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A hand plants a vegetable seed. A plate of fresh garden salad.

*This is an excerpt from The Urban Difference: Report 2020

Gardening can foster greater interest in STEM subjects and careers among youth.

Urban Green: Let’s Grow a MEAL

Gardening provides young people with a full understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. For example, children can study science through plants, insects, nutrition, and environmental issues. They learn about the impact of technology through tools used for farming or gardening. They learn engineering by the careful design of gardens, and mathematics by learning how to make a profit from harvesting the plants they grow and possibly sell. Gardening can also improve nutrition, reduce childhood obesity, and increase physical activity and interactive learning. 

In 2020, Alabama Extension at AAMU partnered with Alabama State University’s TRIO program, Elmore County Public Schools, Head Start, the Montgomery City-County Public Library System, and Tri-County 4-H to offer a youth home container gardening series. Unlike traditional gardening, the Let’s Grow a MEAL (Montgomery, Elmore, Autauga, and Lowndes counties) was delivered virtually and provided 115 youth with hands-on learning activities. 

For example, students learned about soil and water basics and watering and irrigation strategies, as well as how to seed and breed plants for small space gardening. In addition, students were introduced to the four Rs of green living: reduce, reuse, recycle, and repurpose.

As a result of training, students reused and repurposed toilet and paper towel rolls to start and plant seedlings, reducing the number of paper rolls ending up in public landfills. Students were also encouraged to repurpose plastic soda bottles and other containers around the house for planters to grow their favorite vegetables on a small scale. 

The program was renamed From Seed to Supper and will be offered to youth across the state. 


View other excerpts from The Urban Difference: Report 2020 here. 


Author & Editor, Wendi Williams, Communications & Marketing Coordinator, Alabama A&M University. Design/layout, Shannon Schoeneweiss, Technology Media Coordinator, Alabama A&M University.

New November 2021, The Urban Difference: Report 2020, UNP-2184


This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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