It’s early May and Spring is in full swing here in Minnesota. The air is filled with birdsongs and the buzzing of pollinators, but things in the human world are undeniably quieter this year. We are now in month three of Governor Walz’s stay-at-home order with further extensions anticipated. Our usual ways of communing with the natural world may have been interrupted during this time, but the moment is also abundant with opportunities to explore new ways of nurturing ourselves with what lies right near our homes and backyards. Now, more than ever, it’s important to invest in health, wellness, connection to nature and one another. This is why Midwest Food Connection is adapting the programming to continue our mission of holistic food education while encouraging the safety of families and learning communities.
MFC is releasing a series of online videos made by the education + programming team to keep learning engaging and exciting as schools transition to a digital format. Videos like “Planning your Garden”, “The Ins and Outs of Seedlings”, “The Buzz on Bugs” and “Spring Harvest” provide invaluable lessons in home gardening to give kids tools that “can follow them through the rest of their lives” as Katya Wesely, one of MFC’s educators points out.
The videos guide learners how to plan a garden in the city using whatever resources they have available. ( Have any newspaper, paper towel rolls or to-go containers around? ) This includes talk of seed saving, resilience raising, urban farming, early seedling starting, transplanting and the importance of sustainable gardening practices that don’t harm plants, insects or animals.
“We want to make sure connections with nature, food and nourishment is fed. It’s important to engage with and empower youth in this way. let ‘em know they have outdoor spaces available to them at any time, even if it’s simply the outside world around their home. Young ones – you can raise seeds, cook delicious healthy foods, help others listen to nature and learn to grow too! We need you.”
Children can have a huge impact on the habits that are formed in their homes. In a world affected by COVID-19, staying grounded (quite literally) is crucial for our emotional and physical well-being. This might be one explanation for the national uptick in gardening, including many people who are setting out on home gardening ventures for the very first time. To facilitate students starting plants on their own, MFC is distributing seeds to over a dozen schools around the twin cities. The seeds are picked up by families in a way that permits social distancing.
Formal and informal evaluations show that the impact of Midwest Food Connection’s lessons stays with students outside the classroom. With MFC restructuring its program into a digital style, kids can now really take these lessons home with them. While we may be stuck inside more than usual, the change in our daily routines is opening up avenues to experiment with more sustainable ways of living. Midwest Food Connection’s online education is helping to give kids the knowledge and resources to do exactly that. The coming lessons allow students to explore their curiosity while also harvesting the power of food to build the strong, resilient communities that we need during this time.