Summer in the Garden
The Westside Orchard Garden (WOG) is in full celebration when school is out and the kids are back in the Garden. 2018 will be the 6th year of our Summer in the Garden Program and we're continuing to include youth from the Boys & Girls Club, the Cameron Family Center (Rescue Mission), the Community Mental Health Summer Kids program and the Salvation Army Youth Program. This year we will have 50-65 youth in the Garden Monday through Thursday, with a combined total of 150+ every week!
We are blessed once again with 2 incredible AmeriCorps Vista Summer Associates - Kevin Speth from Great Falls, and Jasmine Lee from Chicago. They work with the youth groups every day, and help Sean, our Garden Manager, with the Garden when the kids aren't present. We're so grateful to have both of them with us this year - witnessing them work with the youth is really wonderful. The benefit goes both ways, as we know! We nurture the Garden, and the Garden nurtures us.
As one of our 3rd graders said, as she walked beside the gardener to harvest veggies, "You know, the garden is my happy place!" It's our happy place, too, when the kids are all there.
Kids will pick what is ripe as the summer goes on, make salads, have honey "sandwiches" with honey from the beehives, and learn to love eating what they grow. This picture is zucchini bread that they made - and they are all getting a sample with lunch. Picking and eating carrots is a favorite activity! Beet greens? Why not? If they grow it, they all want to try a taste, and most like what they taste. Truly a new experience for most of them...
Learning about mulching - why mulch, how to mulch - saving water, helping the plants through the hot summer weather. Learning all the time about how to grow successfully. Kids love playing in the dirt, and research shows that the benefits to kids from doing just that have been measured to show that they are better communicators, better at relationships, better in school, better with their families. All from "playing in the dirt'! It's those good microbes!