OCEANSIDE — North County Community Services has teamed with local child development centers to plant vegetable gardens that teach and feed. “It’s farm to fork,” Stan Miller, executive director of North County Community Services, said. “Kids learn where food comes from, and all food grown at the site is incorporated into meals the children eat.”The gardens vary in size. One of the largest gardens sits behind Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church on North River Road.
The garden has space for 84 4-foot-by-20-foot planting beds. Half of the beds are leased out to community members who plant and maintain their beds and pay an annual $50 water fee.
Vegetables from the school beds are used in school meals and in the North County Community Services food bank program.
Last year the gardens that North County Community Services maintains at child development centers and at its food bank site produced 5,000 pounds of vegetables.
“Our basic mission is improving our neighbors’ health and well-being,” Miller said.
The garden at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church is productive all year. It is replanted twice annually. In summer tomatoes, corn, squash, and beans are planted. In fall it is onions, broccoli and cauliflower.
Volunteers help maintain the school garden beds. Groups sign up to help and individuals drop in to volunteer the second Saturday of each month.
“Volunteers are consistently needed,” Miller said. “Weeds grow year round. You never run out of things to do in a garden.”
In addition to planting and weeding, volunteers help turn over compost piles, cover garden trails with wood chips, and recently have been tasked to paint a mural on the storage shed.
Volunteer school groups use the opportunity to learn about plants. No insecticides are used in the gardens, so students also learn about good garden bugs and bad bugs.
On May 25 students from High Tech High School volunteered. Students were split into small work groups and took on gardening tasks. Students and teachers said it was a great experience.
Teachers said they brought students to learn about gardening, but also to learn about efforts to help feed people.
“It’s a pretty amazing spot,” Miller said.