The Children’s Garden Project Brings Garden-Based Learning into the Community

The Children’s Garden Project

Working on garden bedsA childhood filled with playing in the dirt is something that rural folks can almost take for granted. Small lessons about seeds, plant growth, weather, and seasonal changes almost teach themselves when kids are able to explore the earth – and the things that grow in it – for themselves. But what happens when the dirt to dig in is covered with pavement? How do we help children to learn these lessons when the materials aren’t quite so handy?

Thanks to The Children’s Garden Project , kids in the urban areas of Hampden and Hampshire counties have easier access to dig-able, plant-able, fascination-inducing earth! The organization – which begun their work just last year – has helped to bring gardens to locations in Holyoke and West Springfield. This year, the organization has partnered with Head Start to bring gardens to seven new locations in Holyoke, Springfield, and Chicopee.

While school gardens are becoming increasingly more and more prevalent, the founders of The Children’s Garden Project saw one major flaw with the model of using school gardens as a tool for teaching…  students learn a lot when planning and planting the gardens, but most of the harvesting takes place in the summer, when students aren’t around. Instead of putting gardens in places where proper summertime care might be hard to coordinate, The Children’s Garden Project installs them at easily accessible locations that will be visited often throughout the year.

In addition to creating gardens, the organization offers training for staff at each garden location and offers classes to community members who will help to maintain the plots. Kids get to learn about sustainability, growing cycles, and healthy food while they work on the garden, and through their work they will gain an understanding of the power and importance of being connected to their food.

Families can offer support to The Children’s Garden Project this year by helping to build new gardens or by collecting and donating gardening supplies. Even if you don’t live in a neighborhood near one of the gardens, helping to create raised beds could be a meaningful community service project for kids to participate in. Kids who love gardening can help to share this love by having a hand in the creation of the tools that will allow others to learn to appreciate it, too. And thanks to their hard work, other kids will be able to dig their hands into warm soil on a sunny day and begin to learn some of the same lessons that come naturally from a rural landscape.

For more information about The Children’s Garden Project or to inquire about volunteering at a building event, contact the organization or call 413-992-8010.  Volunteers, supplies, and funds are always needed!

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