When my husband and I started The GardenWorks Project, our kids were two and four years old. While their concerns mainly focused on their next snack and the next episode of Curious George, I, like other parents, worried about molding them into responsible citizens of the world. I wanted to expose them to the concepts of focusing on others and giving to those less fortunate. I researched a few volunteer opportunities in my community, but either they did not allow children, or they were more appropriate for older kids.
For that reason, The GardenWorks Project has always welcomed even the youngest of volunteers. From our first garden builds in 2012, my kids have been involved in the project. Do they know about the toll our sluggish economy is taking on working families? No. Do they know that some families fall apart leaving single moms to struggle just to put food on the table? No. Do they know that about 45,000 children go to bed hungry every night? No.
Because of The GardenWorks Project, they do know that some families use the food pantry because they run out of food before they have the money to buy more. They know that a seed planted in fresh soil and compost will grow into a plant, and that plant will grow vegetables that can feed these families. And they know that they have the power to help kids in their community who are just like them.
Volunteer with us to build a raised-bed vegetable garden for families in need in your community, and bring your kids with you. You shouldn't have to arrange for child care because you want to give back. Building vegetable gardens for others is a simple act of kindness that has lasting benefits for a family facing food insecurity. Working side by side with your kids is a special bonding activity that they will remember for a lifetime.
Each garden build lasts about an hour, short enough to keep kids interested from start to finish. My kids’ favorite part is smoothing out the soil and compost after it has been poured into the garden frames, breaking up the clumps with their bare hands. Other kids love planting seedlings, covering the roots with soil “like a blanket,” or burying tiny seeds. All of our volunteers learn how to build a raised-bed vegetable garden from scratch, so don’t be surprised if they want to repeat this at home!
Your kids will definitely leave the garden build dirtier than when they came, but we hope they also leave feeling proud of their work and inspired to help our neighbors in need. The world needs more people who care and contribute, so let’s start them young! Visit our Volunteer page to learn more.