Normalcy When Nothing is Normal
The COVID19 pandemic has affected the lives of people across the globe. Promoting healthy behaviors is even more important now as it has been proven that the virus more seriously affects people who have underlying health conditions. Engaging youth has always been an objective for the Montclair Community Farms but, like everybody else, we have had to alter the way we approach things so that we don’t put people at increased risk.
Our grant project aims to educate youth in entrepreneurial skills by growing produce on the farm, turning it into value added products, packaging, marketing and selling it at reduced costs to people in need. We are taking baby steps to fulfill these goals, but due to unforeseen circumstances, have been forced to pivot and adjust. As a Coalition, we agreed that during these unprecedented times, it was equally important to be able to provide a safe environment for younger children to learn about gardening and enjoying what can be made from nature, thereby sparking interest in healthy behaviors at a very young age. Understandably, young children (and adults alike) are scared and confused about what is going on around them. Our “Sweet Pea” program gives them an opportunity to learn and create in a green environment out in the fresh air. Both virtual and 2 hour in person drop-off classes are provided where kids utilize items that can be found in their kitchen, garden, and in nature. These fun and engaging projects hone children’s innate skills and foster an appreciation for everyday creativity and nature in a safe environment. Topics such as veggies, seeds, insects and textiles are explored, giving children new foods to try and beautiful nature inspired craft items to take home and enjoy.
We hope soon to be able to get back to “normal” and on track with our original plans. But in the meantime, we are taking a breath to appreciate the joy on a child’s face as they discover the miracle of nature around them.
About the Grantee
The Montclair Health Department is a founding member of the Montclair Community Farms Coalition. Montclair Community Farm’s mission is to serve as a local hands-on resource that engages and educates the community through urban farming, affordable food access and healthy living. At the heart of Montclair Community Farms is its Coalition, partners, and community volunteers.