Innovative Health Centered Agricultural Programs
Chipping Hill Micro Farms conducts various activities as part of our efforts to educate young people about the importance of nutrition. These lessons, outreach initiatives, and more are designed with sustainability in mind, and they are aimed towards the less-privileged children in our community.
Who We Serve
Direct experience with gardening and fresh produce has more effect on a child than abstract lessons about nutrition or the food pyramid. This is true in children from all economic levels, particularly those living in impoverished urban sectors of Philadelphia and Montgomery County.
Most individuals in these low-income groups have little understanding of where produce comes from. Food has become disassociated from the natural and agricultural systems that produce it. To many of these kids, what we eat comes from the store and is just “always there.”
We aim to change this mindset, and we focus mostly on children who are living within or below the poverty level. Our programs will continue to target these populations, spreading healthy eating habits and long-term disease prevention practices to low-income families down to their littlest members.
Overview of Classes
We are part of the educational program. We visit schools and offer a series of twenty 45-minute long hands on experiences for children ages 3-5. All of these sessions end in a shared meal consisting solely of fresh produce that satisfies each child’s daily fruits and vegetables serving requirement. During these lessons, we will cover basic principles of the following topics:
God’s Garden Day Care (Roxborough, PA): 31 Students; PreK
Childspace Day Care and Head Start (Mount Airy, PA): 32 Students; PreK and Head Start
Johnson Child Care Center (Ogontz, PA): 90 Students; PreK
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (Norristown, PA): 100 Students, PreK
Ida’s Learning Center (Germantown, PA): 26 Students, PreK
Settlement Music School (Germantown, PA): 38 Students, PreK and Head Start
Ambler Head Start (Ambler, PA): 20 Students, PreK
Connecting Nutrition, Health and Agricultural
Most programs targeting nutrition in young children are removed from food systems and sources, giving a disconnected idea of food from where it’s produced. The effects of this disassociation are more pronounced in children born to impoverished families, as they have an inequitable start in life in terms of nutrition.
Our goal is to reconnect their idea of healthy bodies to the agricultural system. This way, young people will understand the difference between an organic heirloom tomato grown nearby and a pesticide-riddled tomato that was picked while still green.
To achieve our objectives, we design and install unique and innovative mobile greenhouse teaching units. We also have a very scalable, pioneering program that works as a simple intervention tool for learning. Kids from PreK and Head Start will be educated about healthy foods and as well as sustainable gardening. With us, they will learn how to grow, harvest, and prepare raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, and other produce.
Publicity and Outreach
Soon after we built a mobile greenhouse as a teaching unit in Ambler, Pennsylvania, an article was published in a local newspaper, The Ambler Gazette. It was syndicated and picked up by the Associated Press, later appearing in local newspapers across the country. It was then featured in U.S. News & World Report. After this media coverage, we received many calls and emails from all over the country asking for building plans and program designs.
Chipping Hill Micro Farms also received a call from the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (MCIU), which runs Head Start and PreK Count programs. They had immediate funding for 5 classes of 20 PreK children. The program was well received until March 12th when it was curtailed due to the pandemic.
This summer, the director of MCIU asked if we had the capacity to have classes for all Head Start pupils in Montgomery County, which includes 610 PreK children. We are now writing grants to raise $135,000 so that we can make this happen in 2021.
Please reach out to us to learn more about our programs. We look forward to hearing from you soon.