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The Boys and Girls Club of Washington County is on its way to raising up the next generation of green thumbs with the help of its community partners Mars Food, Molina Healthcare of Mississippi and the Kroger Delta Division.
These community partners hosted Garden Day Thursday at the local club to educate its youth on growing and harvesting vegetables and build on their foundation of wholesome and healthy eating habits.
“This event is a continuation of the initiatives Mars Food, Molina Healthcare of Mississippi and the Kroger Delta Division have implemented to improve access tohealthy foods and education for the region’s underserved,” said Kyla Washington, Mars Food community engagement coordinator.
Washington County’s Master Gardener’s Club were on hand to assist with demonstrations and guiding the young participants’ through the essential steps of planting and harvesting.
“Our kids really enjoyed this morning’s project,” Joan Rowe, chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County said, noting the attendance of Mayor Errick Simmons and the Master Gardener Volunteers. “It’s very beneficial in regard to children knowing how to not only plant seeds, watch and harvest them, but how to start eating nutritionally — that’s the most important thing.”
Washington conducted a “Q&A” session at the conclusion of the Garden Day event in which the youth responded with their answers to questions about the digging of the soil for planting, watering the seeds and the best time to do so and the amount of time it takes to start seeing the different phases of growth.
“Our kids were very involved. They were digging up soil, putting water in the holes and everything to put their plants there,” Rowe shared. Once you’re doing something with your own hands that’s a big difference.
“We may see things in the store that say “organic,” but if you’re not there yourself to actually see that it was actually planted and harvested in fertilizer, you really don’t know if it’s organic or not. And with them doing this project here, they can truly say they have eaten organic produce because they’re actually going to be able to actually grow and harvest this themselves.”
With Mars Food and Molina Healthcare having already taken strides to drive the importance of healthy eating by exposing the club’s youth to making smoothies and introductory planting lessons, the future for a healthier community seems promising.
Rowe is hoping through the engagement of such hands-on educational activities and materials, the Boys and Girls Club youth understand the importance of what they are doing and impart what they have gleaned to those who will come after them.
She made a reference to the well-known proverb, “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you’ll feed him for a lifetime,” to illustrate what the club and its community partners are hoping to achieve.
Fifteen-year-old Boys and Girls Club peer leader Issac Simmons said he really enjoyed Garden Day.
“I learned some things I didn’t know, for instance, the hole has to be deep enough for the roots to grow in there and I also learned how to actually dig the dirt up,” he said. “They let me participate in doing that and we planted corn, green okra, tomatoes and cucumbers.”
However, Simmons’ favorite vegetable happens to be lettuce.
He hopes to one day raise a garden of his own and also learn about growing trees.
Simmons was asked what his responsibility as a peer leader meant to him.
“I’m over the boys, so I’ve got to show them how to become young men without them ending up in gangs or stuff like that,” he replied.
Rowe affirmed his capability of setting the right example for boys looking up to him.
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