Give a kid a carrot, and maybe that child will eat it. But teach the child to grow carrots? That can create a vegetable lover – and even a gardener – for life. That idea has led teachers to dig in with their students as school gardens and garden-based programs put kids in touch with nature. While getting their hands dirty, hundreds of local children earned green thumbs in innovative programs that teach gardening. Besides learning basic botany and earth science, the kids receive outdoor exercise and better nutrition.
One such urban farm; Soil Born Farms in Rancho Cordova is reaching out to Sacramento children and their families. What they have discovered is that children bring their parents to the farm and show them beans they planted. These kids will help make healthier choices for family meals. Parents are commenting on how their children are now taking pride in their gardens and loving what they grow….they are finally eating their vegetables!
With help from a small group of talented staff and apprentices, foundation grants, grassroots support, dedicated volunteers and encouragement from community partners, Soil Born Farms grew to operate two urban farms on over forty acres in Sacramento and Rancho Cordova. It has evolved into a nationally recognized center for the promotion of urban agriculture, sustainable food systems and healthy food education.
Their programs focus on promoting health and providing experiential learning opportunities for youth and adults, producing healthy food, improving access to healthy food for all and modeling land and environmental stewardship. Beyond producing healthy, certified organic produce for their 80 share CSA and local stores, restaurants, and farm stands, Soil Born Farms has also developed several innovative education and food access programs in partnership with area schools and agencies.
Soil Born Farms works with more than 800 students who takes part in programs on the 40-acre organic farm. Soil Born, which has two farms, hosts the most extensive local program for students from kindergarten through college. Soil Born Farms allows youth and adults to rediscover and participate in a system of food production and distribution that promotes healthy living, nurtures the environment and brings people together to share the simple pleasures of living life in harmony with nature.
“Our program have grown exponentially,” said Galante, who launched it in October 2007. “When we started, we had 10 kids come for two hours one day a week. Now we have hundreds involved.”
Youth gardening programs are sprouting up all over. By offering these urban farm programs communities come together to promote a stronger, healthier California.
Kids and their families are getting connected with where food comes from while eating healthy, local and organic. Even kindergartners; the kids are getting it. Gardening gives kids a sense of accomplishment, and they also give back to the community. It’s good for building self-esteem and confidence. “Primarily, our focus is to connect kids with where food comes from,” said Galante, a former sixth-grade teacher. “They get hands-on experience with growing, harvesting and eating fresh food.”
Soil Born Farms has assisted in the development of new urban growing sites including small farms and community gardens. These food-producing resources provide healthy produce to areas in Sacramento with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Through the replication of gardens and small farms throughout the county we hope to slowly assist in the creation of a truly “local” food system using sustainable food production practices. Seasonal activities are offered at Soil Born’s two urban farm ranches focusing on many programs enriching and educating children’s lives.