What's not to love about kids and gardening? There's the fun of messing around in the dirt, the sense of accomplishment when eating a salad made of things we grew, and the basic concept of understanding how we are connected to the ground we are standing on.
Youth gardening programs offer a tremendous opportunity for children to understand and explore the natural world, as well as learn first-hand the benefits of growing, harvesting, and eating healthy foods. First Lady Michelle Obama has made it a national focus with the White House Kitchen Garden.
It's called the "people-plant connection," and every child deserves to have access to this relationship. The hands-on approach to learning about wholesome foods helps engage children with a healthier lifestyle. Many kids in Madison have been exceptionally lucky this summer to participate in gardening projects, and this fall will harvest the rewards of that hard work.
Students at the MSCR Community Learning Center at Glendale Elementary created a new garden with the assistance of some interested adults from MSCR, AmeriCorps and the UW Extension. Their young plot includes a pizza garden, salsa garden, butterfly garden, and garden sculptures.
As Mrs. Obama mentioned, gardening helps kids learn about other aspects of our food culture. Fourth and fifth graders at the MSCR/Glendale site made a visit to Second Harvest Foodbank in Madison to donate yellow and red potatoes and some juicy tomatoes from their garden. Seeing others benefit from the fruits of their labor was especially rewarding for these young gardeners.
The enthusiasm for gardening is contagious! Max Lubarsky, part of AmeriCorps staff at the MSCR/Glendale Community Learning Center, explained how he and his friend, Joe Mullenberg volunteered to build a sturdy wooden shed to house gardening tools. Then Joe's dad got involved. Next, the kids decorated it with murals and a rooftop of grass. With gardening, it is hard not to get excited as you see the pieces and people come together.
"It's amazing to watch these kids benefit from something they might not have otherwise been able to do," Max said. "Their enthusiasm and care for the garden has been unbelievable."
This fall these students will continue to see how their harvest is especially sweet, knowing it is their hard work that helped the garden grow.
All in all, there are 53 community and school gardens in Dane County, double the number there were just eight years ago.
To learn more about the benefits of kids and gardening here are a few helpful sites to visit.
Gardening in Madison
Gardening with children, in general
This story is written and presented by Madison School & Community Recreation, a department of the Madison Metropolitan School District. MSCR has been providing residents of Madison with recreation options for more than 80 years.comments powered by Disqus
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
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I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
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This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
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"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
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All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
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The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
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As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
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