Let Them Grow: Garden Herbs

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Garden Growth and Gifts

Our garden herbs are growing and it’s time to start reaping the rewards! Young children love to harvest, allowing them to connect to the land and have a sense satisfaction from the work they have put into growing their garden. This early summer we are using garden herbs as gifts for Father’s Day, teacher appreciation and birthdays. Here are a few recipes of the garden-based gifts we’ve made so far…  Read the rest of this entry »

Playing with a Purpose: Gardening with your Children

Gardening and Nutrition Workshops at New Lands Farm

Using the seasons as a catalyst for learning can help connect kids to their environment and the seasonal cycles of their community. Garden-based learning is just one activity that is on many minds every spring. Stop and think what else cycles around each year and how you can use it as a point of entry to community-based education. Then take advantage of your local resources, following your interests and education through community engagement.

Gardening is a multidisciplinary activity embedded with learning every step along the way, from botany to soil science to meteorology.  Gardening with children encourages their natural inquisitiveness and experimentation. Plus, most kids love to get dirty! If your child loves being outside, gardening together will give you both a productive reason to spend more time in nature.

Garden-based learning is a fun and productive activity to try with your children. After you have planted your foods or flowers, your child can nurture them and watch them grow. As children nurture plants and watch them change, they learn about scientific concepts such as habitat and life cycle. On an even more basic level, they learn the logic of cause and effect relationships, for example, if a plant does not get water it will wither. Waiting for a bulb to flower or fruits to grow can teach patience, while plants that require a lot of watering can start discussions about responsibility.

Combining gardening with cooking can have a great impact on your child’s nutrition. Getting children involved in growing and preparing the foods they eat can have a positive impact on dietary choices. Incorporating whatever foods are ready to be eaten into your dinner can teach you to be creative and add variety to your meals. Plus, harvesting the result of your effort and enjoying it in a meal can teach your children about long-term rewards. Gardening and farming make vegetables fun, and instill in children the importance of understanding where food comes from.

If you don’t know anything about gardening, you can learn alongside your child, encouraging each other in a new activity. Families with children ages 5-12 are invited to attend a series of workshops on gardening and nutrition at New Lands Farm. The first workshop will meet on Tuesday, May 3 from 4pm-5pm. Each week will cover a different topic, and participants will get to work in a community garden plot. Call 413-787-0725 x422 for more information. 334 Birnie Avenue, West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Resources that Support Garden-Based Learning

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: May Segment
Resources that Support Garden-Based Learning

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal host, Ashley Kohl, to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Thursday, May 28, 2015, this month looking at community-based education through the lens of gardening.  Sienna and Ashley talk about ways to expose our families to gardening-based learning experiences, both with in the garden and out in your community.

Using the seasons as a catalyst for learning can help connect kids to their environment and the seasonal cycles of their community. Garden-based learning is just one activity that is on many minds every spring. Stop and think what else cycles around each year and how you can use it as a point of entry to community-based education. Then take advantage of your local resources, following your interests and education through community engagement.

Discover local events and resources that make connects and support garden-based learning in our post, Learning through the Lens of Gardens.


Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be Thursday, June 25!

HHuGE Wagon Update: New Hours & Volunteer Opportunity

HHuGE Wagon Hours Are Changing!
By HHuGE Coordinator, Janet Henderson

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Hi! I am Janet Henderson, the new Hilltown Home Garden Exchange (HHuGE) Wagon coordinator, and I am writing to let you know that, because the produce in the wagon is not lasting in this heat (and other issues), the hours the wagon is open are changing.

The new hours are:

  • Fridays from 5pm-8pm
  • Saturday from 9am-8pm

If you have extra produce to leave off at the wagon, please do so during these times. And, please, regardless of whether you have anything to donate, do take advantage of the large amount of produce that is being left and take whatever you can use. The produce is available to all.

