Garden programs work to combat this 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. They discover that produce does not magically appear on the grocery store shelves and 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 of where they come from motivates students to try them, often times leading to more positive attitudes and eating behaviors. Fruits and vegetables are an important part of the diet not only because they provide essential vitamins, but also because they are also linked to prevention of health problems like cancer and heart disease. Studies show that a majority of children do not eat the recommended amount of fresh fruits and vegetables each day, and so they are missing out on these benefits.
How has 4-H Helped?
The project provided a mentor program linking Hughson 4-H members with the Hughson Elementary School. Students learned the importance of good nutrition and created a school garden to assist students in the development of social skills and interpersonal relationships and increase awareness for about healthier food choices.
Participants learned about soil science, fertilizer, making soil tests and when to fertilize; planted a summer vegetable garden with peppers, cucumbers, squash, herbs and eggplant; assisted with the maintenance of the garden (rototilling, weeding, fertilizing, pest control, harvesting and installing an irrigation system); created special projects (scarecrow contests, harvest event) and educational activities for the community.