Last Friday, July 24, a group of campers from the Wilmington YMCA day camp visited the Demonstration Garden at Denver park for a gardening and local-food demonstration. Eric and Mariah, our Community and Youth Outreach Coordinators, respectively, organized the demonstration along with Maggie Ashmore, an intern at ECC who grew up on the only certified organic farm in Clinton County, and Phil Swindler from Swindler & Sons Florists.
The morning was perfect for a day in the garden, and the kids arrived ready to get their hands dirty and their thumbs green. They paired up in groups of two and were given a vegetable from Maggie, who told them to locate the plant in the demonstration garden where the vegetable came from. They learned the basics of composting and crop rotation, and munched on green beans, cucumbers and vine-ripened tomatoes. Phil donated soil, seeds and personal pots for all the kids to plant their own cucumber, which they could take home and watch grow.
While one group of kids spent the first part of the morning in the demo garden, another was learning the life-cycle of a plant, from seed to fruit. Eric and Mariah organized a game of rock-paper-scissors, and the kids progressed from seed to seedlings, from seedling to flower, and from flower to fruit. After the game, they put on a skit about food production and learned the benefits of buying food straight from the farmer.
It was refreshing to see kids so eager to learn about where their food comes from, and to be able to take home their own cucumber plant which will bear fruit in just a month or so is no doubt going to have a lasting impression on them. If we can teach kids early-on about the importance of nutritious foods and gardening in general, hopefully that will stick with them as they grow up and pass it on to their own children. That's sustainability at its best.
Below is a photo slideshow of the day, and here is the direct link should your Flash player not support the file.
Hopefully in the coming days this story will be in some local media outlets. Keep an eye out!