EnrichLA is Building a Brighter Future, One Edible Garden at a Timeby Marianela Pereyra | 1 year ago
I’m a firm believer that kids will eat what they grow!
What better way to empower children to make better food choices than by connecting them to the source of where real food is made, THE GARDEN.
Tomas O’Grady, Enrich LA’s co-founder, was inspired to create the non-profit five years ago, where the dream began with one edible garden. Today EnrichLA has built 115 gardens in schools all over L.A., and is considered to be the largest garden non-profit in the nation. Recognizing that a school garden is only as good as what’s growing in it, and only useful to a school if the students are actually using it, EnrichLA has created ‘The Garden Ranger Program.’ Every school has a trained garden ranger consistently on site to attend to the garden as well as provide place-based learning opportunities for the students, offering fun lesson plans with topics such as nutrition, healthy living, gardening, and environmental stewardship.
I feel privileged to call myself a ‘Garden Ranger.’
When a child gets to experience the joy of growing, harvesting, preparing, and eating simple whole foods, they start to gain a new appreciation for real food and are empowered to make better food choices. These gardens act as catalysts to show students just how versatile, delicious, and FUN healthy food can be!
The simple of act of spending time in the garden teaches children about responsibility, teamwork, cooperation, and respect. An edible garden will broaden a child’s awareness of the world and inspire them to value our habitat. STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education is taught in the garden through hands-on learning, which in effect is building a stronger understanding of those concepts for many children who respond better with reality-based teaching.
There is no doubt that nature is our most powerful teacher.
I can’t think of a greater classroom than, “the great outdoors”! A learning environment that connects kids to their food source, fuels their curiosity, soothes their anxieties, teaches them about responsibility and respect for all living things, all while helping them stay active and healthy.
With childhood obesity rates still rising, it is paramount that we connect our children to the source of where “real” food comes from. If students only have access to vending machines full of processed, sugar-ladened ‘dead food,’ they are in a system that’s ultimately failing them. If we can give children across America access to simple whole foods, we can begin to make a real change.
Much like we handle a tiny seedling; we support, empower, enrich, and spread love to all students, and eagerly watch them grow. We see their potential, and do everything we can so they can bloom bigger and brighter!