The state-wide closing of schools last March due to COVID-19 presented us with a challenge: How could we involve students in school garden planting when we were not able to work together in person?
We also wanted to support students and families while under the stay-at-home order, so we decided that if the students couldn’t come to school to garden, we would bring the gardens to them!
Thanks in part to a grant from Heart of West Michigan United Way, H.O.P.E. Gardens provided 214 Gardens of H.O.P.E. to families of our Team 21 students in Wyoming Public and Godwin Heights school districts over the summer. We have been offering our garden education program to these students for the last several years.
Using small, portable deck boxes, we created two options for families to choose from: a salsa garden (tomatoes, jalapenos, mild pepper, and cilantro) or a snack garden (cucumber, peas, and beans).
The obvious benefit of home gardening is to reduce food costs as well as connect children and families to their food. However, there are additional benefits to diversifying the quality
of food that people have access to and the long-term development of skills that can be leveraged for sharing and selling produce to neighbors.
Producing one’s own food leads to feelings of joy and fulfillment, something desperately in short supply especially during COVID-19.
We believe that a small seed in the hand of a child and knowledge about what helps food grow will influence families and communities to embrace solutions that can help bring an end to food insecurity.