Not too many years ago, just about every home had a garden. People raised their own fruits and vegetables, which they ate fresh through the summer and into the fall, putting up the rest to have through the winter months.

And then supermarkets came along. People started eating out at restaurants, and produce became available year round thanks to imports from other states and countries. It became easier to eat out or buy it than to raise it, leaving the last generation or two with little to no appreciation for raising their own food.

Gardening used to be a necessity but today it’s become almost a luxury, given the time and effort involved in raising healthy fruits and vegetables.

But it’s a luxury that young children need to learn, and thanks to LAMP’s ConAgra Heart and Hands project, they now have that chance.

Taking an overgrown trashy field in the inner city of Valdosta and transforming it into a lush organic garden is an accomplishment, but the fact that this was done by children makes the accomplishment that much more admirable.

From ages 10 to 17, these young men and women are learning about gardening, but also about farming and nutrition. The project’s grant allows the organizers to take the youth on field trips, literally, to see first hand how farming operations work. They will also learn about nutrition and will then be taught how to create Power Point presentations in order to give an account of their year-long experiences.

The emphasis on the program begins with learning healthy eating and habits, but along the way, these youth are learning far more about work, about ethics, about the satisfaction of working with their hands, and about having a respect for themselves and their own abilties.

Congratulations to the LAMP organizers and volunteers who are making this program possible, and kudos to the youth who are investing their time and energy into watching the fruits of their labors ripen and grow.

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