I haven’t always been a farm kid.
There was a time when my dad was serving in the military and we resided in “town.” It wasn’t until my dad retired from the U.S. Army we became residents of a rural farm community in Missouri. Everything about farm life was new. Friends and neighbors were always helping my sister and I discover something new about country living.
This past month, I volunteered for a morning with Apple Seeds, a non-profit group in Fayetteville, Ark. Apple Seeds develops and implements programs that educate and excite children about fruits and vegetables. Fifty excited second graders arrived on buses from a local elementary school along with parents and teachers. These children were eager to be on their first field trip. The buses unloaded and the faces of these students lit up. The enthusiasm built as they approached the 2-acre farm. They listened intently as the staff shared the importance of vegetables in a person’s daily diet. Produce was weighed and students journaled about their experience in the garden.
The kids broke into small groups and were delighted to “harvest” vegetables from different parts of the garden – spinach, tomatoes and peppers. The fresh veggies were washed. Each table of children prepared their vegetables and shared their harvest with the other groups. It was fascinating to watch their joy as they cut and chopped vegetables to prepare their personal snacks from the harvest in the garden. Many of these children had never been in a vegetable garden or picked vegetables from rows or vines. As a gardener and veggie lover, I was overjoyed with sharing in the education of these little people. I too, had been a child who’d never picked vegetables from a garden and know all-too-well the importance of having someone to learn from.
Apple Seeds is a growing group in Fayetteville and is making plans to expand the reach of the organization in the community. Apple Seeds partners with schools and community organizations to establish activities that serve students and their families. These include gardening clubs, school garden education, student-run farmers markets, and farm-to-table programs. These hands-on, educational programs empower students with skills to grow their own food, inspiring them to make healthy food choices that positively impact their lives. I was excited to learn more about this group and loved seeing how it impacts over 3500 students in our community each year. For more information about Apple Seeds, check out appleseedsnwa.org.
One of the other hats I get to wear as a mother of two girls is Girl Scout Troop Leader. This year, I have the privilege of co-leading a group of 15 second and fourth grade girls through a leadership badge that explores breaking down stereotypes for the roles of young women. Our first field trip as a troop this fall was visiting a local pumpkin farm, run by one of our neighbors – also a busy mother with three children.
It was great watching the children listen to her teach them how insects, bats and the weather affect the pumpkin crop each year. The lesson ended with each Girl Scout picking their own pumpkins right off the vines in her patch. They looked like they were in heaven.
I enjoy sharing stories about young people in the country. I am a lifelong learner. As a person in agriculture, I love education and I love teaching. One of my greatest joys is finding someone in my life to learn from and someone to teach. I hope you get a chance to pass the love of agriculture onto someone else, neighbor.
I haven’t always been a farm kid.