More and more at the Center, we have been observing that many children and families lack the healthy foods that their diet requires because the cost is too high for their limited budgets. While we have started up a food pantry program to help address the food insecurity affecting the children we serve, one boy is benefitting from the gardens, directly, daily. His teachers had noticed that this boy would come to school clearly hungry.  With hunger as the basis of his experience, his ability to focus and his overall behavior suffered quite dramatically.

As the garden grows, though, it is helping this child. Upon arrival and throughout the day he is able to go out to the garden and grab some lettuce or an early tomato to curb his hunger until it is time for his next meal. When he goes to the kitchen and sees the ripe, red, tomatoes in the fridge, he literally licks his lips and smiles. He will politely ask the chef if he could have one. He is now able to be more alert so that he can better learn new skills every day.

This is just one small but huge example of how the Sow It Forward program has helped our children here at the Children’s Center!

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