The benefits of gardening, beyond the produce
Harvesting Hope for Others Farm Camp for kids is in full swing and the gardens are growing wonderfully. Each Wednesday night, approximately 25 kids join our team of volunteers to attend to their gardens, work with the animals and have fun in the outdoors. Harvesting of the gardens will begin in mid-July and the produce raised will be given to families in the Fargo/Moorhead area experiencing hardship. However, those families are not the only ones benefiting from the gardens that are growing … so are the campers!
Harvest Hope Farm strives to harvest hope in others who may be struggling emotionally, physically, spiritually or financially by providing a hands-on-farm experience and education regarding environmental stewardship and sustainable food resources. We believe every child who attends our farm camp is benefitting in ways beyond measure. We believe each child will take with them several skills and values that will benefit in years to come.
Research shows that on average, tweens and teens spend 6-9 hours per day on devices. As a counselor and principal, that statistic speaks very loudly to my husband and me. That was one of the big reasons we were driven to start the Harvesting Hope for Others Farm Camp. Research also shows that children who are encouraged to be in the outdoors experience a greater sense of self-awareness, as well as self-discipline. Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods” and co-founder of the Children and Nature Network states, “It’s about planting the plant and watching it grow, but it’s also about other things. It’s about turning over the rocks. It’s about getting your hands muddy and your feet wet. It’s about using more of your senses. It’s about being in the world”.
That is exactly what we want to do: have children experience the world around them — the world God has blessed us with, the world through nature. Each week during farm camp it is fun to see the discoveries that are made by the campers. Whether it be the bugs that are crawling in the dirt to make it a healthy home for the produce or the first zucchini growing in the garden. It may be the sheer joy of seeing the pigs squirming around to make a mud hole or the excitement of finding eggs in the chicken coop. For some, it’s the pleasure — or displeasure — of getting their hands deep into the dirt. By Experiencing the world around them, although they may not realize it, the children who attend farm camp are doing just that and learning a whole lot while they do it!
Here are just a few benefits of gardening and playing in nature:
1) Gardening gets kids dirty! Yes, let them get dirty. While I often joke that by the time we got to child number seven, she was eating dirt because we didn’t have enough time to pay attention to her, it bears some truth. Dirt is full of microbes that help build the immune system. That is probably why I don’t panic if my kids don’t always wash their hands after coming in from outside.
2) Gardening develops fine motor skills. From picking weeds to planting tiny seeds, this can go a long way to develop the fine motor skills and hand eye coordination of younger children.
3) Gardening develops organization skills. As our campers come to the first week of camp, they plan out their garden and make sure it all fits. They also help in planning out the larger in-ground gardens.
4) Gardening encourages healthy eating. One rule we have at farm camp, as the produce starts to grow, we sample so that every child tries everything we grow. It’s amazing what some children, and adults, discover that they like!
5) Gardening teaches perseverance, responsibility, and confidence while also increasing attention span and focus. At Harvest Hope Farm, gardening also teaches the children how to pay it forward to families in need within our community.
The list could go on and on! These are just a few of the amazing benefits we have been able to see in just our first five weeks of Farm Camp 2019. We thank all the amazing people and businesses who support Harvesting Hope for Others Farm Camp. A special thanks to Vegtrug.com for making a garden box that works great for children in wheelchairs! CLICK HERE for a list of garden box sponsors and learn how you can support our Farm Camp expansion for 2020! You are also invited to join us on Sunday September 8 for our 2nd Annual Harvest Hope Farm Fundraiser! It will be an afternoon on the farm for the entire family. Details can be found at www.harvesthopefarm.org.
Happy growing everyone!