Beyond academics, the garden provides broader life lessons including contributing to students' knowledge of how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The state of California is experiencing a major health crisis as the number of overweight and obese youth is growing at an epidemic rate. Approximately one in three children are overweight or at risk of being overweight, and almost 40 percent of school-aged children are considered unfit. The number of weight-related chronic diseases such as diabetes is of great concern to health care professionals, and the need for prevention education is critical.
How will 4-H help?
This project will establish a community garden based on the principles of nutrition. By creating a community garden, students and community members will be able to grow food that can be used in the schools and in the community at large. Students will experience the food process from planting, harvesting, marketing, cooking, and consuming. Garden programs work to combat the obesity epidemic by teaching youth about healthy lifestyles including proper nutrition and physical activity. Through a gardening program, students gain firsthand experience with fresh fruits and vegetables and discover that produce does not magically appear on the grocery store shelves. They learn about the important role of agriculture in our society. The pride and curiosity sparked by growing the fruits and vegetables along with the familiarity with where they come from motivates students to try them, often times leading to more positive attitudes and eating behaviors. A garden program increases produce availability and creates opportunities to teach students what they should eat through fun, hands-on experiences. Project partners will include Stanislaus County Nutrition Education, Hughson FFA Chapter, Hughson Garden Club, Hughson Elementary School, and local agribusiness and farmers.
Throughout this entire project, not only are the kids learning, but we are learning with them. It is a win-win situation.
By encouraging and supporting gardens, Hughson 4-H club members created opportunities for our children to discover fresh food, make healthier food choices, and become better nourished. Gardens offer dynamic, beautiful settings in which to integrate every discipline, including science, math, reading, environmental studies, nutrition, and health. Such interdisciplinary approaches cultivate the talents and skills of all students, while enriching the students' capacities of observation and thinking. Young people can experience deeper understandings of natural systems and become better stewards of the Earth by designing, cultivating, and harvesting school gardens with their own hands. Students will understand the basic plant biology, soil and plant nutrition related to food production. School garden projects nurture community spirit, common purpose, and cultural appreciation by building bridges among students, school staff, families, local businesses, and organizations. Beyond academics, the garden provides broader life lessons including contributing to students’ knowledge of how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Through the maintenance of the garden, story readings and projects with the students, the Hughson 4-H club members and students alike learned life long lessons in nutrition, agriculture, environmental stewardship, Taking action and becoming a leader was a huge part of this project. Not only did they lead the kids, but they were their teachers. They helped them learn about agriculture and what it does for individuals as well as the community. Hughson 4-Hers experienced the patience it takes to teach children from all walks of life. They learned the importance of displaying kindess and self-control as a mentor throughout the learning process for both the 4-Hers as mentors and the children as students. The members of the Hughson 4-H club saw how kids understand things differently than adults do and the necessity of finding different ways of explaining and teaching the students the importance of agriculture and fresh food in the diet.