Last week, children at 100 Acre Woods Child Care Center in De Soto rolled up their sleeves and planted their very own vegetable garden. As part of an outdoor learning center, the garden will provide children ages 3-12 with opportunities to grow, eat, and learn about fresh produce while being active outdoors. "The children will dig, plant, weed, harvest, and enjoy all aspects of having a garden," says Traci Vorpahl, Director of 100 Acre Woods. Instead of being cooped up indoors, garden-based lessons and activities will teach children about science and healthy eating. They’ll also enjoy the fruits of their labor, with produce incorporated into snack-time and a harvest party at the end of the season. "We hope to instill the benefits of healthy eating at a young age and help children become lifelong learners," Vorpahl explains. "We want them to understand where food comes, how it’s produced, and that it involves more than just going to the grocery store." By linking reading to garden produce, staff at the Center will also help children develop literacy skills.
The garden is a collaborative effort of 100 Acre Woods, a family-owned, state licensed, and QRS rated child care center, with donations from Harvey’s Greenhouse, and support from Dallas County Public Health’s Community Transformation Grant (CTG). For more information on how to start a child care, school, faith-based, or community garden, please visit the Community Health page at www.co.dallas.ia.us or contact Jennifer Walters, Community Health Coordinator, at 515-993-3750.