Sowing seeds for healthier eating is one of Brittany Kazmierski’s goals for day campers at The Waverly Community House.
Kazmierski is head counselor, level two, for those ages five to 7 at Comm Camp and also a dietetics major at the University of Delaware.
Recently, with the encouragement and help of family friend, Vince Maletta and Waverly Community House director Maria Wilson, Kazmierski incorporated gardening into the mix of activities at the Comm.
“I really want to do something with kids when I’m older, so I thought starting a community garden would get them involved and I would be able to incorporate that with healthy eating and “MyPlate,” which is the new food pyramid,” said Kazmierski. “I’ve always been interested in nutrition and healthy eating. I wanted to incorporate what I’m studying in school with the camp.”
MyPlate is a program through The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), an organization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that was established in 1994 to improve the nutrition and well-being of Americans.
Plans for the garden got underway this past winter when Kazmierski sent an email to Wilson to ask for her support.
“She was thrilled about it,” said Kazmierski.
Throughout the spring semester, Kazmierski set the wheels in motion by consulting with her professors about pediatric nutrition and developing lesson plans, and in April, while home on break from college, she solicited donations from vendors such as Creekside Gardens, Corky’s Garden Path and Beichler’s Greenhouse at the Waverly Community House 21st Annual House, Garden and Gift Show.
“They were excited I was getting more people involved in gardening…,” she said.
The first week of June she and Maletta planted the garden that includes tomatoes, a few different varieties of peppers, eggplant, zucchini, strawberries, peas and a few cantaloupes.
Maletta’s sons, Nico, 10, (level three) Antonio, 12, (level four) and Kazmierski’s sister, Annie, 10, (level three) also assisted with the garden, and were the “first kids to kind of get introduced to the garden and help me with ideas.”
Kazmierski works daily with level two campers and meets with other levels every Wednesday.
“I reinforce the garden activities with games such as matching fruits with where they appear on the MyPlate diagram and I answer questions each day about healthy eating choices…,” and she said on July 10, “We did a recipe today using Pascals with orange juice and strawberries…it was a cool snack to make with them.”
Camp director, Alexis Johnson, said of Kazmierski’s focus on nutrition, “…We like to let her show her ability and what she has learned at school and really strive to show the kids in the community what there is to offer. The counselors are interested as well. Brittany has really taken this full force and really has gone above and beyond this summer to show the kids how eating healthy and exercise are important.”
Kazmierski said, “…They (the campers) are all so interested in it that a lot of them actually grow gardens themselves, so I thought this was a way for me to teach them more about it.”
Children in her level lend a hand by helping water the garden.
At the end of this year’s summer camp program, Kazmierski said she hopes to bring the fruits and vegetables to the levels for the children “to sample.”
“The most exciting thing for me is seeing the kids excited about the garden project,” she said.