Community gardens are gaining attention nation wide. As highlighted in a blog posting on the new garden at the white house, gardening plays a unique role in building community. While many community gardens draw interest from adult enthusiasts, attention to the youth is sometimes lacking. Schools and programs are springing up around the country incorporating youth into the process (and thus the community!). Connecting the youth in the garden bodes well for community development and personal development, providing youth a sense of belonging.
The P-Patch YOUTH Gardening Program in Seattle is one example. They are “seeding the next generation of organic gardeners!” to quote their website (Good pun). The program identifies social and environmental aspects of their objective, noting gardening as a way of weaving youth into the fabric of the community. The program targets youth of diverse economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds, in its drive to keep the youth active in choosing healthy lifestyles for themselves and the environment.
Youth are faced with many choices when the bell rings at the end of a school day. While some are pulled toward healthy after school activities, others are seduced by a multitude of unhealthy choices. This is where ENGAGING the youth is important. Whether it be after school sports, interesting clubs, or ORGANIC GARDENING, engaging their curious minds is crucial.
Programs such as these inspire me to dream of the possibilities that could arise from motivated PQ alumni. Student’s at PQ hone gardening skills and education around planting and harvesting veggies. Further, PQ students also gain a sense of belonging through their connection with the land and their peers. These students could go on to be stewards of community gardening programs, helping to seed their own generation of organic farmers. Perhaps they already are and I am unaware of it.
Check out other YOUTH community garden projects that I found interesting:
Gardening the Community, Springfield MA
Youth Changing the World, Houston TX
CSC, Corvallis OR
Great to hear what is happening in Seattle. Here in Corvallis, OR the garden site across from the CSC building on 2nd St was quite an adventure to watch. The raised boxes arrived one week then over the next few weeks soil, signs, etc were added and voila! there were soon plants! Now they have covers on them and plants are still growing!
My other favorite project is one closer to my heart and that is the Garden at Lincoln Elementary School. Its been around for ages but as this is the lowest funded and scoring school (funny how that works!), the teacher turner over is high and the garden struggles after 15+ years. I’m the first stipended coordinator and I’m working at getting enough community, parent and teacher support to make it sustainable.
Last summer it was so satisfying to see the summer school kids smiles when we told them they could take a vegetable home with them. Several walked out with a big onion and another with a big beet AND they thought it was cool!
Check out our very new blog page! I have some other kids and gardening links there…(lincolngarden.wordpress.com)