By Marcus McCartney, ANR Educator & Sara Kroll, SNAP-ED Program Assistant
Growing up in poverty can significantly affect the health, wellbeing, and development of children and adolescents. Due to rising rates of obesity, especially among youth, much attention is currently being focused to address this epidemic. Programs which incorporate gardening provide opportunities for hands-on food, nutrition and physical activity education for children. In-school gardens improve children’s eating habits.
At the local Boys and Girls Club of Washington County, located in Marietta, Ohio, 62.2% of youth is eligible for free or reduced lunch. The Boys and Girls Club purpose is to provide programs and services which promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence (Boys and Girls Club of America). To help fulfill this purpose The Boys and Girls Club of Washington County partnered with Ohio State University Extension. As a result, the “Learning Gardens” were implemented to teach students the value and importance of horticulture and nutrition. For students, school or club gardens serve as living classrooms that teach lessons as simple as "where our food comes from" to complex lessons on ecology, resource management, nutrition and healthy lifestyles.