FLTI graduate Amauunet Ashe has big dreams — and colorful ones, too. Her "Color Garden" opened in 2014 at Young Audiences Charter School, offers kids hands-on experience planting, nurturing, and harvesting healthy food as part of her Nutrition Adventure community project.
This colorful patch of flowers, fruits and vegetables serves as a site for children to learn about biology, teamwork, nutrition and more! Under the supervision of horticulturist Valorie Polmer, learners manipulate the soil, plant and care for the seedlings, and finally harvest their crops to serve students and families fresh green onions, carrots, broccoli, lettuce and kale!
Research shows that community gardens are immensely beneficial in creating a "ripple effect" in neighborhoods, reducing crime rates and causing people to take care of their own properties*. Sometimes called the ‘new’ greenspace, these gardens have in fact been around for hundreds of years. In the Color Garden's case, it's not just vegetable seeds that are planted in the ground: it's the seeds of a thoughtful, ecologically-aware new generation planted in kids' minds.
In addition to reducing crime rates, community gardens teach youngsters about the importance of sustainability and where food comes from, plus math skills and teamwork. Being inside green spaces like the Color Garden is proven to reduce stress and promote healthy eating habits, and they both reduce air pollution and help communities recycle compost items such as food scraps and grass clippings that would otherwise go to waste.
Amauunet is looking forward to expanding the Nutrition Adventure concept over the next few years, whether in communities or schools. "I'm so proud of the Young Audiences kids and the beautiful crops we've grown together," she says. "These days, it's important to bring kids closer to nature, and I know we're helping create community leaders too. Special thanks to Valorie Palmer for being so hands-on with this community vision and taking it to the next beautiful, nourishing and fun level."