MARSHFIELD — The spring air is thick with anticipation as gardeners buy seed packets and dream of bountiful harvests. Many will break new ground as gardens are growing in popularity and diversity. Whether sponsored by a town, school, church, or neighborhood, these gardens are collectively known as community-based agriculture, and they are attracting eager newcomers.
“Gardening can be such a positive experience and an excellent way to kick-start a child’s interest in agriculture,” said Bryan Weichelt, project manager for the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, part of Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation. “I know our 2-year-old daughter is already looking forward to going out and ‘helping’ in the garden this spring.”
The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety has introduced a resource booklet to help ensure a safe, positive gardening experience. “Community-Based Agriculture: Safety Guidelines for Youth Working in Gardens” provides guidance for adults who are making decisions about what work is appropriate for children.
The booklet, located online at cultivatesafety.org/cba, draws upon previous research and resources from the National Children’s Center. It packages relevant content from the North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks and recommendations regarding hired adolescent workers. Many of the guidelines are available in Spanish.
“A child’s experience in a garden depends on the adults. If a child has fun, learns something, and is safe, it reflects back on the responsible adults,” Weichelt said.
The new booklet can help adults decide which tasks children should perform, what equipment they can use, what training they should receive, and how much supervision is needed Weichelt said. The safety of the child is always the responsibility of the adults.
For more information contact the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety by calling 1-800-662-6900, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting marshfieldclinic.org/nccrahs.