On the first Wednesday of every month, the preschool children of the Youth Education program at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS') have been participating in a Garden Day. They have had the opportunity to pick, wash and taste vegetables directly from SFBFS' onsite Demonstration Garden. Last Wednesday, the youth planted vegetables in their very own garden bed. They planted tomatoes, kale, squash and lettuce which they will be able to watch grow next to their outdoor play area until it is finally time to taste the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor.
The children were able to get hands on experience while they learned about the process of growing their own food. They dug a hole for each vegetable start and learned about separating their roots so they will grow deep into the soil and stay healthy. They will also be able to witness a seed transforming into a full grown plant with a little sunlight and moisture from the lettuce seeds they planted.
By combining the Demonstration Garden with the Youth Education play area, children are given the opportunity to interact, observe, nurture and learn. Well known child development theorists such as Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget have expressed the importance of children learning to nurture plants from beginning to end. Maria Montessori said, “When the children put a seed into the ground… the children are inspired with a feeling for nature…” This helps them to not only gain confidence in their abilities, but to witness cycle of life first hand. If that wasn’t enough, there is also evidence that when children learn to plant fruits and vegetables, they are more likely to choose to eat them when given the option.
In the future we hope to have the children tending to their garden, creating their own markers for what they have planted as well as continuing to learn from the Demonstration Garden.
Submitted by Sarah Rambo, Child Development Intern