Texas Agriculture May 20, 2016 : Page 9

By Jessica Domel News Editor While other children are watching television, texting friends or looking for something to do this summer, the kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Texas in Gatesville will be happily playing outdoors, getting their hands dirty and proudly grow-ing their own food. The club has a bountiful contain-er garden this year that engages both children and their parents. “For a lot of our kids, their food comes from a can or comes from McDonald’s or Taco Bell. They don’t really know where their food comes from,” Julie Hudson, branch direc-tor, said. “Part of our reason for doing this was to show kids where their food comes from. They’re able to come out and pick what they grow and eat it immediately. That’s very satisfying for them.” The garden, housed on the side of the club’s main building, was plant-ed this year with financial assis-tance through Texas Farm Bureau’s (TFB) Learning From the Ground Up grant program. “The (kids) started out growing seeds in petri dishes to see how the roots would form. Then we moved up to planting seeds in little containers and then growing them that way,” Hudson said. “We transplanted them out here. There are a few things we bought plants for—like the onions. For the most part, they put them in the little cups and they took off.” This year’s garden includes to-matoes, potatoes, peas, radishes, let-tuce, herbs, squash and sunflowers. The project also includes a but-terfly garden, bird feeders and bird houses hand-painted by the children. A group of about 30 children and several adults, including Hudson, care for the garden. “They help water and pick. They’ll pull weeds. A lot of it is just being out here. The kids get to come out here and look. Sometimes, it’s like Easter. They get to find a zucchini, and it’s like, ‘Oh, a zucchini!’” Hudson said. “The looks on their faces when they find a new vegetable that has come up is priceless.” Visits to the garden include more than simply caring for the plants. Adults point out pests, weeds, blooms and other items of interest in the garden. It’s all part of a hands-on educational experience. “The plan was to wait for the to-matoes, peppers and onions to get ready so we could pick them, make some salsa and teach the kids to can,” Hudson said. The process benefits more than just the children involved in the gar-den club. “The parents love it,” Hudson said. “We’ve actually had some par-ents ask how their kids can get in-volved in the garden club. I think they’re really interested in it.” The Coryell County Farm Bureau (CFB) was instrumental in helping the club receive the grant from TFB. “They came up and did a tour of our location at one of their meetings,” Hudson said. “They told me about the grant, so we applied for it. Cody (Archie) and a couple of other people have been up here to check on us to see what we need. It’s been great.” Archie, who serves on the Coryell CFB board, said he feels the garden is a great thing that allows children who are not normally exposed to ag-riculture to see what it’s like to grow their own food. He said he feels like it may instill a passion for gardening or agriculture in children who may not otherwise experience it. Coryell CFB President Victor Dutschmann said he hopes the chil-dren retain what they’ve learned and are able to use it later on in life if they decide to plant a garden of their own or go into farming for themselves. “It (the garden project) will help them appreciate what goes into rais-ing plants and foods,” Dutschmann said. Now in its second year, the garden has been a learning experience for adults and children alike. Hudson hopes it continues to be something everyone is able to enjoy and learn from. “Getting the kids outdoors, away from electronics, and letting them get their hands dirty working with nature, you can’t replace that,” Hud-son said. “Knowing where their food comes from is priceless.” The Learning from the Ground Up grant program is open to schools across the state. Funding is provided through grants to help schools es-tablish or improve school gardens or greenhouses. The program is one of several of-fered by TFB designed to engage people with farmers, ranchers and dairymen who grow and raise the food they eat. Kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Texas in Gatesville care for the garden. TFB’s From the Ground Up program helps students make the connection with agriculture through school gardens. M AY 20 , 2016 9

Growing with the Garden

Jessica Domel

While other children are watching television, texting friends or looking for something to do this summer, the kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Texas in Gatesville will be happily playing outdoors, getting their hands dirty and proudly growing their own food.

The club has a bountiful container garden this year that engages both children and their parents.

“For a lot of our kids, their food comes from a can or comes from McDonald’s or Taco Bell. They don’t really know where their food comes from,” Julie Hudson, branch director, said. “Part of our reason for doing this was to show kids where their food comes from. They’re able to come out and pick what they grow and eat it immediately. That’s very satisfying for them.”

The garden, housed on the side of the club’s main building, was planted this year with financial assistance through Texas Farm Bureau’s (TFB) Learning From the Ground Up grant program.

“The (kids) started out growing seeds in petri dishes to see how the roots would form. Then we moved up to planting seeds in little containers and then growing them that way,” Hudson said. “We transplanted them out here. There are a few things we bought plants for—like the onions. For the most part, they put them in the little cups and they took off.”

This year’s garden includes tomatoes, potatoes, peas, radishes, lettuce, herbs, squash and sunflowers.

The project also includes a butterfly garden, bird feeders and bird houses hand-painted by the children.

A group of about 30 children and several adults, including Hudson, care for the garden.

“They help water and pick. They’ll pull weeds. A lot of it is just being out here. The kids get to come out here and look. Sometimes, it’s like Easter. They get to find a zucchini, and it’s like, ‘Oh, a zucchini!’” Hudson said. “The looks on their faces when they find a new vegetable that has come up is priceless.”

Visits to the garden include more than simply caring for the plants.

Adults point out pests, weeds, blooms and other items of interest in the garden. It’s all part of a hands-on educational experience.

“The plan was to wait for the tomatoes, peppers and onions to get ready so we could pick them, make some salsa and teach the kids to can,” Hudson said.

The process benefits more than just the children involved in the garden club.

“The parents love it,” Hudson said. “We’ve actually had some parents ask how their kids can get involved in the garden club. I think they’re really interested in it.”

The Coryell County Farm Bureau (CFB) was instrumental in helping the club receive the grant from TFB.

“They came up and did a tour of our location at one of their meetings,” Hudson said. “They told me about the grant, so we applied for it. Cody (Archie) and a couple of other people have been up here to check on us to see what we need. It’s been great.”

Archie, who serves on the Coryell CFB board, said he feels the garden is a great thing that allows children who are not normally exposed to agriculture to see what it’s like to grow their own food. He said he feels like it may instill a passion for gardening or agriculture in children who may not otherwise experience it.

Coryell CFB President Victor Dutschmann said he hopes the children retain what they’ve learned and are able to use it later on in life if they decide to plant a garden of their own or go into farming for themselves.

“It (the garden project) will help them appreciate what goes into raising plants and foods,” Dutschmann said.

Now in its second year, the garden has been a learning experience for adults and children alike.

Hudson hopes it continues to be something everyone is able to enjoy and learn from.

“Getting the kids outdoors, away from electronics, and letting them get their hands dirty working with nature, you can’t replace that,” Hudson said. “Knowing where their food comes from is priceless.”

The Learning from the Ground Up grant program is open to schools across the state. Funding is provided through grants to help schools establish or improve school gardens or greenhouses.

The program is one of several offered by TFB designed to engage people with farmers, ranchers and dairymen who grow and raise the food they eat.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Growing+with+the+Garden/2485173/302841/article.html.

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