Youth Grew a Vegetable Garden and Gave It Away
Residential Horticulture Extension Agent
UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County
Situation: Existing research supports that youth gardens can not only influence healthy eating choices, and manage childhood obesity, but also can provide a sense of well-being and may lead to gardening endeavors later in life. Gardening engages youth who work together to plant, maintain and harvest fruits and vegetables. In multiple studies, children who grow their own food are more likely to eat a diet consisting of food they have grown. The combination of fresh fruits and vegetables and physical activity in the garden can lead to a reduction in childhood obesity. Additionally, students who participated gardening programs had greater science achievement gains. Methods: UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County Master Gardener Volunteers sponsor a large youth garden for over 40 youth every week during the school year. The participating school-age youth selected the Youth Garden as an after-school activity with over 20 attending on one of two days the garden as part of the Sumter County Youth Center in Bushnell, FL. Youth learn life skills as they sow seeds, propagate plants, and grow, and harvest fruits and vegetables. Results: Since April 2022, a total of 379 youth participated in the Youth Garden. Youth demonstrate vegetable gardening knowledge gain through observation by Master Gardener Volunteers. In 2022, participating youth not only took fresh vegetables home to enjoy, but also donated 750 heads of lettuce in the fall and , 5.5 pounds of onions, 104.5 pounds of cabbages, 23.75 pounds of broccoli and 18.75 additional pounds of lettuce in the spring. The vegetables they had grown were donated for families in need to the Hope Center Food Bank in Bushnell, FL. Conclusion: The Master Gardener Volunteers are sharing their knowledge, the youth gardeners are helping to grow vegetables and giving them away to families in need demonstrating empathy for their community.
Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC
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Authors: Lisa Sanderson
Sanderson, L. Residential Horticulture Extension Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County, Florida, 33513