When Harvesting History began ten years ago, it served less than 100 children. Today, it serves over 2,000 youth, seniors, and adults throughout Columbia and Greene Counties. Students harvest vegetables and herbs, and learn how to transform this produce into delicious and healthy snacks like kale chips, mint tea, or yogurt dip. Each student receives fresh produce from the garden to bring home as well as the knowledge of how to prepare it. When children learn where their food comes from, how to plant a garden and how to cook nutritious meals, they develop healthy eating habits at a young age. This leads to a reduction in lifelong chronic illnesses caused by poor diet like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Introducing children to new fruits and vegetables using basic recipes can put them on track to make smarter food choices for life. These choices can impact their entire family’s eating habits.
Harvesting History has been and always will be provided to partnering public schools and non-profit organizations completely free of charge. In recent years, we have expanded our curriculum to incorporate lessons about climate science, and introduce students to other disciplines, including art, creative writing, meteorology, entomology, and more.
In a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and an effort to maintain the teaching garden as a means of nourishing the community, we decided to grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs not only for our educational programs, but to feed our neighbors in need. In 2022, the Harvesting History Food Collaborative provided over 900 fresh food items packaged to feed a family of four to local food banks.
When we were unable to host or visit local schools and non-profits due to the pandemic, we adapted Harvesting History to include the creation and distribution of activity kits. These kits contained all of the materials and instructions necessary to complete DIY activities like candied violets, birdseed ornaments, and turnip carving. From 2020-2023, we provided thousands of activity kits to youth in Columbia and Greene Counties.
After realizing the impact that the pandemic has had on senior citizens in our community, we began bringing some of these activity kits to local senior housing centers, pairing them with in-person workshops.
One of the biggest challenges that the pandemic presented to our program is that it proved far more difficult for children to visit the Harvesting History Teaching Garden. While we previously welcomed youth to Clermont, the pandemic forced us to adapt most of our programs to occur off-site. Transportation remains an issue to this day, so most of our programming continues to occur off-site in an effort to take the pressure off of our program partners.