By Tina Dirmann
staff writer for BCBSLA Foundation
How do you get lovely zucchinis and squash and okra and corn to pop up in the summer? You gotta plant ‘em in the spring!
And that’s just what dozens of Lafayette volunteers, young and not-so-young, did this past Saturday, gathering at the Truman Montessori School for a three hour seed planting party.
“What a really, really great turn-out we had,” said Emily Neustrom, Seed to Table program manager, who also works as a horticulture therapist (teaching adults recovering from physical and mental traumas how to use planting/gardening as a means towards personal-healing).
Working a one acre patch of land, donated by the Lafayette Parish School System, kids, their parents and other adult volunteers planted a slew of seeds that will ripen this summer into blooms of cucumbers, snap beans, tomatoes, eggplant, peas, herbs, and more.
“That’s when our program officially begins, when the plants are producing this June and July,” Neustrom said. “We’ll be out here daily then, harvesting.”
And cooking, Neustrom says!
“Every day we’ll be cooking a meal while our kids are learning nutrition and food preparation,” she said.
Seed to Table was purposely set on the grounds of a school so program officials could specifically target young eaters.
“The outreach is mainly to kids because research shows that dietary habits are learned as children,” Neustrom said. “Things they learn now carry over into adulthood. So, the earlier we teach them to eat healthy, and to like vegetables, the more likely it is we’ll have healthy adults.”Apparently, the message is already getting through. After three hours of working the land, everyone stopped for lunch, then moved to call it a day… But the young farmers were ready for more!
“All the adults were tired,” Neustrom noted. “But the kids wanted to keep planting! They were so excited to plant. They really had a blast.”
The Seed to Table program is sponsored by our very own Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant winner, Healthy Living Club (awarded $1 million to focus on creating wellness programs for the residents of Lafayette). HLC, comprised of 24 local organizations, led by the local Kiwanis Club chapter, raised an additional $1.5 million in matching funds to support their health-oriented programs.