Millard County Extension has done a tremendous job of supporting kids garden programs. Learn more about their efforts in this guest post from Eva Timothy, USU Professional Practice Extension Assistant Professor.
In 2020 the Millard County Extension office obtained a Specialty Crop Block grant through the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. The purpose of this grant was to teach youth ages 8 to 11 how to plan, plant, grow, glean, cook with, and preserve garden fresh foods and herbs. Through collaboration with the Fillmore Elementary School and the Millard County School District, USU Extension of Millard County was able to take a dilapidated garden area and convert it into an outdoor learning space. This area is not only used by youth in the garden program but also by staff and their classes.
Additionally, in the summer of 2023, another educational community gardening effort was put into place in the western region of Millard County. Here the Create Better Health Ambassador partnered with the Delta North Elementary staff, students, and families to care for the school garden. The Ambassador also worked with the local Future Farmers of America teacher, local USU Extension Agriculture and Family Consumer Science faculty, and local farmers to provide educational lessons and experiences to youth and their caregivers. The 4-H Fillmore Elementary (FE) Garden Club and the Ambassador gardening programs served to provide an additional source of food to residents in an area that is classified as a food desert.
As of September 2023, Millard County Extension has offered 50 classes to youth, adults, or a combination of both. From April to August, youth gathered weekly to learn about agriculture, food preparation, and food preservation practices. The participants were taught using lessons from Utah Agriculture in the Classroom, KidsGardening, Discover 4-H, and Create Better Health’s Create Healthy Gardens. Surveys conducted among youth for the 4-H FE Garden Club showed:
85% Want to grow a garden as a result of participation
100% Want to save food from a garden for later use as a result of participation
85% Understand that they can save foods from a garden for later use
66% Know that eating foods saved from their garden is healthy for their body
85% can identify 3 locations in their community where they could get fruits, vegetables, and herbs
From 2021-2023, these educational community gardens distributed 918.9 pounds of food to youth and families participating in school community gardening and individuals utilizing the local food banks of Millard County.
These local garden efforts are fortunate to have been supported by local businesses as well. Sungro of Fillmore, UT has been a great supporter by donating 4 pallets of soil for grow boxes. Mountain View Mushroom of Fillmore, UT also donated compost to amend the soil of the Fillmore Elementary garden. The local Health Department has awarded stipends to aid in the implementation of gardening. We have had a wealth of local community support that has ensured the offering of quality educational programming that has afforded our community additional food sources.
Images left to right: the garden beds at Fillmore Elementary School, Delta students pose with their produce, the garden beds at Delta North Elementary School.
Want to learn more about getting started with school gardens in Utah? Visit https://www.utfarmtofork.org/schoolgardenresources for guides on planning, fundraising, growing, and food safety.