Youth Learn to Grow Their Own Food
Situation: Madison County is a rural community where many citizens face hunger and issues with food accessibility. This year this problem was exasperated due to COVID-19. N.C. Cooperative Extension of Madison County is addressing food insecurity in several ways in 2020, one being through our 4-H School Enrichment Programming.
Response: Madison County 4-H is responding to food insecurity by providing 4-H Soil Solutions School Enrichment to 3rd-grade classes. Students learn about soil properties, plant growth, and sustainability. Most importantly, youth learn where food comes from and how to grow a garden to produce their own food. The ability to grow a garden is a life skill that may help children and their families become more food secure at home.
One hundred eighteen students in seven 3rd-grade classes at Mars Hill Elementary and Hot Springs Elementary participated in 4-H Soil Solutions in the Fall. Madison County 4-H provided educational supplies to teachers, so students could have hands-on learning experiences in their classrooms and school gardens, while we conducted lessons via Zoom. Students learned about soils, plant growth, and pollinators as they planted and harvested cool-season gardens at their schools.
Results: Teachers, serving as 4-H volunteers, administered pre- and post-tests on knowledge and experience evaluations. On average, post-test scores were 70% better than pre-test scores. Test results indicate an increase in knowledge of soil properties, pollination, and plant growth. Many children had never grown their own food before, therefore learning a valuable life skill that they can use now and in the future.
In response to the question, How have soils been important in your life, students wrote (direct quotes, with spelling corrected):
- I plant and eat the veggies / Because that’s how you plant food
- It makes food for us / They give us food / They provide food
- Gardening / To grow food, plants, flowers
- They’ve helped me make money
- Soils have been good to me by letting me put my toys in the mud