Also, please let others know about the new hours. I don’t want people to be frustrated going there only to find it closed. I will also post the new hours on the wagon.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY

If you would be available to help open the wagon on Friday evenings (around 5PM) or to close it on Fridays (after 8PM) or to open it on Saturday mornings (before 9AM), please let me know (bellajanet27@gmail.com). I could use the help. Opening the wagon should only take a few minutes, but closing it may take a little longer, since any wilted produce needs to be removed and any bags, boxes, buckets, etc. need to be tidied. The main qualification for this volunteer opportunity is dependability.

Thank you for helping to make the HHuGE wagon a success in providing free fresh produce to people in the area!  Find out more about HHuGE at www.HHuGE.org

Grow a Rainbow with Your Kids!

Grow a Rainbow with Your Kids!

Northampton Community Gardens 6

Chard in the garden. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

It’s widely known that kids need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. But how do you make this fun and engaging for them? “Grow a vegetable garden,” says Sarah Pounders, educational specialist at NGA. “Gardens motivate children to try new fruits and vegetables. Kids are eager to taste the fruits of their labor and quickly learn that those healthy foods are tasty, too. Eating fruits and vegetables is important for proper physical and mental development, but few children (or adults, for that matter) consume the amount recommended by current health guidelines. Gardening with your kids gets them excited about the plants on their plate and provides you with a bountiful supply of fresh produce.”

Many of the pigments responsible for the color of fruits and vegetables are also linked to different health benefits. Plants have pigments to protect them from environmental factors (such as sunlight) and from harmful byproducts of plant processes like photosynthesis. When we consume fruits and vegetables, we receive benefits from these pigments that are similar to what they do for the plant – we get protection from environmental factors and cell-damaging chemical byproducts.” Because of this, nutrition educators came up with a simple message: Eat a Rainbow. By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables in all different colors you maximize your health benefits. So this summer, grow a garden filled with red, yellow/orange, green, blue/purple, and white vegetables and have your kids eat a serving of each color every day.

April is National Garden Month. Get ready for spring with National Gardening Association.

Update on Hilltown Home Garden Exchange (HHuGE)

Update on Hilltown Home Garden Exchange (HHuGE)
By HHuGE Coordinator, Kathy McMahon

We were in the Chesterfield Parade on the Fourth of July, (dressed as farmers and vegetables) and handed out produce to the crowd. We won Fourth Place!!!! Many people had ALREADY heard about us, so we're getting around!!! Wonderful coverage in the Country Journal as well, complete with evidential photography! (Photo credit: Jennifer Peotter)

WHAT IS HHuGE? In a nutshell

  • Bringing family gardeners together to donate their excess bounty – in trade or just to help local families in need.
  • Nature is abundant, just not evenly distributed.
  • Sharing fresh, wholesome produce is the neighborly thing to do!

UPDATES: A few quick updates about the happenings with HHuGE

  1. Our Grand Opening is Monday, July 20, 2009. Please stop by and take a look! We’ll be in the Old Creamery parking lot on the corners of Rte 9 and Rte 112, Cummington, MA.
  2. We are needing volunteers to help paint our ‘wagon.’ It needs to be primed in the next few days and final paint put on before Monday. If you can help between now and then, please contact me (Kathy- 634-0002.) We need your help with priming and putting on the final touches!
  3. We have a website now, and a calendar of events. See www.HHuGE.org and click “calendar” to see the weeks we have open weeks. If you can get a group of friends or an organization to open and close the wagon for one week, let me know. It is a job that will take less than 10 minutes.
  4. We were in the Chesterfield Parade on the Fourth of July, (dressed as farmers and vegetables) and handed out produce to the crowd. We won Fourth Place!!!! Many people had ALREADY heard about us, so we’re getting around!!! Wonderful coverage in the Country Journal as well, complete with evidential photography!
  5. If you haven’t already, it isn’t too late to Take the Lead, Plant More Seed. If we ever DO get a steady week of heat, consider planting a whole host of plants like carrots, lettuce, kale, radishes, swiss chard, and the like. Consider helping those facing hard times, and creating the sharing spirit for which the hilltowns are so famous for.

