Sharing a Love for Gardening
Southwestern students help the local Boys & Girls Club revive its gardening program
The Boys & Girls Club of Georgetown used to have a garden, but it got covered up when the growing program needed outdoor storage space.
This year both the garden and a garden club for the children have been revived thanks to help from Southwestern University students.
Planning for the new garden began last summer when 2011 graduate Dianna Urrego was hired to work at the Boys & Girls Club. Urrego laid the groundwork for the program and then turned it over to Sarah Puffer, a sophomore environmental studies and international studies major who has been active in Southwestern’s community garden. Puffer wrote a proposal for a SEED grant from Southwestern and received $3,000 to build the new garden as well as a composter.
Even before the new garden was ready for planting, Puffer and other Southwestern students were going to the Boys & Girls Club every Friday to run a garden club program. In addition to teaching students about gardening, Puffer said a key focus of the program is teaching students about the importance of good nutrition.
“This current generation of children is not getting much education about food and nutrition,” Puffer said. “To me having a garden aligns with the mission of the Boys & Girls Club because by providing fresh produce and nutrition education, the club is taking one step further to help those who need them the most reach their full potential.”
Puffer has led a variety of activities to teach the children about healthier options than junk food as well as to inspire them to lead a more active and healthier lifestyle. One day, for example, they did a “Chutes and Ladders” game with celery, peanut butter and carrots. One of their most recent projects was to go to H-E-B and choose different items to make a meal which included two vegetables for under $9. “I want to raise awareness in them about food, food preparation and the benefits of local produce,” Puffer said.
Puffer also has brought the students to Southwestern’s own garden three times to learn about the different plants and how to harvest. In late February, the students planted Swiss chard, spinach, carrots, onions, dill, lettuce, cilantro and broccoli in their own garden.
“Our kids love the Garden Club,” said Joshua Carrasco, program director at the Boys & Girls Club. “Sarah is doing a wonderful job with them.”
Southwestern was able to get funding for two students to continue working with students in the garden in the summer of 2012. Eric Johnson and Elizabeth Funk helped students pick some of the produce that was planted in the spring and plant new crops such as cucumber and watermelon.
- Isaac Bernal and Ellen Davis