My mother grew up on a farm in Kentucky. Some of my fondest memories were when she told me stories of how she watched the calves, pigs, and lambs born in the barn, or when she headed out to the hen house on frigid KY winter mornings to gather eggs by confidently reaching right under the hens sitting on their nests! I was especially held capture when she told me the stories of when she worked in the garden. She told me how she had plunged her hands deep in the soil to plant what she evidentially harvested: vegetables that ended up deliciously fried on their dinner table every night. I truly believe there is something special about a garden….
A plethora of research points to the correlation of children staying out of trouble and the opportunity of planting, taking care of, and harvesting a garden. My favorite research comes from the University of Wisconsin (you would think it would be from a southern state, wouldn’t you?). The scope of the research is vast, and at times, I may be comparing apples to oranges, but the end results are interesting. The population in the study were young people who had been “in trouble” and were serving some sort of detention in a facility where some were given a chance to work on a farm, taking care of animals and planting/harvesting gardens. The end results were clear: those who worked on farms/gardens (and all it entailed) turned their lives around. Those who did not work on the farms/gardens (and all it entailed while in detention) had a high percentage of returning to their old ways.
The study (Gillian & Hill, n.d.) also found that being an only child or coming from a broken home were two variables that actually worked against the young person. However, working alongside other people on the farm or in a garden proved to help children stay on the right track.
So, what does this have to do with Greater Things after school program? I want us to get our hands dirty and plant a garden right outside our building at Old Fort Baptist. We need to partner with someone who has had success with planting a garden. Research posits that if we start with bucket gardening, we may have better success at first. So, we are going to go for it! Please pray about how you can be involved with our garden!
I would like to remind those of us who are reading this: we are going to love these aftercare kids to Jesus, instill in them a strong work ethic in education and in life, and, who knows… maybe eat some of the best homegrown tomatoes we ever tasted—right from our own garden!
(Next article will be on food insecurity and the correlation between eating at home and eating out and what that has to do with Greater Things)