In many urban areas, children are surrounded by cement, brick and asphalt. The natural environment is behind fences and not available for hands-on exploration. This often means that urban children do not have a clear understanding of their agricultural heritage.

This summer Student/Participants of the Green Tech High Charter School = BOYS OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP TEAM (B.O.L.T.) received instructions from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardening Program on how to create Raised-Bed Vegetable Gardens in Albany City's Arbor Hill Community.

Students were taught to conserve natural resources and preserve the environment. A garden often encourages self-confidence and a sense of responsibility and belonging to one's community.

A garden can also bring a community together. Senior citizens, parents, students and community members can work together on designing, building and maintaining the garden as well as teaching the students after the garden is built. By getting help from many hands, the gardening experience becomes enjoyable for all.

Besides the fresh healthy food provided, there are great psychological and physical benefits from gardening. Gardening helps kids learn to appreciate nature and respect growing things. They learn about the food they eat, and where it comes from. Often kids will try new vegetables, or learn to like vegetables more, after they have grown them. The taste and eye appeal of food fresh from the garden can create a new attitude about healthy eating.

Need has increased especially among families with children and elderly persons, two groups that will be well-served by Green Tech's proposed Community Gardening Program. Green Tech High students will create gardens that are built in their own yards and need no digging or tilling.

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