Countless research has shown that gardening with children have numerous benefits, including social, emotional, physical, and mental. Gardening has shown to improve nutrition, reduce obesity rates, increase physical activity, impact mental health, and even improve academic scores.
The Junior Master Gardener (JMG) Program had another successful season. A total of 21 children from 14 families participated in the weekly classes from mid-April to mid-August. JMG is a youth gardening and nutrition program designed for kids aged 8-12 years old. FoodWIse partnered with the Fond du Lac County Master Gardener Association volunteers to offer the program. From “seed to plate”, the youth were directly involved in the entire process, including planting the seeds in the greenhouse, planning out the garden plots, pulling weeds, composting, and harvesting. Following harvest, the youth either prepared the produce in the kitchen in healthy recipes or donated to a local food pantry. The “Eating from the Garden” curriculum was used to provide education on MyPlate, the 5 food groups, label reading, food safety. Master Gardeners highlighted topics on composting, bees and pollinators, and lasagna and raised bed gardening.
Other highlights included: guest speakers from Haentze Floral to teach about succulents and herbs, a field trip to Ledgeview Farms (hydroponics) and Ledgeview Nature Center, a new hydroponics station, and a season-end parent party celebration. By participating, each child received a comic book themed apron, a cookbook of the recipes made this summer, and a certificate of completion. Year-end parent evaluations showed very positive feedback, including “my child is incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their diet.”