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Teens Help Harvest 10,000 lbs of Fresh Vegetables for Local Food Bank

I met an incredible group of young people this summer. Area middle and high school students and students from The Faison School for Autism who were toiling in the summer heat at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. They were helping to plant and harvest almost 10,000 lbs of fresh vegetables to feed children and the elderly.

Watch this Science Matters video to find out why they care and why it matters to FeedMore.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has both long and short term Youth Volunteer Opportunities for teenagers to give back to their community. If you want to get involved at the Garden check out the Volunteer section of their website.

This year, teen volunteers worked in Lewis Ginter's quarter of an acre Community Kitchen garden to plant and harvest hundreds of vegetables and herbs for FeedMore, Central Virginia's Food Bank. They delivered pounds of squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes (and more tomatoes), basil, dill, cucumbers, Swiss chard, bell peppers, eggplant and watermelons to be included in meals for Feed More’s Kids Café program and Meals on Wheels.  Gayle Haglund, FeedMore's Chief Philanthropy Officer describes the importance of their work as “kids helping kids, grandparents, and great grandparents - which is about as great as it gets!"

According to Casey Hues, FeedMore's Chef and Food Production Manager, "a lot of fresh food goes into the 2-3,000 Kids Meals we provide a day.  It takes 350 lbs. of fresh produce to make one side item for the Kid's program."  Thanks to these dedicated volunteers many children in our area enjoyed produce cultivated and delivered with lots of care.  

Why is this something a teenager likes to do? 

Volunteers Patrick Garrett and Halle Duffie explained they enjoy being outside and helping their community.  They know that helping others to have fresh, local food is a great way to give back and have fun in the summer.  What else is added to make this a perfect summer formula?  Not only are they doing important work, they are also using the garden as a fertile learning lab.

Erin Wright, an educator at Lewis Ginter who works with youth volunteers, shares that “there are so many things to learn in a garden: how to plant and harvest, about pest control and soil health, and about food systems and nutrition.” I really like the fact that the students also gain practical work experience and explore career options.

I’d like to applaud these young volunteers for all of their hard work and encourage others to join them in the program. What better way to spend your time than getting to know your local botanical garden and helping others to have fresh food?

And by the way- parents and grandparents – there are opportunities for you to volunteer as well.  Give it a try - go and grow!

For more information- Volunteers/Children’s Garden section of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s website.

Find out how you can help feed our community at FeedMore.

Article by Debbie Mickle, Science Matters Project Manager

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