Children typically like to dig in the dirt and play with the garden hose. When introduced to gardening, they also are more likely to eat the fruits and vegetables they grow. That’s why K-State Research and Extension is introducing a new, family-friendly gardening program this spring.
The goal is to make learning about food, nutrition and healthy choices a productive and enjoyable experience for families, said Andrea Feldkamp, who developed the new educational series to help clients who qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Feldkamp serves as Kansas’ assistant coordinator for SNAP-Ed with responsibilities for matching nutrition education opportunities to needs in the state.
Feldkamp, who noted the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, advocates eating a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables to manage weight, decrease obesity, reduce the risks of some cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, and pulmonary diseases, and to promote regularity. Also, increasing physical activity, such as digging, weeding, and watering, can be helpful in preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes, she said. In fact, even a small garden can increase access to food and decrease food costs.
In considering opportunities to reach and teach families, Feldkamp has drawn from resources at the USDA, K-State, and the Denver Urban Garden’s school curriculum to create six can-do lessons for families. The first three of six lessons focus on the relationship between food, nutrition and health. The second three lessons focus on basic gardening and growing food successfully. Each educational session includes practical how-tos, a recipe related to the lesson, and a journal for families to record their progress in a garden journal. Those with little space will find that tips for container gardening provides opportunities for families to benefit from gardening. What’s more, beginning gardening requires minimal equipment, and, if participating in a community garden, equipment often is provided.
The new Family Gardening curriculum is available at the Wyandotte County Extension office or online at www.ksre.ksu.edu/humannutrition To schedule classes, or for more information on food, nutrition and health, and managing family meals successfully contact the Family Nutrition Program educators at 913-299-9000.
Nozella Brown is a Family and Consumer Sciences educator for Kansas State Research and Extension, Wyandotte County. Follow her on Twitter @WyCoSnapEd.
Farmer’s Market Salsa
½ cup corn, fresh, cooked or frozen
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup green pepper, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup picante sauce
Wash hands and cooking surfaces. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill until serving time. Drain before serving. Serve with low-fat tortilla chips or fresh vegetables.