North Central SARE From the Field Profile
Young People Learn the Importance of Native Edible Plants
Wild Eating: Bringing Food Production Back to Nature
Scattering Farms is a 47-acre outdoor learning center with a history of helping children learn about teamwork and nature. In 2012, an urban 4-H Club from Mexico, Missouri, with no experience being in the woods, was invited to work with Master Gardeners and garden club members to plant 18 kinds of native edible trees, shrubs, and flowers in a designated area along a trail.
Youth learned how to use gardening tools, prepare the ground for planting, sustainable growing methods, and how to choose a proper location based on a plant’s need for sunlight and nutrients. Later the youth learned to label and mulch each of the plantings. They returned to taste some of the wild edibles already growing in that space.
“They learned how their health and happiness can improve by getting outdoors and working in the soil—planting something, collecting it, and then eating it,” Worstell said.
Scattering Farms is virgin woods and grows native species readily. Most of the plantings survived but the summer drought forced replanting of some in 2013. The Wild Eating sign by the trail created much interest in the plantings from others passing by on the trail.
The Master Gardeners held meetings at Scattering Farms and viewed the Wild Edibles area, and middle school students visited. An annual Wild Edibles Day in May and Grandparents Day in September also spread the word.
In 2013, replanting was done where needed and public information days were conducted to inform youth and others about the health and taste benefits of wild edibles.
Worstell said although none of the youth are likely to become farmers, they learned that growing plants is fun. One boy expressed his excitement to Worstell: “He came to me to say, ‘Now I can get a free tree and take it home and plant it in my garden.’”
View Laura's presentation on this project, from the 2012 Farmers Forum, through NCR-SARE's YouTube playlist. Visit www.youtube.com/NCRSAREvideo for this and other videos.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) YENC12-038, Wild Eating: Bringing Food Production Back to Nature.
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