Summer in the Garden
The Westside Orchard Garden (WOG) is in full celebration when school is out and the kids are back in the Garden. 2017 will be the 5th year of our Summer in the Garden Program and we're expanding to include youth from the Cameron Family Center (Rescue Mission), Head Start, the Community Mental health Summer Kids program and the Salvation Army Program. Boys & Girls Club youth and homeschool youth all had gardens in the WOG in 2016 - about 30-40 gardeners every day learning about fresh food and healthy eating! This year we will have 50-65 youth in the Garden Monday through Thursday, with a combined total of 250 every week!
As one of our 3rd graders said, as she walked beside the gardener to harvest veggies, "You know, the garden is my happy place!" It's our happy place, too, when the kids are all there.
There was lunch in the Garden on a weekly basis - usually Wednesday. Kids picked what was ripe, made salads, had honey "sandwiches" with honey from the beehives, and learned to love eating what they grew. This picture is zucchini bread that they made - and they are all getting a sample with lunch. Picking and eating carrots was a favorite activity! Beet greens? Why not? If they grew it, they all wanted to try a taste, and loved most of what they tasted. Truly a new experience for most of them...
Learning about mulching - why mulch, how to mulch - saving water, helping the plants through the hot summer weather. Learning all the time about how to grow successfully. Kids love playing in the dirt, and research shows that the benefits to kids from doing just that have been measured to show that they are better communicators, better at relationships, better in school, better with their families. All from "playing in the dirt'!