This year, KidsGardening entered into an exciting new initiative with the National Head Start Association and The Scotts Miracle–Gro Foundation to grow healthy kids through early childhood education gardens – The Gro More Garden Grant program. Designed to bring the life-enhancing benefits of youth garden programs to at-risk youth across the country, the grants will support the creation of edible gardens in Head Start Centers to teach kids and their families about the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables while also helping increase their access to fresh, local produce. What a great addition to a program that is already making incredible contributions to the education of our youngest learners and their families (check out these amazing impacts of the Head Start program).
Although the grant funding is limited to Head Start organizations, the partners are working together to create resources that can support all early childhood educators working to implement garden-based programs in their classrooms. Some of the supporting materials include:
- Quarterly Webinars. We are hosting quarterly webinars focused on creating sustainable, early childhood garden programs. Our most recent webinar on February 13th was on Creating Edible Garden Programs to Support Nutrition Education. Click here to view past webinars or sign up for future events. Our next webinar will be on May 15th on The Therapeutic Value of Gardening for Children.
- Online Resource Toolbox. We have compiled links to some of our favorite early childhood education resources on a special landing page to help ease your search for additional support. Check out our new Early Childhood Educator Resources Page.
- Gro More Good Learning Activities. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center have partnered to create a wonderful new curriculum just for early childhood educators with activities for Tiny Gardeners (infants and toddlers) to Garden Guides (Grades 1 to 3). This comprehensive (72 learning activities -Wow!), free resource is available at: https://scottsmiraclegro.com/responsibility/foundation/activities/.
From my perspective, when it comes to planting the seed of gardening, the earlier the better. As a parent and an educator, I have always been amazed (and honestly, slightly overwhelmed from a parent perspective) at the growth and development that takes place in the first 5 years of life and the importance of providing nurturing environments, that is why I am so thrilled to be part of an effort to meaningfully help support all of the educators and parents dedicated to getting our youngest learners out into the garden.
Beyond reaching our youngest gardeners, The Gro More Garden Grant Program is part of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company’s Gro More Good initiative that is committed to helping connect 10 million children (yep, that is 10 million) to the benefits of gardens and greenspaces by 2023. With nonprofit partners Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, KidsGardening, Major League Baseball, National Farm to School Network, National Head Start Association, National Recreation and Park Association, and No Kid Hungry, the potential to grow a greener, healthier generation who loves to garden has never looked brighter.