Johnson County Community College

Photo of children tasting produce from the Children's Garden

The Hiersteiner Child Development Center (HCDC) Children’s Garden was established in 2007 by Associate Professor of Hospitality Management, David A. Smith. “Farmer Dave,” as he is known to the children ages 2 ½ to 6, oversees a farm-to-table experience for them each week. The children watch seeds being planted, produce harvested and then made into fresh, healthy foods such as minestrone soup and pizza with fresh produce toppings. The Children’s Garden itself is grown in a hoophouse; the UV plastic covering keeps the temperature warm enough in the winter for a fourth growing season, or it can be rolled up for ventilation in the summer. In April 2010, 20 fruit trees from plum to gooseberry – which were funded by the Student Sustainability Committee – were added to the bounty. The benefits of the Children’s Garden are many: Not only are the children learning about where food comes from, but also that vegetables are fun and tasty, hopefully enticing them to adopt healthy eating habits as they grow.