Growing connections

Aoifa Branco, whats in the bucket edited

Aoife Branco/Marlin Chronicle

By Andrew Petry

During this time of year the Virginia Wesleyan College community, along with other residents in the Hampton Roads area starts to enjoy the crisp temperatures and look forward to pleasures of fall. As the leaves begin to change color and the excitement of year-end holidays approaches, Fanny Greer and students in the Community Service office have begun a new partnership with the Western Bayside Churches United Community Garden on Baker Road. The Marlin Community Youth Garden Club was developed for elementary- and middle-school-aged children in the surrounding neighborhoods to gain an appreciation for gardening and healthy lifestyle choices.
In May, Greer traveled to New Orleans with a group to participate in an edible schoolyard tour, where she saw the rebuilding and use of gardens in low-income schools with the support of the community. This was not the first time Greer had shown children the value of gardens, though.
“When I was teaching many years ago as a kindergarten teacher, I always had a garden,” Greer said. “One year I had a little boy who didn’t speak, and we knew he was very smart,We had planted this garden, all of a sudden I heard this voice and he said, ‘It’s my turn, I wanna plant something!’ He`s been talking ever since.”
The program included three different stations with individual lessons: the learning tree, in the garden, and get fit. The get fit station involves outdoor field games which the children can play with the college students. The second station in the garden allowed the children to put plants in the garden, working through the different steps in the process.
Sophomore Regina Crichlow explained what she thought this program does for the kids. “It brings kids together to gain friendships and to be self-sufficient for their own garden, to eat healthy, and know what earth does,” she said.
At the third and final station, the learning tree, the children were able to pot plants that they could take home.
Each week, a different part of science will be featured, with new lessons and activities for the children over the course of the semester.
“We are all involved in building a better world, so this is a part of it. Being involved with the environment. How everything is connected and everything is related. One thing builds another,” Greer said.
The club meets each Thursday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Western Bayside Churches United Community Garden. To get involved, contact Diane Hotaling in the Community Service Office.