Teaching children to garden is fun, vital

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 30, 2017

Growing up, some of my favorite memories were working with my grandparents and mother in their vegetable and flower gardens.

Working in this job, I am able to continue that passion with many of the schools in the county.

One of my current treasured memories is children working in the soil. When I visit many of the schools, the kids light up when they find out that they are going outside to work in the garden. Many of them “fight” to get to pull the weeds, dig holes and some even want to be the first to find the bad bugs. These children do not see these as mundane tasks — they love doing it.

Starting children young planting and growing their own fruits, vegetables and flowers can be a life lesson that helps them through adulthood.

With recent statistics saying that we will have 9 billion people by 2050 and are currently not producing enough to sustain that many people, children need to be educated on how to get good quality nutritious food, whether it is supporting those that provide it or growing it themselves.

With local schools providing school gardens, this can help teach the youth valuable tools such as math (measuring plant growth and determining how much soil raised beds need), science (weather, soil chemistry, fertilization, etc.), entomology (determining which insects are good and bad), history (how agriculture has changed over time), literature (creating gardening journals), and even engineering (how to build low tunnels), and those are just a few examples of what gardening can do to help children grow in their education.

Most of the time, the children do not even realize that they are learning these basic skills because it is something fun to do.

If you would like to see some sites where this magic happens, there are a few schools in the county that are already creating school gardens.

The ones that are working with the Cooperative Extension office currently are Morgan Elementary (pre-K program), Millbridge Elementary and Sacred Heart Catholic schools. School gardens are starting all over the county, but they need dedicated teachers, parents, students and administrative staff involved to make sure that the program continues in the years to come.

If your child participates in one of these schools but has not been involved in the program, contact Kerry Gardner at Morgan Elementary at 704-636-0169, Hillary Shores at Sacred Heart at 704-633-0591, or Dr. Angela Lingle-Linder at Millbridge at 704-855-5591 to see how you can get your child involved.

Many children do not get to share in these programs but that doesn’t mean that a grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend cannot start teaching them at a young age.

Part of my job is to help educate those interested in gardening. I have access to numerous publications on raised beds and gardening in North Carolina. We have the tools to help you get started gardening with youth.

If you would like more information on gardening with children, please contact your local Cooperative Extension agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970 or email her at danelle_cutting@ncsu.edu