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April 20, 2012 > The Garden Project

The Garden Project

By Ana Lilia DeLeon-Gonzalez

A new community garden was created at Schilling Elementary School in Newark through a collaborative effort with the City of Fremont Human Services Department - Family Resource Center (FRC) -, Schilling Elementary School of Newark Unified District and the families of those attending the school. A group of ten Latino mothers and 20 children joined this community engagement project and meet weekly to plant nutritious fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, corn, zucchini, watermelon and green chiles.

Community gardening offers parents and their children the experience of planting, growing, and harvesting a garden. It also connects children with nature and offers hands-on learning opportunities. Parents have the opportunity to socialize, build relationships with their neighbors, learn to eat healthy vegetables and fruits which, in turn, helps to prevent diabetes. According to the Latino Diabetes Initiative, Latinos are the fastest growing and largest minority group in the United States diagnosed with diabetes; Schilling Elementary has a large population of Latino children.

This project also reduces parental stress and increases socialization, both of which can strengthen protective factors to reduce the possibility of child abuse. One mother said, "This helps me relax and have time to myself. It makes me feel great to know that I am helping the school with this gardening project." Teachers at Schilling Elementary also stated they are very happy that the garden has been renovated and that it makes the school look better.

FRC and the Schilling staff have worked together successfully identifying parent leaders who guide and plant the garden. The parents chose their role in the garden and are modeling love for the land, cooperation, and sustainability skills to their children.

Anyone who would like to donate supplies for the Schilling gardening project or the upcoming garden at Searless Elementary in Union City, please contact FRC Clinical Supervisor Ana Lilia DeLeon-Gonzalez at 510-574-2004 or ALDGonzalez@fremont.gov.

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