Happy Camper Daycare students become gardeners


Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

Happy Camper Daycare, 518 E. Indianola Ave., was awarded the Neighborhood Success Grant from the Raymond John Wean Foundation for 2017, in partnership with Metro Assembly, Heart Reach, Happy Campers and the Ohio State University Extension in Canfield.

The goal of the grant is to educate the children about plants – what kind, what they are used for, nutrition gained from eating them, how plants grow, how they are planted and cared for and the vocabulary that goes with gardening.

The children were involved in every stage of the gardening process. They helped drill screws into the boards to assemble the raised beds, do the stapling to put landscape material in the beds and shovel dirt to fill the beds. Then they planted the plants, which they water every day.

The plants are starting to give fruit, and the children get to see what the fruits and vegetables look and taste like.

The garden has brought success to the community in various ways.

The garden started as a section of empty land that was left from the Dairy Queen that formerly occupied the space. It was filled with weeds, rocks and trash and was a neighborhood eyesore. The community helped clean it up in last year’s cleanup of the South Avenue corridor.

Tracy Jordan, owner of Happy Campers, had been trying for two years to acquire the property to plant a garden. Metro Assembly wanted to see a garden planted to help beautify the neighborhood.

The Heart Reach kids were signing up to help in the Youth Greening Project of Adopt a Block. When they all collaborated, the project began. The Wean Foundation provided the funding needed to begin the process.

Metro Assembly and the community provided the volunteers to do the hard work. The extension provided Joe Polaski, who taught each week about nutrition.

Parents are getting involved, as Mercy Health has volunteered to teach new recipes and how to provide better nutrition to families.

The goal is that families will begin making raised beds to grow fruits and vegetables for themselves.

Anyone traveling on South Avenue can see the garden that helps beautify the community and make it more pleasing to live in and do business.

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