Kids Get a Lesson in Cultivating the Land

With a little work and care, what today is merely seedling and dirt will soon bear fruit.

That was the lesson for preschoolers at San Fernando Gardens housing complex who took part Friday in "Ag in a Classroom," an educational program led by the San Fernando Valley Fair. For this particular group of children, the fruits of their labor will be strawberries.

"For some of these kids, you ask them, 'Where do strawberries come from?' and they say, 'The market,' " said fair chairman David Honda. "We started this program last year because we feel that it's important to introduce children to agriculture at a young age."

With that in mind, the 3- to 5-year-olds got busy planting their own seedlings in terra cotta pots. The youngsters will show off their plants in June at the Valley Fair.

"If the kids can put their hands in the dirt and play with water, they love that," said Karen Pinedo, a supervisor at the San Fernando Gardens' child-care program, which is operated by the Los Angeles Childcare and Development Council.

"There's not much agriculture in the Valley anymore, so it's very important for them to see this process," Pinedo said.

During the next three months, the students will be responsible for the care and nurturing of their strawberry plants, Honda said, helping them to develop skills that will carry over into other areas of their lives.

"The kids love strawberries. Our main concern is that they will want to eat them when they are still green," Honda said. "We told them they have to wait until after the fair and then they can eat them."

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