The garden is located on half an acre in an urban neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri where we have a master gardener, a director, and ten youth working in the garden. We grow organic peas, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, a variety of greens, herbs, onions, celery, pears, peaches, and much more.
We have never gardened any other way. We have always used the method of organic. With no herbicides or pesticides, we make our own compost with composting the veggies, leaves, rabbit manure, and chicken manure.
To teach the youth how to:
- Garden under the organic method.
- Work together, and how to eat foods that they are not used to eating.
- Math skills, Reading, and doing research on foods they normally call “nasty.”
The hands-on experience starts with tilling which prepares the ground for planting in the spring and teaches the youth about the fruit and veggies they will be growing. The youth learn to compost and how great of an impact this has with the environment. This shows them how nothing goes to waste and how rotten produce can make the garden grow the next season. We started by giving each youth a survey, to find out what they wanted to plant. We made a list of seeds needed from the surveys, and ordered them. From there we worked on the compost. The group met at the garden 3-4 times a week, weather permitting.
The Univ. Missouri, Lincoln University, and Kansas State are the locations of the three Extension programs that helped us by providing us with support and information. We were given information on things such as marketing tips, causes for diseases and fungi, and how to prune fruit trees.
We found that the youth developed better self-esteem. They saw the fruits of their labor and how their hard work had paid off. The youth walked away with more knowledge than when they came with. Knowledge of a garden, what it takes to have and build one, and teamwork are only a few things the youth walked away knowing more about.
We learned how much more important washing your hands and fruits and vegetables are. After all that is going on with bacterial outbreaks in our spinach, peanut butter, fruit, and chicken throughout the world, knowing your farmer and their practices is vital. By knowing your farmer you are made aware of and are able to stay on top of their practices and you have knowledge and awareness of what you are eating. The disadvantage for little farmers is that it’s hard for them to sell their produce in chain stores or restaurants. The advantage for little farmers is that we can sell on site and not have to compete with others because we are the only one with a market on the Paseo. We have worked on this project for seven years and we are still working on it — we will continue working on this for a long while.
We used the 49/69-community newsletter along with flyers to get the word out about he garden and any activities we have in association with it