YMCA community garden nourishes the brains and bellies of kids

YMCA community garden nourishes the brains and bellies of local kids

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The Davis Family Y's Community Garden. The Davis Family Y's Community Garden.
Kids get their hands dirty in the garden. Kids get their hands dirty in the garden.
"We want to give back to the community, that's really what the YMCA is about," Dustin Day said. "We want to give back to the community, that's really what the YMCA is about," Dustin Day said.
Six-year-olds Jill, Zack and Drew try out some of the food. Six-year-olds Jill, Zack and Drew try out some of the food.

By KRISTIN FARLEY
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The YMCA is committed to helping to nourish healthy bodies and minds, and that's not just limited to working out.

In fact, one local Y is helping to produce healthy snacks for local food banks and summer camps and they want to help others learn how to grow their own food as well.

Nestled behind the Davis Family Y's Community Garden in West Knox County, 6 News found a surprising treat: a massive garden consisting of raised beds, hydroponics and a greenhouse.

Best of all, you might ask, kids are the driving force behind this project.

"The kids are very involved in all of this," said Community Garden Director Dustin Day. "We have days where we have 'lunch and learns' or workdays."

The day we stopped by, Day was showing the garden to the Langley triplets of Farragut. We watched as he encouraged the kids try some of the vegetables, like snap peas and radishes.

Six-year-olds Jill, Zack and Drew even learned about a few spices. And while they may not embrace everything, they liked a lot of what they tried.

The garden also reinforced that anyone can help grow their own food or like this community garden, they can grow it and give it to others.

"We take it and give it to kids like you guys at summer camps, so they can have a really healthy snack," Day explained to the kids.

Day said it all started with just three raised beds and a greenhouse from a grant last year.

This year, they wrote even more grants and Y members made donations to help make all this possible.

"Now we have 12 raised soil beds, an NFT channel for lettuce, vertical stackers for strawberries, cucumber, peppers, and we also have a Dutch bucket system where we will grow tomatoes," Day said.

Throughout the summer, the harvest from the massive garden will be donated and used to educate others.

Day travels to other schools and organizations to teach them how to start their own garden. In fact, he said that may be the most important part of all this.

"We want to give back to the community, that's really what the YMCA is about," he said.

If you would like to donate or learn more about the community garden, contact the Davis Family YMCA.

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