For many decades community and school gardens have been used as a way to help young people reconnect with their food and encourage healthier eating. EOBA started its organic garden over 20 years ago as a means of promoting healthy eating for youth in the boxing program. Since then, the Garden club has evolved to be a critical component of the afterschool and summer programs. Students learn the medicinal and nutritional properties of certain plants, plant and harvest according to the seasons, and learn biology through observing and participating in the life cycle of plants from seed to harvest. Students provide kale, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and more to the Cooking club and the Cooking club provides compostable scraps for the garden in a symbiotic and educational relationship that helps youth understand the importance of a respectful and healthy relationship with the Earth that provides our food. That's in part to the temperate climate of the Bay Area, most of the year the garden is lush with the foliage of avocado, apple, pomegranate, fig, and citrus trees. A walk through the garden provides an oasis of calm in the urban jungle of Deep East Oakland.
At this juncture in society, it is largely agreed upon that future generations must gain a greater connection to the Earth and how to care for it in order to stop or reverse much of the damage to our global environment. By teaching respect for nature, gardening skills, and sustainability through recycling and compost, EOBA’s Garden program seeks to create champions in the community for a brighter and greener future, in East Oakland and beyond.
Correlation to Wellness
The greatest dimension of wellness impacted by our garden is environmental wellness. While EOBA is surrounded by communities plagued with illegal dumping, industrial buildings, and environmental pollution, the garden provides space for students to reconnect with the Earth and develop respect for green spaces. In addition to growing food, the garden also provides lessons in recycling, compost, and how our environment affects our mood and productivity. The cleaner air and pleasant environment also serves to soothe the stress and trauma many of our students face. In the garden, students engage in working meditation through the close attention required in caring for living spaces. By collaborating with others in the Garden club, as well as those in the Science and Cooking club, students also deepen their relationships with others and experience greater social wellness.