Last week I wrote about a borderline offensive ad on childhood obesity and the group that created it. I want to emphasize that the Center for Closing the Health Gap is actually a great organization. Today's Cincinnati Enquirer ran an article about the Center's Do Right! Campaign. The group got kids involved in planting a garden in a vacant spot near the YMCA. The article described Harvest Day, when the kids finally got to pick the veggies they'd planted and nurtured. They were understandably proud of their produce.
Gardening projects like this are a great idea. Kids can learn so much from growing a garden - botany, biology, meteorology. It's stealth teaching. Gardens aren't like a puppy, but there's still responsibility involved (witness the wilted, neglected flowerbeds of my childhood). Teamwork comes in handy. And if kids grow their own carrots and zucchini, they'll be more likely to eat them.
Unfortunately, these programs are hard to sustain. As energetic as they are, there are some gardening tasks that kids can't (and shouldn't) do. Finding a suitable and safe spot isn't easy, and supplies can be expensive. A good idea might be to match gardeners - maybe retirees with some extra time - with a YMCA or day-camp program. That doesn't address the money issue, though. I doubt gardens of this size would produce enough surplus to sell.