By Madeleine Eldridge
In April, I had the privilege of attending POD Childcare Garden training alongside a mix of childcare center staff members and Cooperative Extension staff members. POD stands for Preventing Obesity by Design and is a project of the Natural Learning Initiative. The training was headed up by Sarah Konradi and Mary Archer of NLI. The session started off with a detailed but digestible presentation accompanied by beautiful handouts on child-safe, edible plants. The presentation covered general gardening skills along with specialized information pertinent to gardening for children with a focus on creating outdoor learning environments. For example, attendees were taught to plant near their building to allow for a clear view of the garden and to choose a location near a water source. Attendees also learned that grow bags are a simple way to plant things like potatoes, and allow children the hands-on opportunity to dig for treasure.
After the presentation, Mary and Sarah gave us materials to practice planning our own garden, and we went outside. Equipped with clipboards with graph paper and pencils, flags, rope, and tape measures, attendees formed groups and applied what they’d just learned. One group plotted their garden out in the “U-shape” that had been described as conducive to a class setting. Another planned to line their plants along their fence, ensuring that the plots were accessible to small children by checking that the plots only measured two feet deep from the fence to the outer border. At the very end, Sarah and Mary demonstrated how to use three-gallon grow bags, and the four childcare center attendees each got to take a soil-filled grow bag home, along with seeds! All in all, this was a very successful, enjoyable educational opportunity and Voices Into Action is happy to have taken part in the experience.
To learn more about Preventing Obesity by Design and the Natural Learning Initiative, please visit https://naturalearning.org/pod.