South Burlington, Vermont (February 6, 2006) - The National Gardening Association (NGA) announces the 7th annual Healthy Sprouts Awards, sponsored by Gardener's Supply. The award program was formed to support youth gardens that focus on nutrition education and on creating awareness about hunger in local communities. NGA will choose 25 programs to receive $200 gift certificates from Gardener's Supply and garden curriculum packages from NGA.
In many U.S. neighborhoods, statistics show that you'll find children who are overweight and others wondering where their next meal will come from; many are not getting the right balance of nutrients in their diets or enough exercise. Research conducted at Texas A&M University supports the connection between kids' food gardens and improved nutrition, showing that gardens can play a major role in solving the diet- and exercise-related challenges children face.
Christine Moore is the program coordinator of the Garden Quarter Neighborhood Resource Center in McHenry, IL, which won a Healthy Sprouts Award in 2005. Their program is living proof that gardens can reverse the woes of poor nutrition and hunger. Of their youth garden, Christine says, "This project allowed children to learn about nutrition, learn how to incorporate the food they grew into their diets, take pride in growing, feed their families and community, make an impact on their community, take pride in their surroundings, be recognized for their hard work in the paper, and draw positive attention from the larger community. Overall, the children accomplished all of the things they set out to do with the garden, and gained much more than we had anticipated in terms of self-esteem and community support. They were truly amazed by the volume of food we were able to produce for the community as well. This was a wonderful project!"
NGA president Mike Metallo points out that Christine's experience is borne out by scientific research. "There are many published studies indicating that gardens are a boon to children's overall health and wellness. Kids who participate in gardening programs connect to the environment and to their communities; develop social skills such as cooperation and leadership; achieve higher test scores; and have improved attention, focus, and self-esteem. Plus, they like to eat the nutritious vegetables and fruits they grow!"
To be eligible for the Healthy Sprouts Awards, a school or organization must plan to garden in 2007 with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18. To be selected, applicants must demonstrate how their garden program will enhance participants' nutrition knowledge and attitudes and their awareness of hunger issues in the United States. Applications are available on the Kidsgardening.com Web site.
About the Sponsors
Gardener's Supply was founded in 1983 by a handful of enthusiastic Vermont gardeners. Today, they serve millions of gardeners nationwide, offering products from seedstarting supplies to garden furniture. To learn more about Gardener's Supply is improving the world through gardening, visit www.gardeners.com.
The National Gardening Association (NGA), founded in 1972, is a national nonprofit leader in garden-based education. Its mission is to promote gardening as a means to renew and sustain the essential connection among people, plants, and the environment. To fulfill this mission NGA offers publications and programs focused on five core areas: youth education, health and wellness, environmental stewardship, community development, and home gardening. For more information, visit www.garden.org.