Kids Learning Life Skills Through Container Gardening
SCRANTON, Pa., June 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Teamwork, entrepreneurial skills, science, math, nutrition: these are just a few lessons that kids of all ages are learning through container gardening (http://www.earthbox.com). "We've worked with programs for children in all 50 states," reports Molly Philbin, Education Director at EarthBox® gardening systems. "Kids learn all kinds of skills through gardening. And container gardening eliminates the hassles of digging and weeding. It works anywhere there's sun."
Fifty EarthBox gardening systems dot the YMCA grounds in Garfield, NJ – a preschooler garden at the playground, herbs at the main entrance, and a parking lot garden overflowing with produce. All are tended by children from age 2 to 16 who participate in the Y's child care and summer camp programs.
"Provide children access to a garden, and you plant a seed within the child," remarks Program Director Maris Barcia. "A garden returns a community to a more natural way of living by learning Nature's Laws."
In nearby Newark, NJ, 7th through 12th grade boys at St. Benedict's Prep tend 100 EarthBox systems. "I thought planting a garden would be a great way to introduce students to good food, and teach them where it comes from," states Garden Coordinator and Journalism Teacher Noreen Connolly. "It's worked out better than I thought."
The program is run in collaboration with Garden State Urban Farms. Ten students planted the garden in May. Three paid students staff a Farmers Market at the school in August, and donate produce to the Pierre Toussaint Food Pantry (Newark), which serves 150 individuals and families.
"The city can be a tough place to find fresh, organic food," notes Connolly. "It's imperative the kids know they can provide their families with fresh food for less money than it costs to buy it."
The Gary Comer Youth Center in Chicago uses container gardening to help teens explore green careers and learn work skills. After school, weekend and summer programs are offered at the container gardens on the campus of Gary Comer College Prep, and provide instruction in science and nutrition. The Youth Center gardens are maintained by 60 youth. The produce from the EarthBox container garden systems is distributed to the community, including food pantries and select local restaurants.
"Kids gardening programs teach so many lessons," comments Philbin. "Scientific observation and analysis are just one. Kids learn the persistence needed to care for living plants. They develop a spirit of cooperation when tending a garden together. Selling produce at farmers markets teaches entrepreneurial skills. And gardening helps them get fit and eat better."
"On top of it," she adds, "it's just plain fun!"
The patented EarthBox was introduced in 1994 after a decade of research by commercial farmers looking for a maintenance-free way to grow in ideal conditions. Since then, the EarthBox has been used in home gardens, commercial farms, schools and restaurants around the world. For more information, visit www.earthbox.com.
Frank DiPaolo, General Manager