In President Obama’s State of the Union address he made a very interesting point about the importance of teaching young children and even mentioned Georgia as an example of excellence in early childhood education.
On Thursday Feb. 14th, Valentine’s Day, the President showed his love to my little hometown of Decatur, GA as he paid a visit to College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center. I am especially proud because this model school has a Farmer D garden that we built there over three years ago, which has been well loved by the children, parents and faculty at the school.
Of course, it’s the middle of winter here in Georgia so the state of the garden is dormant awaiting its spring planting. I gave it a bit of a makeover as it’s not every day the President visits one of your gardens.
A garden in a preschool, or any school for that matter, is a valuable tool for teaching children valuable lessons in life including those that the President pointed out as paramount Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). In addition, as the First Lady points out in her new book American Grown, gardens at schools teach children about nutrition and get them excited about eating fresh vegetables.
At Farmer D Organics, we have built hundreds of school gardens and feel very passionate that growing organic food at homes, schools, busineses and communities as a way to address some of the biggest issues facing the world. These issues include food security, hunger, obesity and diabetes, the environmental impact of industrial agriculture and green job creation.
Growing farms and gardens is a way to foster more resilient communities in the face of climate change and ever-growing concerns about our dependency on fossil fuels. It is also a wonderful way to bring people together such as students, teachers and parents in the case of school gardens where communities come together to share in the work, harvest and celebration that comes with gardening, America’s #1 hobby.
Here is an excerpt from the State of the Union speech regarding the President’s emphasis on the importance of high quality preschools:
“These initiatives in manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, and housing will help entrepreneurs and small business owners expand and create new jobs. But none of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs. And that has to start at the earliest possible age.
Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives.
Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own. So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.”