CDC children become gardeners for Month of the Military Child
Alissa Martin, 2, gets some help from her teacher, Alexandra Garner, in planting a strawberry plant.

FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Throughout April, children at Fort Belvoir's Child Development Centers have been learning about gardening and food nutrition as part of a project during the Month of the Military Child.

Inspired by a speech given by first lady Michelle Obama about gardening and getting kids to eat healthy and be fit, the South Post CDC has planted fruits and vegetables in their own garden.

Donna Wilson-Peal, director of the South Post CDC, and her team has titled the project "From seed to snack."

"What we wanted to do for the Month of the Military Child is do an activity that would allow the entire center to participate, not just the big kids," Wilson-Peal said. "It was exciting to see the toddlers and infant classrooms learn about planting."

In their garden, the center has planted cucumbers, strawberries, green beans, peas, radishes, basil, beets, watermelon and mint.

In addition to planting outside, each class has planted grass and other vegetables in their classrooms.

"We want to show the children that healthy eating is important and starts with food grown in the ground," Wilson-Peal said. "It's easy to do and we have been giving parents activities to do with the children at home."

All of the classrooms at the CDC have participated in the project. Children even made their own stepping stones to go in their gardens.

As part of the project, some of the classes have taken field trips to learn more about nature and plants.

"We have taken nature walks down to Tompkins Basin to collect stones, observe insects and plants," Katina Phifer, a training and curriculum specialist for pre-kindergarten students, said. "The pre-K and preschool classes also took a field trip to the Home and Garden Center to learn more about plants."

The children also learned about other ways to keep the environment clean.

"While they were learning about planting, we also taught them about composting and recycling and they spent a lot of time recycling and building things out of recyclable materials," Wilson-Peal said. "We had several festivities during Earth Day to teach the children about recycling.

The CDC has incorporated all subjects from the curriculum into this project.

"Next week, we are going to incorporate language arts and the children will draft letters to Mrs. Obama to tell her about their garden," Wilson-Peal said.

She added the CDC will continue to focus on nutrition and continue with plant education.
"This month has just been the start of it and we are going to continue working on the garden," She said. "We are going to add sunflowers and then, hopefully, we will harvest what we've grown.

"We are hoping to show the children that this is where your food comes from and maybe get some cooking projects out of this," she said.

Page last updated Thu April 29th, 2010 at 13:25