It is with great pleasure that I share the following news with you! Seeds of Grace is beginning a new program, outlined below, and we would like to ask if you would be interested in helping with it! Please read on!
This year, we would like to ask your help as we build a program that we, our volunteers and partners in the community just like you, called Growing Garden Gnomes. This will be a summer camp operated out of our facility, Lichen Hollow (a gift we received about this time last year). This facility affords Seeds of Grace the opportunity to grow in our capacity increasing our operations in our community, building gardens, working in schools and providing fresh produce to food banks and soup kitchens. But it also allows us to offer classes and rent out the space to help support our other ongoing programs there.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are not readily available for Kitsap County's low-income population who typically reside in Food Deserts. This impacts the physical state, academic achievement, and personal social behavior of families and their children.
There are several effects of food deserts: higher obesity rates and increased ratios of lower nutrition per pound of food purchased, lower scores on standardized testing in schools have also been directly associated with students who reside in higher poverty areas. We have a plan which we believe will improve this dilemma.
Data from the CDC offers a direct correlation of student’s grades to their intake of fresh produce. A study by the University of Washington states that “17% of children in the US are currently obese”. It further asserts that equal attribution to genetic, behavioral and environmental factors is evident.
Over the last 5 years, Seeds of Grace has seen several causal events and issues through our work in our community that we can effect with the Growing Garden Gnomes Camp:
- Putting gardens in schools does not guarantee they will be used as learning resources
- Students eat food from gardens where they may not eat the same food from stores
- Many families do not have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables
- When given good choices, students will make good choices
This inspired us to act on our plan to build an engaging, multi-faceted, camp-style program. It directly addresses the problems of food deserts, nutrition and student mentoring using STEM principals through hands-on, and tactile activities.
Kids learn, according to one report, by “peer tutoring techniques are especially appropriate and useful” and is endorsed by another: “Preliminary results reported from tutoring programs have indicated strongly that when a child helps teach another child, both children may profit in terms of better academic achievement and improved personal-social behavior".
Your gift will go towards building the foundation of the camp as we initially offer it this year. The Growing Garden Gnomes camp will introduce participants to the concept of growing food sustainably through mentoring, hands-on activities, while utilizing STEM principals. Presented from the perspective of biodiversity and symbiotic relations as indigenous cultures set the example it is 5 days with 6 hours of activities and lunch each day at Lichen Hollow. Adult facilitators and curriculum specialists will guide campers in elements designed for interaction and cooperative learning as they are divided into two groups: Mentors (aged 12 – 18) and Garden Gnomes (aged 6 – 11) in a ratio of approximately 1:3 respectively.
Gardening methods: Seeds, starts, growing methods, composting, vermiculture, aguaponics, permaculture
Foraging and Gleaning: Edible species identification, mycology, woods crafting, when to harvest, symbiosis
Sustainability: Water conservation and harvesting, composting, carbon capture, alternative energy, recycling
Nutrition: Macronutrients and micronutrients, plant biology, healthy options, preparation and preservation, consequences of unhealthy choices
Personal Wellness: Body, mind and spirit; yoga, creative activities (art. textiles, etc.), community service, herbs for health; journaling; non-edibles, meditation
Each camper will be given tools and materials necessary for each activity and a take-home craft representative of each day’s theme. They’ll receive a journal for their daily notes and thoughts. Plans and instructions for full-sized home projects, for example an easily built, compact aguaponic system, will be included. They'll be offered recipes from the day’s snacks and lunch, some will be prepared themselves.
Author and Director of Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Program, Valerie Segrest asks, “How can we live like our teachers, the plants and foods around us? How can we learn to grow and thrive in diversity and be big medicine in the world?”
1) The Campers, both the Garden Gnomes and their Mentors will gain a clearer understanding of the impact they can make in the world, not to mention in their own homes with regard to growing food organically, and sustainably.
2) They will be able to articulate their understanding of stewardship from an indigenous people’s perspective.
3) They will have will have created tangible reminders, including their journal, miniature aguaponics systems, aprons, personal planting boxes, miniature vermiculture/ mycology systems, and other projects all of which the Campers will bring home.
4) Further, Mentors will have a greater understanding of their impact on those around them, specifically the example they set for campers, the younger ones in our community and their family as well as the potential they have as leaders for change.
We will measure the outcomes of our program initially by providing the campers and their parents with a simple survey to measure their basic understanding of concepts before and after their experience, as well as ideological perceptions and behavioral changes (food choices, etc.). We believe that parents will see these changes in their children with regard to the awareness they bring home about sustainability and good food. There will be separate surveys for the separate participants; Garden Gnomes, Mentors and parents. We will include the results of these surveys in the reporting phase of the grant, and maintain these records for comparison for repeat future campers and their parents. We will provide a video of camp highlights, which will document the activities, meals, and interactions occurring during the camp. Campers will have an opportunity to offer their own testimony on film.
We believe that the results of all surveys, as well as the individual testimonies, will reflect an increase in understanding of the concepts presented, by all three groups of participants.
I would love to ask for your support so that we can get this camp off the ground successfully, and begin changing lives of the youth in our community. I would also invite you to connect with me about your children or grandchildren (nieces, nephews and neighbors) attending the camp! Or perhaps you have time to volunteer! I welcome your gift in whatever form it takes. I thank you for the support you have all offered Seeds of grace in the past; your ongoing blessings, prayers and partnership has been instrumental in our continued growth.
We are truly grateful for the investment of people just like you in our community by planting the seeds that help us to feed God’s Sheep.