TIP OF THE HAT:  A Word of Thanks

HAVE WE MISSED YOU?

We’d like to involve all area churches and organizations that are invested in improved food security in the hilltowns. If you’d like to get involved, please let us know.

We ask anyone interested in coordinating their civic or religious organization’s participation to contact Kathy at peakshrink@peakoilblues.com for more details. All volunteers: Please stay tune for a late summer party held just for you (you’re the greatest!!!) celebrating our upcoming success!!!

PILOT PROGRAM

If you know of folks that would like to participate in this pilot program (to adopt it into their own town next year…) have them contact Kathy McMahon at peakshrink@peakoilblues.com

Thank you for your time reading this, and for your interest in caring for your friends and neighbors in these wonderful hilltowns.

Hilltown Home Garden Exchange (HHuGE) Wagon Opens July 20th!

Share the Abundance of the Hilltowns!
Introducing
Hilltown Home Garden Exchange (HHuGE)

Hilltown Home Garden Exchange (HHuGE)

Wagon opens July 20th, 2009 at the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA.

BRING YE! BRING YE!
Your carrots and tomatoes, your bountiful harvest, yearning to circulate with other plump produce!

TAKE YE! TAKE YE!
That which ye will eat, and rejoice with us as we GIVE and TAKE without charge, with the open neighborly spirit our Hilltowns are known for.

GARDEN PRODUCE, PARTICIPATION & VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!

More information at:
https://hilltownfamilies.wordpress.com/hhuge
or contact Kathy McMahon @ 634-0002 to volunteer

Sponsored by ‘Eating is not an Option,” a growing coalition of local political leaders, Fraternal organizations and non-profits in the Hilltowns, including the Hilltown Food Pantry, Loaves & Fishes and Hilltown Families.

Hilltown Families’ Kids Invited to March in Chesterfield’s 4th of July Parade

Kathy McMahon of Cummington, MA writes:

(Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Not only is eating fresh veggies & fruit fun, but so is dressing up as your favorite garden delicacy! Join Hilltown Home (united) Garden Exchange (HHuGE) in Chesterfield's 4th of July Parade! (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

We are going to be in the CHESTERFIELD 4TH OF JULY PARADE!

We invite all the little vegetables and fruits in our Hilltowns to show up to announce (and not to squash!) the opening of HHuGE! (Hilltown Home (united) Garden Exchange! Don’t ‘veg out!’

Don’t find yourself in a pickle, dress like one!

March and wave with us as we parade along handing out baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and cards cheering the soil, our towns and our community spirit!

Perhaps some Hilltown Families’ kids have a few veggie costumes of their own to join us? A fancy zucchini hat someone wants to show off? Edible flower bonnet?

Contact: Kathy McMahon at 634-0002, peakshrink@peakoilblues.com

More information at:
https://hilltownfamilies.wordpress.com/hhuge

Share Your Family Gardening Tips

How Does Your (Child’s) Garden Grow?

Northampton Community Gardens 17

Extremes like giant sunflowers or cherry tomatoes are good choices of plants for children to have in their gardens. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

This is the first year our family will have a “family garden” where our daughter can have her very own little plot of dirt for digging and planting.  She’s very excited and already very proud of the row of sprouting beet and zinnia seeds she has planted.

  • Anyone else have or planning on having a space for your kids to garden? What are your plans or what have you figured out that works best?

Cynthia Davis Klemmer, the Children’s Education Coordinator at the Massachusetts Horticultural Societysuggests these gardening activity tips for families:

  • Start small.
  • Be willing to put up with a less-than-perfect looking garden.
  • Leave an area where kids can dig, even after planting.
  • Get some child-sized tools or plastic spoons.
  • Make a secret place in the garden for your kids.
  • Plant extremes like huge flowers (sunflowers), small veggies (cherry tomatoes), and fragrant plants (chocolate mint).
  • Teach your kids how to compost.
  • Share gardening how-to books and storybooks.

%d bloggers like this: