BIG FALLS – According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, they described eating vegetables as a crucial part of weight management. That’s why the Cascade City-County health department has ensured that children who may not have direct access to fresh produce do.
This is called the summer garden school. There are about 2,000 to 4,000 pounds of food here in this garden and it’s all the children in the area who grow this product every year.
These children come from the Cameron Center, the Salvation Army, the Boys and Girls Club or the Great Falls Rescue Mission. This garden is a place where they come to connect with food by learning to grow fresh fruits and vegetables on their own.
Abigail Lichliter, a public health nurse in the Cascade City-County health department, said the goal of the program is for these children to be happy to eat what they have been feeding all summer, allowing them to eat healthy.
“If you’ve been to schools they do a great job of getting access to healthy food, but if the kids don’t want it they don’t always have to eat it so I think that’s the way to go. next step where can you make them want to eat veg, âLitchliter said. âI think the hardest part is how to translate this around the house. So we hope that when the children grow the vegetables in the garden and come into the grocery store with their parents, they also want to buy these vegetables for their family.”
The Cascade City-County Health Department said any food these children grow is donated to their families in this way, it gives them immediate access to fresh food. Another way these children have learned to bring food from the garden to the table in their homes is by using solar ovens and grills in the garden.
Lichliter suggested starting a home garden with your family. It’s a great activity overall. It’s a bonding experience, and parents apply the same concept as this program.
This garden has become more popular with agencies like the Boys and Girls Club or the Great Falls Rescue Mission who wish to spend more time here. Three years ago, around 30 children would go out in the garden, now around 175 children spend time in this garden every week.
âA girl from the Boys and Girls Club told me that. Charlie is here, he’s super excited,â Lichliter said. “He gets to bring this giant zucchini and he’s like hey Sonya, the executive director, look at this zucchini that we grew, and he gives it to the kitchen and then when she’s in the kitchen she cuts it into pieces, she prepare it, blow it up. “
Lichliter explained, then when the zucchini meal is ready, people will ask the kid “hey, do you want zucchini?” And if they said no, they’ll remind them that it’s the zucchini they brought. Now the kid gets mad, tells his friends, and before people know it, everyone will eat zucchini.
Organizers said anyone can go out into the garden to enjoy it. They are always looking for volunteers to help them. If families want to plant something, they don’t have a program for them yet, but they are open to it. If people want, they can call the garden.
There will be an event this weekend at the Westside Orchard Garden open to the public. For more information, click here.