By Staff Writer, Laura e. Crook
Where do your fruits and vegetables come from? Your garden? A farm? Where is that farm? Two towns over? Sunny California? Well-traveled people are great, but well-traveled food isn’t quite as desirable. The nutrients in produce diminish after its picked off the source plant. Spinach, for example, loses 50% of its vitamin C 24 hours after it was picked (Source). Locally grown produce is higher in nutrients, which makes it a better choice for you and your students.
So how do you know if your veggies are homebodies grown upstate or travelers from across the country? One way is to create or support a community garden in your school or neighborhood.
Community gardens have a bounty of wonderful benefits that go above and beyond educating children about healthy nutrition. The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) points out that a community garden:
- Produces nutritious food
- Reduces family food budgets
- Conserves resources
- Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, and education (Source)
Community gardens exploded in popularity after First Lady Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House grounds. Through her national health initiative, Let’s Move, Mrs. Obama is committed to the prevention of childhood obesity. “This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition.” (Source)
You don’t need a White House to change your community! You can search for a community garden in your neighborhood on the ACGA website. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a garden yet, start one! Community gardens are, very simply, a piece of land gardened by a group of people.
Is there an empty patch of land on your school grounds? Talk to the administration about planting a garden. Tired of looking at a bare spot on your lawn? Plant some seeds with your kids and watch them grow!
If you’re looking for inspiration check out Rebel Tomato on the ACGA website for advice on what seeds to plant and how to budget your garden.
Turn the garden into an opportunity for education! Take a Let’s Go Green field trip with Field Trip Factory—this classroom curriculum is adjustable for length and age group, and it’s completely free! Teach your students about water conservation, recycling and other green initiatives alongside your community garden.
Don’t have the time to commit to a community garden? Take your students to visit a local farmers market. Local Harvest is a great resource to find farmers markets in your community, support local farmers, and learn about fresh produce!