Creating New Roots, Harvesting More than Vegetables

Picture a well-kept garden. Clean walking paths guide you through the flourishing plots of colorful fruits and vegetables growing weed free. This is something you expect from experienced gardeners, right?

Think again! It’s run by Gateway Greening’s City Seeds Program and it’s one of the best urban gardens I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a beautiful view of the Arch too! Interning with them this past fall I’ve had the opportunity to set aside the clinical aspect most dietetic interns focus on and create new roots, where I’ve harvested more than vegetables.

The last few weeks at Gateway Greening have been such a great learning experience! Never did I imagine that while completing my dietetic internship I would be planting trees, harvesting vegetables, and turning compost, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! Gateway Greening’s goal is simple: to provide St. Louis with a fun, safe, and educational environment for people to learn… and that’s just the experience I got!

Coming to Gateway Greening with little gardening or agriculture experience, I’m surprised they trusted me with a shovel and shears, but on my first day they had me step right in and get my hands dirty. I truly believe in the Chinese Proverb, “involve me and I’ll understand,” and because Gateway Greening practices this proverb, I was able to green my thumb and create new roots of knowledge for my future career.

We are much more willing to try new foods when we are involved in the process, so using this opportunity to teach job skills and nutrition from the ground up only makes sense. Not everyone has the privilege of knowing the life cycle of a sweet potato or how to plant and harvest squash, so utilizing urban areas to accomplish these goals in my eyes is very beneficial.

Gardens offer opportunities for fun and physical activity while serving as an important educational tool to help others understand how healthy food is produced. It also provides an experiential learning setting, especially one in which we have direct, hands-on experience and can build new knowledge, skills, and values.

While I came in with a nutrition background knowing little about plants and vegetation, I can now say I have a better understanding of sustainable urban gardening and have learned proper gardening techniques that I will last a lifetime. What a fun and meaningful experience!

Megan Haeberlin

Fontbonne University Dietetic Intern