In cities, poverty and food insecurity are rapidly increasing. In urban areas the cost of food is around 18 percent more than that of a rural setting. Cultivating produce in food desert cities helps enable the availability of fresh produce, something vital to a healthy diet, to everyone.
This summer, I worked with a local community center, Child and Family, to install a community garden with their summer preschool class. Child and Family is an organization located in Newport, RI that offers various services to families including family counseling, daycare services, addiction recovery services, and supportive housing for mothers. Child and Family has always held a special place in my heart because I myself and all of my siblings attended their childcare.
I combined my passion for environmental activism and love for children to create a community garden centered in Child and Family.When deciding on what I wanted to apply for a Haney Fellowship for I knew I wanted to do something with children and something relating to the environment. I spoke with Child and Family’s Sandpipers Early Learning Center director Missy Davis. She advised me of the already existing unkept garden beds already existing on the property. I knew exactly what I wanted to do from there. I combined my passion for environmental activism and love for children to create a community garden centered in Child and Family.
Because I attended the Salamanca, Spain program in July, I divided my Haney into two parts. The first half of the summer before I left for my trip, I built the garden bed and introduced the garden to the Pre-K class. I planted all of the seedlings before I left as well, and while I was gone the kids watered the garden with the help of their teachers.
When I returned from Spain, I worked with the students more in the classroom and garden. A normal class day included a garden themed storybook reading, an arts and crafts activity, and sensory exploration time in the garden. All of the activities targeted specific developmental learning standards, specifically the sciences, cognitive, and creative arts standards.
Not only did the children have fun inside of the classroom, but they and their parents had the opportunity to take produce home with them. This garden brought together the classroom, the kitchen, and the senses.The children loved the garden. I didn’t think that ten five-year olds would be so excited about vegetables and herbs. They enjoyed seeing the plants transform into the food they see at home. Watching tomatoes go from green to red genuinely intrigued them. Not only did the children have fun inside of the classroom, but they and their parents had the opportunity to take produce home with them. This garden brought together the classroom, the kitchen, and the senses. It was truly an honor to be apart of something so meaningful and I can’t wait to do it again next year.