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Friday, August 8, 2014

Nashua Boys & Girls Club members learn value of healthy eating by tending a garden

The hobbyist farmers at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua are busy harvesting myriad summer vegetables.

An area outside the club’s front door has been developed with raised garden beds, courtesy of efforts from Fidelity Investments, that provide several benefits to the club’s kids. ...

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The hobbyist farmers at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua are busy harvesting myriad summer vegetables.

An area outside the club’s front door has been developed with raised garden beds, courtesy of efforts from Fidelity Investments, that provide several benefits to the club’s kids.

“Fidelity employees approached us and asked us to come up with a couple of transformation projects,” said club director Norm Bouthilette. “One of them we thought was critical to helping enhance our healthy lifestyles and supplement our food and nutrition program and daily meals was to develop a garden which the kids would oversee and nurture.”

The beds are now full of mature plants and plump vegetables.

Charles Collinson, education director for the club, said the crops include several types of sweet peppers, honeydew melons, watermelons, pumpkins, radishes, four types of tomatoes and sunflowers.

“Don’t touch the hot peppers, they’re very, very hot,” Collinson said. “As you can see our cucumbers are going wild,” he said while walking through the gardens recently.

On Wednesday, Collinson taught a group of club kids how to pick vegetables that were fully grown.

A boy carried a basket full of peppers and tomatoes, and a group worked together to apply lime to tomato plants growing in one of the raised beds.

The food will go back in to the club’s food program, providing healthy and home-grown treats for their snacks and salads.

“We started a leadership club around the concept of developing a vegetable garden for the boys and girls club kids and their families. They learn about what they’re growing and it’s nutritional value so they can make healthy choices as they mature into adults,” Bouthilette said.

Bouthilette said that the group of farmers totaled about 30 kids that worked regularly in the gardens.

Also, the space has the added benefit of providing a quiet spot for reflection and conversation.

“They learn about what their growing and it’s nutritional value so they can make healthy choices as they mature into adults, understanding the benefits of having vegetables and maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

Plus, Bouthiette said, the work provides a “phenomenal educational benefit that gets the kids outside to benefit nature.”

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Himsel on Twitter (@Telegraph_DonH).