From DEBRA ESCHMEYER
Gardening is hot, and I don’t mean just sweaty work in July while you hoe the purslane and harvest beans, squash, and zucchini. Working the land is a trendy topic from web-rooted FarmVille to the White House to the written word.
Part of the reason for the new interest in the simple but yet so intensely complex act of growing food is that we have a clear problem and myriad solutions. The problem: obesity rates increased in 28 states in the past year. As recently reported in “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010,” obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges our country has faced. With 1 in 3 US children age 2-19 overweight or obese, we need to end this trend and fortunately, many organizations, initiatives, and resources aim to solve child obesity in a generation.
Part of the solution starts with students and a seed. The benefits of gardening are far beyond the average 270 calories burned while digging in the dirt. The Royal Horticulture Society reported in new research that “as well as helping children lead happier, healthier lives today, gardening helped them acquire the essential skills they need to fulfill their potential in a rapidly-changing world and make a positive contribution to society as a whole.”
Our society craves a connection to a sense of place, to where our food comes from, to the community that used to surround a meal. We are so far removed from agriculture that over 20 million people daily use a mouse instead of a hoe to harvest on FarmVille. While living in DC during snowpocalypse 2010, I achieved level 30 in FarmVille in a few short weeks—albeit extremely frustrated at the ridiculousness of never actually ‘harvesting’ the farm animals and collecting chocolate milk from a brown cow.