Giving Garden helping local children learn the importance of healthy eating

Underprivileged children learn about gardening, healthy eating, hard work


FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – On Friday, about a dozen Bedford County students took a field trip to the Giving Garden near the Booker T. Washington National Monument to learn how to plant, water, harvest, compost and taste fresh vegetables.

The kids are in the Smith Mountain Lake Good Neighbors program, an educational summer camp for children in Bedford and Franklin Counties that focuses on academic mentoring in reading, writing, quantitative and communications skills.

Giving Garden coordinator De English said the kids learn cooperation, where their food comes from and the value of hard work.

"We want to get them excited about eating healthy food," English said.

Everything in the garden is organically grown, and it's all donated to local food pantries.

"Everything goes to help those in need," English said.

Marion Wagner has volunteered with Good Neighbors since it started in 2007.

The children also can get tutoring because those kids are most at risk for summer learning loss.

"We started out with about 40 kids, and we've grown to 400," Wagner said.

English said the garden produces about a ton of vegetables every year and it's run entirely by volunteers to fight hunger in their community.

"I love the excitement in the kids," English said. "I love the fact that we're able to help a lot of people in our community that just don't have the food, the good, healthy food."

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