Grow Local's afterschool programs plant STEM seed for Westside kids

Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-26 19:46:20-05

Grow Local South Texas is an organization that provides locally grown food for its weekly farmers market, but that’s not all they do.

They also have educational programming.

Grow Local South Texas’ Taylor Thorne has been teaching children how to garden at the Antonio E. Garcia Arts and Education Center during their afterschool programs.

"I grew up on a farm, I have a farm in Robstown and I grew up in farmland, country gardening things like that so this is right up my alley," said.

The class is one of many that Grow Local provides for the Coastal Bend area.

"We find that working with children is always something that's great, but when we take them outside to learn -- to apply those same STEM skills out in nature -- we find we have great success," said Grow Local South Texas Executive Director David Nuss.

Nuss says having after school programs helps with the group’s mission: By allowing kids to grow their own produce, they understand what goes into bringing their food from farm-to-table, among other STEM-like skills.

"There is nothing like growing your own food,” Thorne said. “You don't have to depend on H-E-B or Walmart or anywhere else. You can grow your own food and feed your family with everything that you grow in your backyard."

Thorne has been able to teach kids about pollination, soil, and types of vegetables and fruit that grow during different seasons.

They also have on-site composting, so the kids can see old plants and food scraps turn into dirt.

Esmeralda Herrera-Teran is the director at the Antonio E. Garcia Arts and Education Center and says having this type of program available for kids helps teach them about living a healthier lifestyle and has allowed them to revisit the outdoors after being stuck inside due to the pandemic.

"Our kids have learned so much,” she said. “We've had parents come up and just give us testimonies that their children are actually eating broccoli, eating spinach, eating peppers that they take home from here, radishes in their salad, they take home from here and they take it to their tables. I think it's a great opportunity."