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East Boston, MA: Green City Growers, an urban farming company in Somerville, installed three raised vegetable garden beds on site at YMCA East Boston, taking the Teaching Kitchen programming outdoors. Ten local youth, ages 6-10, meet every other week with experienced urban farmer Leilani Mroczkowski, from Green City Growers, to get their hands dirty and learn everything they need to know to grow their own food in an urban setting.
“An urban garden like ours gives children an opportunity to connect with the land in a new way” said Meg Tallon, Kitchen Manager at the YMCA East Boston Teaching Kitchen and Urban Garden. “In the process they learn to grow their own produce. It’s an incredible hands on way to learn.” Farmer Leilani is impressed by how quickly the garden has improved the kids’ confidence to ask questions and take risks in answering for themselves. Each participant has an observation journal to write something they’ve learned from each session, which incorporates science, math, and language skills.
The YMCA is committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, all cornerstones of the garden education program. This programming contributes to aspects of traditional academics as well as promoting personal and social development, nurturing community spirit, and contributing to participants’ overall confidence in their academic competence and ability.
About Green City Growers: Green City Growers transforms unused space into thriving urban farms, providing clients with immediate access to nutritious food, while revitalizing city landscapes and inspiring self-sufficiency. Green City Growers provides raised vegetable bed installation, maintenance and education services to corporate offices, schools, restaurants, grocers and residential clients. Green City Growers was founded by Jessie Banhazl in 2008.
About YMCA East Boston Teaching Kitchen: The Teaching Kitchen on Ashely St. gives local Boston residents access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Hands on cooking classes bring people together to cook and learn in a nonjudgmental environment. Our urban garden program gives children an opportunity to connect with the land in a new way and in the process they learn to grow their own produce, these skills will stay with them for a lifetime.