This October, a longtime supporter and member of MSHS has challenged us to raise up to $5,000 to support the society and its work connecting young people to gardening and food security. Your donations, which will be matched dollar for dollar up to $5,000 in this challenge grant, drive valuable MSHS programs that bring plants, seeds, tools and gardening education to thousands of budding gardeners, underserved families and community gardens throughout Minnesota.
Throughout the month we’ll be highlighting our Garden-in-a-Box program. This is a boots-on-the-ground programs that teaches gardening, makes our children healthier and more resilient, and builds community. Growing food is a skill and a passion that lasts a lifetime.
Consider, for instance, the Garden-in-a-Box program at the Hospitality House Youth Development program in Minneapolis. While students were skeptical of gardening at first, many came to love being outdoors and working in the garden, according to Heather, the gardening and cooking teacher in the program. They would look forward to picking a healthy snack, cleaning and eating it each day.
Growing Food and Compassion
New kinds of learning took place in the garden, too. Students learned about the different vegetables, the parts of plants and their care requirements. They loved cooking with the vegetables and learning new techniques, such as “massaging” kale to make it easier to digest. “The favorite garden recipe by far, however, was the kale chips,” Heather said. “The students found it hilarious that the kale needs to be massaged and loved to brag about the healthy chips they made.”
The program also built a spirit of community at the center and in the neighborhood. Students worked together to care for the plants and took responsibility for nurturing the plants through the growing season. They also grew in compassion for their neighbors. “The students agreed it was important that everyone has access to the healthy food we were growing and would pick extra veggies and herbs to give to the public,”which is of great appreciation coming from an area of lower income and healthy food is more difficult to access,” Heather said.
The Garden-in-a-Box program has been part of MSHS outreach efforts since 2008. In 2019, we distributed 545 garden boxes (a record) to more 80 organizations throughout Minnesota. More than 3,500 children and adults were connected to gardening and growing food through this program.
Garden-in-a-Box exemplifies our mission to grow cold-climate gardeners through education, encouragement and community. Will you help support this program through a donation to the MSHS challenge grant? Our Harvest Challenge continues until the end of October. Your gift will be doubled during this special fundraising event.