The Harvest is the Best Teacher: A Narrative on Food Insecurity and Community Gardening with Children and Adolescents

  • Gayle Mallinger Western Kentucky University
  • Molly Kerby Western Kentucky University
Keywords: community, youth education, child welfare, health


As the national climate and attitudes toward local organic food progressed in the United States, farmers markets, school and community gardens, and campaigns to increase vegetable consumption among children and adolescents skyrocketed. Unfortunately, many communities are beginning to realize disparities exist in poverty-stricken neighborhoods in term of access to fresh produce, education, and food programs This narrative follows a community garden project over three years at the Boys & Girls Club in a semi-rural city in Kentucky. Participants prepared the garden site, planted seeds, and harvested vegetables as part of a Junior Master Gardener program in the afterschool and summer programs.

Author Biographies

Gayle Mallinger, Western Kentucky University

Dr. Gayle Mallinger is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work at Western Kentucky University. She primarily teaches in the bachelor of social work program. Her research currently focuses on issues surrounding environmental, social and economic justice, and teaching practices that promote policy advocacy and effective practice with diverse populations.

Molly Kerby, Western Kentucky University

Dr. Molly Kerby is an associate professor in the Department of Diversity & Community Studies at Western Kentucky University. She teaches in the gender & women’s studies program and is a faculty member in the new Masters of Arts in Social Responsibility and Sustainable Communities (SRSC) degree program. Her current research interests focus primarily on issues pertaining to sense of place, food justice & politics, social policy, community-based research, women/gender/sexuality, and sustainability.