Worth County students visit FVSU 4-H/AG Village Community Garden

Published By: Russell Boone October 22, 2019

Kena Torbert, family life specialist for Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension Program, explains the benefits of healthy eating to Worth County Middle School students during the FVSU Wal-Mart Foundation 4-H Healthy Habits 2020 Grant Project Kickoff event. The activity recently took place at the FVSU 4-H/AG Village Community Garden in Sylvester.

More than 760 middle school students participating in FVSU’s 4-H Program, attended the FVSU Wal-Mart Foundation 4-H Healthy Habits 2020 Grant Project Kickoff event in Sylvester.

Worth County Middle School Students learned how food is grown and the benefits of healthy eating with help from Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology and Cooperative Extension staff.

Sixth, seventh and eighth graders visited the FVSU 4-H/AG Village Community Garden. The garden, a 5-acre farm and lake, is the result of FVSU’s 4-H Program and garden co-founders Eda Garcia and Sam X creating a 4-H project bridging healthy eating habits, art and agriculture. The project has grown through its collaboration with the city of Sylvester, the Worth County School System and FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program.

During each day, students listened to presentations from representatives from FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program staff, local physicians, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension personnel, Worth County Health Department and Village Community Garden management. FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Life on the FarmProgram and tours of the garden provided students an opportunity to see actual crops and farm animals.  “In the process of teaching young people about how to eat healthy, we also want them to know where food comes from, and why that matters,” said Woodie Hughes Jr., FVSU’s assistant Extension administrator state 4-H program leader.

Pam Parten (left), STEM chairperson for Worth County Middle School and Woodie Hughes Jr., FVSU assistant Extension administrator and 4-H program leader, pose in front of Village Community Garden sign in Sylvester.

“It’s really important for them (students) to be able to grow things and be more self-sufficient and be healthier because we found out a lot of their snacks were junk food,” said Pam Parten, who teaches sixth grade gifted science and math classes. The math teacher said that even though the area is an agricultural community, a lot of the students have never been in a garden or realize where their food comes from.

The Worth County educator said that with the help of Sam X, project coordinator of the Village Community Garden, they hope to start a garden at Worth County Middle School and get students more involved in agriculture. She added that if students are performing a hands-on activity, they will become more engaged, interested and take away more from the experience.

“I think it’s wonderful that Fort Valley State has come in and helped. Mr. Sam had a great vision with this (the garden). To be able to come in and help and expand it is amazing for a small community,” Parten said.

Hughes said the tours and workshops play a vital role in recruiting students to become active members of 4-H. He said the activity in Sylvester is one of several projects funded by the $55,000 Wal-Mart Foundation 4-H Healthy Habits 2020 Grant.

For more information about FVSU’s 4-H program, contact Hughes at (478) 825-6296 or hughesw@fvsu.edu.