The Ladybugs are members of an Oregon Coast Community College spring term class designed to develop leadership skills. And they needed a community project to really “get in” to it. Three young women decided to call themselves “The Ladybugs” and asked Depoe Bay’s Neighbors for Kids program if they could use some help with their community garden. Shezzam! They were off!
The garden is an element of the “My Health, My Life” project, an ongoing program designed to help prevent childhood obesity, improve health, teach and encourage healthy lifestyle choices, and engage children in daily fitness and sports. Under the guidance of The Ladybugs, children will have hands-on work in the garden along with follow-up classes to teach them about sustainable organic gardening, the benefits of growing healthy, nutrient-rich foods, and creative ways to add fresh produce into a family’s meal schedule.
Ladybug Amber Nickerson is very excited about the project. “There is an epidemic of childhood obesity in our country. One in three kids is overweight, and it will only get worse if they don’t learn about healthy food,” she said. The children will take the food that they’ve grown and bring it to the after-school program for use in NFK’s nutrition program. “Kids are adventurous,” added Nickerson. “If they plant the food and then pick it themselves, they are more likely to try it.”
The Ladybugs are renewing growing beds with new compost, clearing blackberries and thimbleberry bushes and making a path around the garden plot. They are also taking note of which plants survived over the winter and planning for new ones. The red and purple potatoes planted last year are coming up, as well as the herb garden with lavender, sage, thyme, rosemary, mint and peppermint. The kids are expected to plant pumpkins so they’ll have Jack o’ Lanterns in October for Halloween. They’ll also have sunflowers in containers that can be moved to follow the sun. The children will then harvest the seeds for nutritious snacks.
The Neighbors for Kids Community Garden is in its third year. It has been generously supported by the City of Depoe Bay, which allows NFK the use of the property for the educational garden, and by Dorothy Bishop, a neighbor, who kindly donates the use of her hose and water for the garden. In addition, funding for the project has been provided by the Oregon Department of Education’s Child Care Wellness Grant, Samaritan Health Services, U. S. Bancorp Foundation, Safeway Foundation, Fred Meyer Stores and the local community.
The Ladybugs invite all community members to participate in this community garden. “Come in, pick two weeds, and grab a tomato,” said Crosby with a smile. “We want everyone in the community to know that this is their garden.”
If you would like to be a part of the NFK Community Garden or learn more about the project, visit our website at www.neighborsforkids.org/ or contact Executive Director Toby Winn at 541-765-8990.