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I Didn’t Choose the Gardening Life, The Gardening Life Chose Me

Earth Day in the Garden of Eatin’

It was a beautiful day in the Ramella Park Garden of Eatin’ in East Williamson to celebrate Earth Day 2019! The Williamson Farmers Market and Williamson Health and Wellness Center invited children to spend the day in the garden learning about recycling, gardening, and Earth Day.

This Earth Day program started in 2018 as part of the worldwide movement to raise awareness about preserving our natural resources and taking care of our planet. The Williamson Farmers Market and Williamson Health and Wellness Center staff felt the lessons and ideas taught through Earth Day were valuable and needed to be highlighted with area youth.

“We promote the values of keeping our environment clean and raise awareness about environmental issues, but I think for us we are trying to teach our kids how to take care of their planet through recycling and gardening,” said Maria Arnot, Director of Community Agriculture for Williamson Health and Wellness Center.

“Who uses toilet paper?”

At the kids’ activities table, they were ready to make a bird feeder from recycled toilet paper rolls.

"Who uses toilet paper?” asked Kristen Deboard, Marketing and Nutrition Manager for Williamson Health and Wellness.

They all giggled while one enthusiastic student yelled, “Everyone, I hope!!!”

Kristen was teaching the kids how to use everyday “trash” to make something useful for birds, instead of just tossing it away in the garbage. They learned about recycling while having fun in the sun!

Before they began their activities, Kristen took the kids through the community garden to show them what plants were growing and explained some of the gardening process. Several community gardeners joined the program to show the kids some hands-on farming.

Where does your food come from?

Local farmer Lonnie Bowen came to the garden to be part of the program because he feels kids need to understand where their food comes from and how to take care of the land.

Lonnie said, “Kids need to start understanding gardening at an early age. A lot of kids don’t realize where their food comes from. Once they see you put the plant in the ground, watch it grow, then get to pick it - that’s rewarding to them. My grandkids come work in my garden, they get to pick it, and eat it. That’s a great thing.”

According to Maria, she is starting to see a shift in the mindset of the younger generation about gardening. She credits this change to programs such as Future Farmers of America in local schools and local events.

"Tug Valley High School is an example of a successful agriculture program. Craig Hart, the agriculture teacher there and RJ Flynn seem to be getting students excited about gardening. Also, a lot of the events we host through Williamson Health and Wellness Center and Williamson Farmers Market are geared towards kids and are well-attended. Our goal is to teach the kids about keeping the Earth clean, sustainability, and raise awareness about gardening,” said Maria.

Summertime in the Garden

Gardening camps, Jr. Chef Cooking Classes and other events are being planned through Williamson Health and Wellness Center and the Williamson Farmers Market throughout the summer. Be sure to follow their Facebook pages, so you don’t miss out!

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