POSTED: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 9:31pm
UPDATED: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 10:36pm
EL PASO — A youth community garden plants the seeds of awareness for childhood obesity and the benefits of outdoor gardening. News Channel 9 headed over to their open house Friday morning at Ascarate Park.
El Paso can thank volunteers and employees working with the County and Texas A & M Agrilife Extension Service for the produce and green education this community garden has harvested. But the fruit of the program also came from a special participating group.
It's become a turning point for the troubled juveniles on probation enrolled in the county's “Challenge” program intended to reduce their risk of criminal offenses. Richie Romero is one of them.
"Before I used to just be in trouble, be inside the house all day playing games,” he said. “Now I just go outside in the back, water the plants and stay outside all day."
Roger Martinez, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer of El Paso said he's already seen the effect of the outdoor project.
"It's great beacause they’re gardening as a family now not just the kids,” he said. “The parents come out, the brothers and sisters they pick a lot of tomatoes, make a lot of salsa.”
More than just chile picking, it's an epiphany of giving back for young Romero.
“Finally I do something right,” he said.
The garden also gives kids a good reason to get dirty. Inez Burcham, an agent for Agrilife noted child participants received the program very well.
"They've really enjoyed it, and they've gotten a chance to taste what comes from the garden,” said Burcham. “They're like 'hey, this is really not bad' and you know when we do the work ourselves, we really appreciate it that much more"
Children who have helped out are actually willingly eating their veggies.