Once a week, 5th-grade students at Swansea Elementary in Denver, Colorado get a hands-on educational experience while working in the school’s community garden.
“This is so important. because it's helping kids understand that they have the power to grow their own fruits and vegetables,” said Mikhaela Mullins, of Denver Urban Gardens, who helps lead this program.
Mullins says there’s now a growing number of non-profits across the country helping students build community gardens, which ultimately increases their access to fresh food.
Students like Dana Gonzalez might now have a future farming her own food because of the program.
“I maybe want to do this when I grow up,” Gonzalez said. “I like planting with my mom.”
Quality time with mom while working out in Mother Nature. It’s these experiences that help these programs harvest great results.
“We’ve seen that over the last five years; our evaluations results always show that the parents are always growing more food at home at their home garden and a community garden,” Mullins said. “They’re eating more fruits and vegetables and that they’re eating healthier in general.”
Many of these non-profits are targeting schools whose students live in areas deemed “food deserts”. The United States Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as an area where a third of the population lives more than one mile from a large grocery store.
While these programs help feed those in need, they’re also teaching students about portion control and nutrition facts.
“I think it’s important to us to help us stay healthy,” said student Sarah Gonzalez, who has been actively participating in this program. “I was eating a lot of junk food like chips and now I’m eating healthier things like salads. It makes me feel like I have a lot more energy.”