Print Master Gardeners make kids healthier
Written by Greg Ruland   
Sunday, 19 June 2011 00:00

Two 6-year-old girls, Kelly Gooslin and Anna Taylor, joined several other youngsters at Riverfront Park Community Garden on Friday, June 10, to tend gardens started the previous week as part of Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens’ contribution to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program.

Master Gardener Bobbie Gooslin, center, teaches kids involved in the city of Cottonwood’s Let’s Move program including, from left, Molly Gooslin, 9, Sam Taylor, 8, Claudia Gooslin, 10, Kelly Gooslin, 6, Lorelei Taylor, 2, and Anna Taylor, 6, about simple weed eradication using newspapers at the Cottonwood Community Garden on Friday, June 10.In a red, blue and yellow sun dress, Taylor labored to push a yellow wheelbarrow twice her size from a pile of rotting newspapers to the plot. Gooslin, who pushed her own barrow, led the duo, stopping briefly to wipe a swatch of blond hair from her face with dirty hands, leaving a faint, muddy mark on her forehead.

Children were spreading the old newspapers, which had been wet down with a hose, across the garden, creating what looked like a giant newsprint quilt. The reason, Yavapai County Master Gardener Bobby Gooslin said, was weed control.

Once spread across the garden, the children poked evenly-spaced holes in rows, where flower seeds would soon be planted.

“I’m a flower person,” Gooslin said, red-faced and perspiring in the morning sun. “I just had to have some flowers.”

The flower planting followed the deposit of sunflower seeds in one garden, vegetable seeds in another.

“I think it’s good for them to know where their food comes from,” Anna’s mother, Vada, said.

“They’re seeing something come to life. They’re learning skills they can use later in life,” Gooslin said.

The gardening for kids was just one of several events hosted by the mayor through the year, all part of Cottonwood’s Let’s Move program. For example, Joens hosts an information booth about the program during July 4 festivities in the city.

Obama asked mayors and elected official across the country to join Let’s Move. The program strives to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation, Joens said.

By joining, Cottonwood agreed to help address the challenge locally by adopting a long-term, sustainable approach to fight childhood obesity.

Cottonwood’s spin on the program gets children involved with planting a garden and thinking about fresh food. Moving children away from processed food is a big part of the campaign.

“We’re trying to help children understand how important fresh food is,” said Megann Dastrup, a spokeswoman for Fit Kids Arizona, a group working in the schools to encourage exercise and diet. “A big part of fitness is nutrition. Planting and gardening helps kids be invested in what they eat.”

“The more you expose kids to fruits and vegetables, the more likely they are to eat them,” Joens said.

In Cottonwood, that means community gardening demonstrations, container gardening classes for families and healthy cooking and food preservation classes, Joens said.

Becoming invested in growth and preparation of healthy food lays the groundwork for healthy lifestyles in the future, she said.

For more information, call 634-5526.