| By Laura Eng
Networking with leaders within our neighborhoods has made way for partnerships that promote a healthier, more connected community. Parramore’s “Head Start” program at the Callahan Oaks Community Center and Knowledge for Living Center has helped us provide raised garden bed installations along with a hands-on education opportunity for their students, teachers, and volunteers. Nationally recognized, the Head Start program’s mission is to provide students age 3 to 5 with the experience, tools, and high-quality learning sites in their neighborhoods to set them up for success before starting kindergarten. The Knowledge for Living Center has donated their lawn space to grow fresh, organic produce that can be utilized by their Head Start program along with our Fleet Farmers.
Our Fleet Farmer Michael Gutierrez has been involved with the installation, farming, and educational process of the Head Start program’s garden. He has helped install and maintain the six 4×8′ garden beds donated by our urban agriculture program, with help from the little hands of the curious students. “Every Tuesday, students from the Head Start Program come out to the Knowledge for Living Center where they learn about the urban agriculture process and develop agricultural knowledge that can be used for a lifetime, whether it’s planting their first seeds or observing the growth of carrots,” Michael says. “It’s an opportunity for the kids to interact not only with their science curriculum, but also with the broader goals of the Head Start program, preparing for the social aspect of school, such as learning to raise their hands when they have questions and work with their classmates.”
The knowledge gained from learning how to grow one’s own food and sustain a community garden has far-reaching benefits that are now accessible within walking distance of the Callahan Community Center, where the program is hosted. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with these community leaders in a combined effort to make lasting impacts here in Parramore, with a focus on the leaders of tomorrow.
For more information on Parramore’s Head Start Program: http://www.headstartprogram.us/program/FL-callahan-community-center