Summerton daycare expands gardening program
by Sharon Hall | June 30, 2017 3:06 am
Last Updated: June 27, 2017 at 10:09 pm
Emanuel Childcare Center in Summerton is encouraging positive attitudes toward healthy food. The center is focusing on a hands-on project throughout the summer to familiarize the children with aspects of gardening science.
The childcare center is Summerton’s only such facility and has been in operation for three years. Director Vivian Morrow wanted to expand their gardening program and start a summer session.
The center built a major garden for the students earlier this year. Miniature planters were built in a reserved area in the playground so that students were able to plant in planters instead tilling the ground.
Morrow said she wanted to expand in order to use the program as a teaching tool for the youngsters. She arranged for Cag Brunson, owner of Oak Three Farms, to bring produce and seeds from his farm for the students to learn about and plant. Brunson, the owner of the local farm in Summerton, brought actual plants so the students could learn about the roots as well as plant them from seedlings.
He spent the day teaching the students how to plant, maintain and harvest the fresh produce. Morrow said that the children were excited to learn with a hands-on approach. The center bought vegetables to plant for the garden, such as tomatoes, squash and herbs.
“At the end of a harvest, the children are able to take a sample into their classrooms and learn the biology of the fruit or vegetable and actually sample their produce,” said Morrow. “Thus, they experienced planting, growing and eating their own fresh produce harvested from the center’s garden.”
Before going outside to experience hands-on gardening, The Tigers class and the Busy Bees class, ages 2.5 to 4 years old, experienced stories about planting and farming. The students first learned about gardening from projects such as planting seedlings in cups that they could take home.
“The center has a theme for each week and month of the entire year,” said Morrow. “Throughout the summer, their summer-long theme for their garden is ‘In the garden all summer long.’ We want to tend this garden each day and produce the vegetables so students can taste what they have grown. We would like for our children to take their own produce home to their families and know that they did the work.”
Morrow said that each student had a chance to dig in the dirt, plant in the boxes and have hands-on experience. She said they will be watering the garden regularly and taking little snippets from the gardens which will be incorporated into their lunches. This will enable the students to actually taste the herbs and vegetables they grew.
“We are a farming community, living in a rural area with a lot of farmlands,” said Morrow. “There is always a tractor going by, we have corn and other produce growing around us, so we talk and educate the children about farming to afford them the experience of learning about their community.”