LICAN/TRI CYA CHILDREN’S PROGRAM CURES NATURE DEFICIT
Children who attend the Tri Community & Youth Agency Center in Huntington Station have been learning this summer where food comes from and how to grow it.
The Long Island Community Agriculture Network, in collaboration with TriCYA, is providing an eight-week eco-literacy and gardening program to the children that uses the Gateway Park Community Garden as a teaching classroom. Twice a week sessions, lead by a certified K-6 teacher who co-founded an edible garden at her school, provide the cure to the “nature deficit” that is of such concern to educators. The program exposes the children to healthy food choices, reveals where food comes from, and explains how soil, sun and water are at the foundation of life. Working in garden beds at Gateway a short walk from the indoor TriCYA drop-in center, the children plant, nurture and harvest pesticide free vegetables.
The tuition-free program is funded by a grant from the New York Community Trust: Horace & Amy Hagedorn Fund. Fifteen children from grades 3 to 6 participate on Mondays and Thursdays from 3 to 5 pm. In addition, the funding supports part-time jobs for three teenage interns to assist the teacher, Robin Obey, a resident of Huntington. Obey teaches kindergarten at the Park Avenue School in North Merrick.
“This pilot project, LICAN’s second children’s gardening program at Gateway Garden, is an example of the educational and economic potential of the garden,” said Frances Whittelsey, executive director of LICAN. Gateway, which is managed by LICAN under license from the Town of Huntington, has 90 beds used by adults to grow food for themselves and their families, and 24 children’s beds.
The program began in July, and will end Aug. 30.
A gardening skills program for children, lead by local resident and garden mentor Betsy Davidson, is now entering its third year. Davidson assists local children and their families in growing food, and will coordinate programs for them throughout the growing season. Both groups of children share the children’s beds.
Construction of garden beds at Gateway Garden is nearly complete. A natural play area and a social gathering area remain to be built.