Over the years at CHEWS, we’ve worked on many projects with youth in Conneaut. Students from Right Track, the One Step Center, and the Environmental Club from Conneaut High School have planted garlic, started a pollinator garden, and started early spring plants for the community garden.
Their young minds are always interested in learning about different plants and veggies and how to grow them. I enjoy seeing their interest and passion. They also love getting to go outside, but who doesn’t?
It’s important for kids to become familiar with gardening for a number of reasons.
Gardening teaches responsibility. Learning how to maintain plants from seed to harvest teaches kids to see something through from start to finish, a very important skill we use throughout our lives.
The scientific part of gardening is great for young minds. As plants are growing, it will lead them to use the scientific process by forming a hypothesis about the next steps and figuring out how much water and sunlight is necessary for plant growth. It’s definitely a process I use throughout the planting season as gardening feels like a constant science experiment!
Did you know that working in the dirt boosts your immune system? Early exposure to microbes and the beneficial bacteria that is found in soil helps your body fight off infections more easily. There is also some evidence that working in the soil can help prevent autoimmune diseases and certain allergies.
One of the biggest takeaways is that gardening encourages healthy eating. If a child sees how a plant grows and becomes familiar with it while they’re maintaining it, they’ll be more inclined to eat what they’re growing. I’ve seen it a few times with our Right Track students when we plant garlic together.
Gardening encourages a positive mental attitude — no matter what age, really. Being in nature has a positive affect on your mental health. But, for kids, if something like failing at gardening happens, it’ll teach them how to cope with problems all throughout their lives and how to deal with stress and negative outcomes.
Working in the garden eases symptoms of depression. Gardening has many opportunities to practice mindfulness and being present without judgement. It requires some mild exercise in activities like weeding and raking which is beneficial for symptoms of anxiety and depression. Finally, working in the soil releases “happy hormones”, like serotonin and dopamine and decreases cortisol, a hormone related to stress. Gardening gets rid of excess stressful energy and allows us to relax and let go leading to feeling renewed inside and sleeping better at night.
Encourage your kiddos to volunteer with CHEWS next spring, gardening is super fun and a great outlet for them to find something to do!