YMCA & Common Market Partner to Share the Harvest

Through a unique partnership, the YMCA and The Common Market are collaborating to provide fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to over 200 families in our early learning programs as part of our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) initiative.

Through our STEAM program, Y early learners are exposed to many aspects of plants and food, from farming and growing, to how food gets to market, and ultimately how it provides nutrition. Students also learn about issues like food deserts (areas of the city that do not have easy access to fresh food), and solutions like urban gardening, or inner-city farming. By partnering with The Common Market—a mission-driven distributor of regional farm food that strives to strengthen small and family-owned farms while also improving food accessibility—we can bring these concepts to life while making a difference in our communities and schools through nutrition and education.

In addition to being a solution to the inner-city fresh food shortage, urban gardening can be an essential learning tool for young scholars. When incorporating gardening into academic settings, students can observe the plant growth process as well as chemical processes such as photosynthesis, decomposition, and respiration.

At our early learning centers, we begin our urban gardening process inside the classroom, utilizing decomposable pots, peat moss, and organic compose soil to pre-plant our vegetables. While children participate in hands-on activities, teachers discuss scientific terms such as germination and photosynthesis, helping children build their vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Once the plants reach a certain height, classes transplant their vegetables to outside raised garden beds and nurture the plants as they grow. After several weeks, the vegetables are ready for harvest. During the harvest period, we include our early learning families and discuss the importance of proper nutrition and incorporating organic fruits and vegetables into our diets.

Our partnership with The Common Market allows us to share the harvest on a much larger scale than our students can produce within our early learning gardens. Through Y early learning centers, The Common Market distributes fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to families within our community that might not have access to them otherwise. More than 200 families have been reached through this partnership thus far, with larger numbers planned for the months to come. Community members and students are reaping the benefits of this bountiful partnership!

For more information about The Common market, visit their website: thecommonmarket.org

More Urban Gardening Solutions

Aquaponics and hydroponics are additional contemporary urban gardening solutions which we have incorporated into Y education programs, both of which use water as a soilless medium to grow fruits and vegetables. These research-proven methods reduce waste, pollution, and our carbon footprint. Community members are invited to tour our large-scale aquaponics tanks at the Arthur M. Blank Family Youth YMCA and the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA to learn more!