After School Garden Program
Georgia Southern’s Center for Sustainability, the Departments of Biology and Health and Kinesiology, and the Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement have partnered with Bulloch County Parks and Recreation, the Bulloch County Board of Education and Lee Family Fa
rms to develop an After School Garden Program at five elementary schools in Bulloch County. Georgia Southern student volunteers teach elementary children lessons in plant biology, agriculture, health and nutrition during a 10-week garden program that takes place during the Parks and Rec Afterschool Program, Our Time. This program was featured in Georgia Magazine’s July 2015 issue. The garden activities help children to gain a fundamental understanding of plant biology, agriculture, and nutrition, while also engaging them in important and beneficial aspects of gardening. Children learn that our (plant) food doesn’t just come from the grocery store, it actually grows in the ground. The program combines experiential learning, visual aids, and interactive activities that help facilitate an effective, yet enjoyable atmosphere.
Now on its fifth year, the After School Garden Program continues to be a great success. During Fall 2015, the 2nd graders of Langston Chapel, Mattie Lively, Mill Creek, Julia P. Bryant, and Sallie Zetterower Elementary Schools who go to the after-school program, Our Time, participated in the ten-week After School Garden Program. The first six weeks of the program focus on plants and the benefits of gardening, while the last four weeks focus on nutrition and making healthy nutritional choices. Children are part of the process from seed to table. They plant the seeds, nurture the growing plants and even harvest and eat the fruits and vegetables from their school gardens! At the end of the ten week program, children participate in a harvest celebration at a Statesboro Parks and Recreation facility in Statesboro where they cook with all of the produce from their gardens and share their garden experiences with one another. We are especially grateful to Lee Family Farms who provides the plants for the gardens and helps the children to get their gardens established and to Longwood Plantation who has supported the program with their exceptional compost soil.
Monday at Mattie Lively Elementary School Kira Bowden
I think teaching about gardening is important because these kids are the future generation. If we don’t teach them about the environment and sustainability, they will be less likely to care about it when they are leading the world. I teach with this program because I love seeing the kids become interested in this important topic. By the end of the semester, the kids are enthusiastic about going to the gardens, weeding the beds, getting their hands dirty. They learn that their food comes from the earth, and why it’s important to keep the environment healthy and clean.
Tuesday at Mill Creek Elementary School Kaylin Baity
Gardening is an engaging way to introduce sustainable living techniques to young kids. They are able to see these techniques talked about during the lesson in action with the growth of their garden, which they get really excited about. This excitement over healthy foods will hopefully lead to more of them being eaten. Lastly, the knowledge obtained during their time with the gardening program will enhance their understanding of how foods are grown!
Wednesday at Sallie Zetterower Elementary School Kalah Graves
The reason teaching students about gardening is important is because it allows them to get an understanding of what healthy foods are. This way, as they get older, they can continue to learn, and they can eat properly. It can potentially help with obesity in the future if we teach kids before they get older about the importance of growing they’re own food, and eating healthy overall. By growing their own food they also learn about the right way to grow food to avoid possible harm from bad pesticides and unclean plants. I enjoy watching these kids get excited about vegetables and healthy food. It’s something that I wish I had the opportunity to learn when I was their age.
Thursday at Julia P. Bryant Elementary School Samantha MacGuire
I’ve grown to love gardening over the years, and I have greatly enjoy the opportunity to share that passion with others through the After School Garden Program. Gardening helps me reconnect with nature and grow as an individual. Diligence in caring for plants rewards me with delicious food and skills to succeed in life. I have reduced my grocery budget, and grown pretty flowers that bring me joy. I find gardening to be an invaluable skill, an enjoyable pastime, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to garden with others.
Friday at Langston Chapel Elementary School Caitlyn Grunert
Teaching children is especially important to me because as a child I wasn’t exposed to gardening or the education about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables/growing your own food. I think teaching children this information empowers them to make their own healthy choices instead of relying on adults to give it to them because they should. Even if it is one kid that chooses fresh vegetables or fruits over fries/chips, I feel that I have accomplished my mission in teaching and exposing children to healthy alternatives.
Last updated: 3/12/2019