Daycare teams up with high school students and local hospital to produce healthy gardenGetting your preschoolers to eat their vegetables can sometimes be as tough as getting a good night’s sleep in a house with a newborn, but Live Healthy Red Wing is determined to gets kids on board with healthier foods.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Getting your preschoolers to eat their vegetables can sometimes be as tough as getting a good night’s sleep in a house with a newborn, but Live Healthy Red Wing is determined to gets kids on board with healthier foods.
The group decided one of the most efficient ways to increase the number of nutritious foods children consume is to let them see — and take part in — the actual growing process. Where better to do that than at a local daycare?
Live Healthy Red Wing contacted Gwen Lynch at His Kids Child Care on Bush Street and the plan came together immediately.
“We were thinking about using this hill three years ago to start a garden … but we didn’t really have the funding for it so we put it on the back burner,” Lynch said, referring to a hill beside the daycare center’s playground.
And what better day to do it, said Michelle Liese of Live Healthy Red Wing, than on the day when Red Wing High School teacher Chris Sheehan and his students celebrate Earth Day.
On Friday, the hill was transformed from grassy open space to the beginnings of a healthful garden that will eventually be tended by 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds at His Kids.
About a dozen Red Wing High School students were on hand to dig holes, build a timber wall and drill together 3-by-3-foot grids that will keep the gardens organized. Even the youngsters at His Kids got their hands dirty as they dumped buckets of compost to help create the retaining wall.
“Our hope is the young people at this day care will have fun with the process as well as the product,” Live Healthy Red Wing’s Pam Horlitz said.
The product is still unknown, but University of Minnesota-Extension community nutrition educator Ruthanne Koski has joined the effort and will help select what is grown in the garden.
“We’re still figuring that out,” Koski said. “We won’t start planting for probably a couple of weeks.”
Koski will frequently visit the day care to provide fun, child-oriented lessons to the kids about various types of produce and how to make interesting snacks. She’ll also introduce tasting parties that will give children an opportunity to try fruits and vegetables they may not be familiar with.
“We hope they’ll be interested in learning about it and willing to try,” Lynch said.
While constructing the garden Friday, organizers made sure to leave room for growth in case His Kids wants to expand in the future. For now, Horlitz said, they started slow so the garden would be easy to handle for His Kids staff that may not be very knowledgeable about horticulture. Even with its current size, however, the garden should produce a high yield.
“We hope to grow enough so (the kids) can take some vegetables home,” Lynch said. “And maybe they’ll take that home to their parents and say ‘I want to have some broccoli or a carrot’ or something.”