The ‘Growing at Home’ Initiative:
The ‘Growing at Home’ initiative encourages all local children and youth to learn to garden and grow their own healthy, nutritious food. Through ‘Growing at Home’ we provide children and youth in Renfrew County with packs of easy-to-grow seeds at no cost, and support to help them grow their own at-home edible gardens.
What is the ‘Growing at Home’ Initiative?
‘Growing at Home’ was created in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a way to pivot the Good EGG program (Good Edible Grassroots Gardens), a school gardening program, which is typically located on school properties. We realized that local children and youth could not participate in gardening and were losing the opportunity to learn about growing and eating healthy nutritious food, using curriculum-based learning. ‘Growing at Home’ allows families to participate in the gardening at home, reducing grocery bills and improving food security. CPAN is pleased to provide all children and youth with packs of easy-to-grow seeds at no cost so that they will enjoy stress-free gardening. CPAN also supports this initiative by posting gardening, tips, tricks, resources, and relevant information to help our ‘Growing at Home’ students find success in the garden. We are also happy to receive stories, photos, tips, and tricks from our young gardeners.
Since its inception, ‘Growing at Home’ has provided hundreds of young gardeners with the opportunity to learn and grow their own fresh produce, their self-esteem, and life-skills! ‘Growing at Home’ is open to ALL children and youth in Renfrew County, regardless of family income. We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to be able to eat fresh, healthy, nutritious food. Being food secure is a basic need.
The following are just a few examples of the positive impact ‘Growing at Home’ has made with local families:
“My children loved this program last year and would for sure love to participate again. Thank you so much! I know we are all looking forward to growing an amazing garden this year!”
– ‘Growing at Home’ Parent
“Our 1st little “harvest”. YouTube said something about thinning the seedlings, so we did, and these little cuties came up. It provided a great opportunity for discussion about carrots and definitely helped show how the teeny seeds can turn into something we can eat. Oh, and they tasted fresh! ”
– ‘Growing at Home’ Family
“My 3-year-old is always very eager to help with the watering, so we do that together. My 7-year-old is proud of the garden and likes to see what I pull from it but is not as eager to get his hands dirty. I think he will want to help more when the beans are ready to be collected. As for the radishes, I don’t even know if I had ever tried one before growing our own!”
– ‘Growing at Home’ Parent
Benefits of the ‘Growing at Home’ Initiative
There are many benefits to gardening, especially at home:
- Healthy Eating. Research shows that children who garden are more likely to eat what they grow.
- Individual or Collaborative. Gardening can be a solitary or team project that gets families outside in the fresh air.
- Problem Solving. It has been proven that children that garden become flexible thinkers.
- Environmental Sustainability. Having a home garden encourages environmental stewardship and is eco-friendly.
- Financial Benefits. Growing fresh produce reduces grocery bills and creates an affordable way to access healthy food that is often costly.
- Skill Building. Research has proven that young gardeners learn many valuable life skills, and show improvement in: problem solving, resiliency, cooperation, and patience.
- Mental Health. Gardening reduces anxiety, improves self-esteem and self-confidence, encourages empathy and nurturing, is a positive way to manage stress, and is good for the soul.
COVID-19 has caused families to spend additional time indoors and has impacted (and in many cases eliminated) student’s participation in extracurricular activities. ‘Growing at Home’ provides students with a fun, ongoing activity that they can enjoy at home, while using curriculum-based skills and learning life-long skills.
Additional benefits of ‘Growing at Home’ due to COVID-19:
- Improved activity. Gardening encourages students to be outside and away from devices.
- Experiential learning. ‘Growing at Home’ provides a fun, safe, and dynamic at-home learning experience for young gardeners, all while using skills learned in the curriculum while gardening (without them even realizing it!)
- Fun for the whole family. All family members can work together during lockdowns etc. and there are no contact risks. It also increases positive bonding time!
- Free. ‘Growing at Home’ gives local children, youth, and their families the chance to try gardening at no cost to them.
- Community Collaboration. Families can share photos and stories of their ‘Growing at Home’ adventures discuss gardening with others through social media. We encourage families to share these photos and stories of their gardening adventures with us!
- Support. Tips, tricks, and handy resources are provided through CPAN’s social media to help our young gardeners.
For more information regarding the benefits of gardening for children and youth please visit the Good EGG page at: https://renfrewcountycpan.ca/good-egg
Why we created ‘Growing at Home’:
‘Growing at Home’ was created in response to COVID-19 and works to combat hunger and food insecurity locally. Access to healthy food is a large barrier for those who live in poverty, and rates of poverty are high in Renfrew County. Statistics show that over 15% of children and youth from ages 0-17 that live in Renfrew County are considered low income. According to the Renfrew County District Health Unit, in 2018 1 in 10 households (12%) in Renfrew County face food insecurity as a direct impact of living in poverty, and the cost of food increases yearly. Families facing food insecurity are often forced to skip meals, and compromise on the quality of their groceries because they cannot afford to buy healthy food. We know these numbers will continue to grow whether there is a global pandemic or not. Statistics show that individuals under 18 years of age who are considered food insecure are at a higher risk of mental health problems, including social anxiety, depression, and suicide. ‘Growing at Home’ helps to combat the prominent levels of household food insecurity in Renfrew County by providing families the opportunity to learn to grow their own healthy food at no cost, therefore access to fresh produce.
Gardening can be used as an educational tool and is an enjoyable activity for all ages and stages of life. We understand that due to COVID-19 children are learning and spending more time at home. This may cause added household stress on both parents and children. ‘Growing at Home’ offers families a chance to get outside and have fun planning, growing, and maintaining their own edible garden together.
Our objective as an organization is to understand and take affirmative action towards eliminating the grassroots cause of poverty in our community in an inclusive and empowering way. ‘Growing at Home’ honours this mandate. We believe that everyone, especially children and youth, deserve equal access to healthy nutritious food, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Healthy nutritious food is essential to physical and mental development, and our community members should never have to experience hunger. ‘Growing at Home’ can provide local children and youth with an opportunity to grow and eat their own fresh produce and learn enjoyable skills that they use throughout their lives.
How to Participate in ‘Growing at Home’:
Applying for ‘Growing at Home’ is easy as 1-2-3:
- To request easy-to-grow seeds families can send a personal message to our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/childpovertyactionnetwork, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- When you receive your seeds plant, nurture, and watch them grow!
- Keep in touch with CPAN’s Facebook Page to find helpful resources and share pictures of your success!
When requesting seeds, we ask families to provide the following information:
- Name (must be the parent or legal guardian, we do NOT want or need the name of your child)
- Full mailing address (Including postal code, so that we can mail the seeds)
- How many children do you have? (Include all children up to and including high school – 17 years old)
- Which school/s do they attend? (Example – 2 at Pine View PS, and 1 at Bishop HS)
- Which grades are your children in? (Example- SK, 5, and 9)
If you or someone you know would like to take part in the ‘Growing at Home’ initiative, or would like more information on it, please contact us through PM on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/childpovertyactionnetwork, or email: email@example.com.