Master Gardener Shares “Learn, Grow, Eat and Go!”

by Liz Duda

Dec. 28, 2021 (York County, SC) Cissy (CJ) Brown, a Master Gardener of York County, discussed “Learn, Grow, Eat and Go!” at Wholespire York County’s August 2021 meeting. This Junior Master Gardener program connects children with gardening and the environment. The research-based curriculum integrates family-focused gardening, nutrition, and physical activity. Through the program, kids increase their preference for vegetables, knowledge of nutrition and plant science, and physical activity with parents. Teachers also report more attentive students with higher participation.

The ten-week curriculum for 3rd-5th graders emphasizes science, math, language arts and reading, social studies, and health. The program is incorporated into the school day (and in Texas, it was linked to state educational requirements). It also can be adopted into community settings (e.g., after-school programs; scouts, and even the hospital setting). Materials are available online, and also are available in Spanish.

Cissy’s interest in “Learn, Grow, Eat and Go!” began when the master gardeners volunteered at the children’s garden in Glencairn Gardens in Rock Hill, where she learned more about childhood obesity. This year, the Master Gardeners of York County will fund two school gardens.

Collaboration Opportunities

Inspired by Ms. Brown, Wholespire York County meeting guests saw chances to collaborate. Jonathan Nazeer shared that Victory Gardens International will launch a 4-H program at the Emmett Scott Recreation Center, and convert tennis courts into a community garden and farm. He also noted that Northside Recreational Garden got funding for a community garden. Jennie Dawkins noted the YMCA of Upper Palmetto’s “Healthy Weight and Your Child” program which also uses nutrition, gardening, and physical education to help health outcomes for children and the whole family unit.

Wholespire York County August 2021 General Meeting Participants

On behalf of Wholespire York County, Dr. David Keely hopes we can make a more formal commitment to help this program along at local schools. We can leverage our relationships with the four school districts and sponsorship of the Healthy Together 5-2-1-0 program in the Rock Hill and Fort Mill school districts. Janet Wojcik noted that we previously funded supplies for community and school gardens.

Former FMSD board member Tom Audette asked if this could be used for teachers and staff at the school districts, noting that companies reward employees for enough steps. Ms. Brown described how this program helps someone to move more in a family environment; so families walk to contribute to the school goal. She notes Texas got family pull-through with exercise, related to the comprehensive “Walk Across Texas” state program, and this has the potential to become a habit.

About the Junior Master Gardener Program

The Junior Master Gardener program is the international youth gardening program of the Texas A&M University Cooperative Extension system. It was created by AgriLife Extension, part of Texas A&M AgriLife.

About the Junior Master Gardener Program

The Junior Master Gardener program is the international youth gardening program of the Texas A&M University Cooperative Extension system. It was created by AgriLife Extension, part of Texas A&M AgriLife.

About “Learn, Grow, Eat and Go!”

“Learn, Grow, Eat and Go!” grows good kids through an interdisciplinary program of academics, gardening, nutrient-dense food experiences, physical activity, and school and family engagement. It is part of the Junior Master Gardener curriculum that “engages children in novel, hands-on learning experiences that help kids develop a love of gardening and appreciation for the environment while helping them cultivate their minds.” Each week’s lessons include a featured activity and a Go Strong Challenge for participants to engage in extra physical activity during the week, “Children can get involved in exploring their world through meaningful activities that encourage leadership development, personal pride, and responsibility.  Through a linear set of academically rich, proven lessons, they will learn about plants and what they need as well as how plants provide for our needs.  They will also engage in fun and educational arts and crafts activities, see how to cook some nutritious vegetable-based recipes, and learn how to maintain a garden.”

Wholespire York County appreciates Cissy Brown sharing with us her inspirational work and program. We are pleased to welcome guest speakers to our even-month meetings who share their work. We often identify collaboration opportunities.