Parkland Boys and Girls Garden Club
An apple a day keeps the doctor away…
We all know the idioms and we’ve all been told that eating healthy positively affects one’s body and mind. In fact, we know that when basic needs are met, we are healthier, more financially stable, our children do better in school and our communities thrive. The Parkland Boys and Girls Club is taking matters into their own hands, and even getting them a little dirty, with their new Kentucky Proud Urban Garden program.
In June of 2014, the Parkland Boys and Girls Club, a funding investment partner of Metro United Way, established this garden program in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture as part of their out-of-school time programs. The ‘Garden Club’ aims to educate children about gardening and healthy eating but also incorporates math, agriculture, entrepreneurship and community engagement as well. The children are also learning by participating in field trips to local farmers markets and the Louisville Vegan Kitchen’s (LVK) FoodsULuv Buffet. Parkland Unit Director, Leslie Cairo, made clear that this fast-growing program is about education, providing healthy food alternatives, and providing good fuel for the children’s bodies.
And Parkland’s Urban Garden has also caught the attention of local restaurant owner, Ramsi, of Ramsi’s Café on the World. He recently hosted nearly 150 kids from the Parkland Boys and Girls Club over three days in July, telling them over a meal about his own difficult childhood growing up in Jerusalem. Parkland’s Garden Club is also coordinating with Ramsi to take a field trip to his Raising Hope Organic Farm in eastern Jefferson County to see gardening on a larger scale, and older members of the club will be able to apply to Ramsi’s this fall for restaurant job openings!
One of the long-term goals of The Garden is to provide the surrounding community and parents with fresh produce and the knowledge to start gardens of their own. The crop, which includes corn, squash, tomatoes, beans, blackberries and much more, is used in meals for the Parkland kids and is also given to the members of the club to take home to their families to prepare.
The future of the garden program is bright with plans to expand the Parkland garden, and for other Boys and Girls Clubs in our community to expand their own urban gardens as well. Eventually, the gardens will sell their produce to the public, teaching children essential math skills in the process.
Health and well being is essential for our community’s prosperity and the Parkland Boys and Girls Club is setting an inspiring example for us all, planting seeds of healthy living while building family and community engagement.