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Home > Feature Articles > Health and Well Being Strategies

Urban gardening and agriculture helps children

Teaching children about where their food comes from helps them connect the need for water quality conservation with their food source.

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"From the garden, and the kitchen, and the table, you learn empathy - for each other and for all of creation; you learn compassion; and you learn patience and self-discipline. A curriculum that teaches these lessons gives children an orientation to the future - it can give them hope."
Alice Waters
California has a long history of agricultural roots. Even urban agriculture has been nurtured as a source of fresh food and sustenance for people in need. But the act of gardening is also about learning how nature works. Experience with natural processes nurture the mind and soul as well as the body. Businesses can help support this connection with the land through providing space for gardens on their properties; fostering non-profit programs; and encouraging employees to share their special knowledge and skills with children who need mentoring.

Home grown food adds freshness and variety to meals. Nurseries carry seeds and plants for California-friendly landscaping, edible landscaping, square-foot gardening and patio gardening. Food doesn’t have to be grown in a big garden. Container gardening, fruit trees, vines that produce fruit, and tiny flower-bed gardens can produce edible food.

Teaching children about where their food comes from helps them connect the need for water quality and conservation with their food source. This knowledge and understanding about the food system can reduce runoff pollution that contaminates our water supply and land. Growing food in a home garden can also instill the joy of working outdoors, teach them homeowner skills and increase their enjoyment of home-grown vegetables (or fruits).

Resouces to support children's gardening are:

The Garden Web is a collaborative effort of a number of educational institutions and corporate partners committed to enhancing learning through the use of teaching gardens in schools and other community settings.

University of California Cooperative Extension. And the Central Coast and South Region Extension offices.

University of California 4-H Center for Youth Development On this site you will find research-based publications that extend knowledge of children, youth, families and communities, as well as communication and skill-building sources for applied research and program evaluation.

University of California, Davis Children's Garden Thousands of elementary school children visit their working farm and garden site each spring to learn about garden ecology and growing food. They offer hands-on training for college students, teachers, parents and volunteers who work with school gardens.

A Google search for Southern California Children's Garden resources.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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