YMCA learning garden grows from passion project to valuable resource


WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — Over a year ago, a small group of people came together to build the Fayette County Family YMCA learning garden. The learning garden started as a passion project and has grown into a valuable resource for the YMCA and the community.

The overall purpose of the learning garden project is to address the poor health outcomes of Fayette County. In Ohio county health rankings, Fayette County was 71st out of 88 counties in health outcomes, 74th in health factors and 74th in health behaviors. These health outcomes are important because a healthy beginning is essential to a healthy future for our children. The garden also addresses food insecurities and giving those children the healthy start they need.

The goals the YMCA wanted to accomplish this first year were:

– Get the area prepped for the garden

– Secure sponsors for the raised beds

– Hopefully have a harvest this year

With the help of the Farm to Fork grant, St. Catherine’s and Court House Manor, Adena Health System, Care-giver Co-Op, Washington Court House Rotary, Fayette Soil and Water, Master Gardeners and numerous volunteers, the project came to fruition.

“We met and exceeded those goals. In the spring, the children in our before/after school program sowed seeds that would eventually grow in the garden. It’s neat to watch the children see the magic of the lifecycle of a plant,” said Amanda List, business director. “Studies show that students who are exposed to garden programs have a higher math, reading, and science score on standardized tests. These statistics are supported by multiple studies looking at how gardens affect classroom achievement. The results are hard to ignore.”

The children have helped weed, water and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and herbs. They also get to enjoy the fruits of their labors. They have enjoyed salads, cucumbers with ranch dressing, a stir fry, and multiple other snacks.

“Many of the parents say the kids enjoy helping in the garden, and think it’s important for the kids to see where their food comes from,” said List.

Today, the garden is producing quite the bounty and with the help of OSU Extension-Fayette County

“We are offering cooking and nutrition classes to the public and to the children in our programs,” said List.

The classes will be Aug. 25, Sept. 8 and 22, and Oct. 6 and 20. All of the extra produce has been offered to the public for free. There are updates on the Fayette County Family YMCA Facebook when there is extra produce.

If you are interested in donating to the learning garden, please contact Amanda List, business director of the Fayette County Family YMCA.

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