FALLBROOK – Every Thursday morning from 9-10:30 a.m. for eight weeks in June and July, between eight and 16 third and fourth grade student members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North County traveled by bus to garden areas at the Fallbrook Wellness Center on East Mission Road to learn how to plant and grow fruits and vegetables.
Nutrition to Grow On is a collaborative program of the Fallbrook Food Pantry, Fallbrook Regional Healthcare District and the Boys and Girls Clubs of North County.
Young Milton and Jean Dooley, board members of the Fallbrook Food Pantry, helped to organize and lead the program curriculum, provided by Food Pantry Executive Director Shae Gawlak, with the valuable assistance of Fallbrook Garden Club members Rose Peralta and Maria Escala, community member Hergard Ebehard and bus driver Chuck Reeder working as the “hands on” program teachers.
Lessons on the nutritional value of including fruits and vegetables in their daily diet and a discussion of the students’ favorites provided the basis for the student plantings. They unanimously chose strawberries as their favorite fruit and agreed on tomatoes as a favorite vegetable.
Class discussions, recording their plants’ weekly growth, as well as analyzing and reporting insects or other plants in their garden plots provided the foundation of the program. Additional craft activities such as painting and adding rocks to the gardens, selecting group names for each of the four raised garden areas and decorating wooden flower replicas were also part of the program.
At the next-to-the-last class, Gawlak and three firemen from North County Fire instructed the students on how to prepare a delicious pancake breakfast with strawberries! Certificates of achievement were given out to the students and a delightful recognition and appreciation was enjoyed by all.
On July 28, the last day of class, Gawlak also arranged for the students and teachers to visit and tour Kendall Farms, led by Jason Kendall, owner, where they learned about the farm and how it operates. Students and teachers were invited to pick sunflowers to take home and later got to see where Kendall Farms grows fresh fruits and vegetables on their 500-acre property, an operation called OUTREACH FARMERS PROJECT, that provides fresh produce to the pantry, as well as several other nonprofits locally. This initiative is run primarily by volunteers from Rancho Christian Church out of Temecula, thanks to Troy Kendall, Jason’s cousin who also works for their family owned and operated farm.
The Fallbrook Food Pantry members are hoping to start another Nutrition to Grow On class soon, so stay tuned for more fun and exciting news about this program and others launching this fall and winter.