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                                    YMCA Community Garden

                                       Kids in the YMCA Gardens

Website: ymcawnc.org, find us on facebook too!

Describe what your organization does, especially the main issue or problems it addresses (your mission or goals):

Youth Fit for Life (YFFL) is a 12-week physical activity and nutrition program for elementary school youth with the goal of preventing childhood obesity. Since its inception in Buncombe County, elementary school youth have seen an increase in voluntary physical activity, strength, and flexibility. In 2010, Youth Fit for Life expanded to eighteen afterschool sites and will be included in the YMCA's summer camp. Childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past 30 years and is still rising. Nutrition and physical activity education for youth are critical. The YMCA Community Garden is an expansion upon YFFL, aiming to educate youth about the importance of healthy eating and active lifestyles through experiential learning.

Aligning with the three focus areas of the YMCA, the YMCA Youth Garden promotes healthy living, social responsibility, and youth development. During the school year, youth in afterschool at the Youth Services Center (YCS) will plan, cultivate and maintain the garden. Meeting 1 to 2 times per week, the 40 youth attending will gain skills in organic gardening and learn about the importance of a nutritious diet, physical activity, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. The YMCA also holds summer camp at the YSC summer months. Engaging in educational activities twice weekly, 120 campers at the YSC will maintain the garden. Half of the produce grown will be donated to the Manna Food Bank to provide fresh, local vegetables to those in need. The other portion will be used for cooking lessons and for the kids to take home along with family-friendly recipes. Though the garden is youth focused, we want to invite community members to learn with us as the garden grows. Community work days will be held each month open to YMCA members and the greater Asheville-Buncombe community. By working with youth and community members from all across Asheville and Buncombe County, more people will have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, learn about the importance of a balanced diet, foster environmental stewardship and social responsibility and spend time being physically active.

                               Kids in the YMCA Gardens

What types of service-learning opportunities do you have for students:

The opportunities available can vary depending on each students commitment or eagerness to be involved in the program. The most common needs in the Garden are helping with the upkeep, planting, weeding, mulching ect (ie Garden Manual labor). Students could also assist during times when youth are working in the garden, and be a part of those experiential teaching opportunities, this could involve working one-on-one with youth or facilitating a whole group activity.

How do you envision students learning and growing from their involvement? Can you envision any ties to their academic work (for example, will they work on a problem related to issues they might study in their classes):

This program is the direct applied manifestation of many academic subjects: Nutrition, Fitness, Outdoor Experiential Education, Sustainable Development and Community Development, Non-Profit Business, Early Childhood development, Permaculture and Botany.

Will you train students? Supervise them? If so, please explain how:

Yes, we have Garden Staff who will always be on hand to train and assist on an ongoing basis, catering to the needs of each individual student.

Scheduling could be an important issue. Please note the available times students could work with your organization (e.g., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday-Friday):

Day-light hours

UNCA has a new academic honor called Community Engaged Scholars in which students complete a Public Service Project. Those projects sometimes involve research requested by the community. Likewise, the university has Service- Learning Designated Courses, and sometimes in those courses professors are looking for research projects for their students.

If you have such a research question(s) that a student or class could help you with, write it (them) here:

yes, we are always looking to improve our research methods in order to better show the results of the garden's impact of individual students and the community as a whole.

Kids in the YMCA Gardens

To get involved, please contact:

Abby Smith
Youth Development Coordinator

YMCA - Youth Fit For Life, Community Garden
30 Woodfin Street


Read more about how you can work with the YMCA by clicking on this web link to or One time Service Opportunities page.