Base Logo
Official U.S. Marine Corps Website
Crossroads of the Marine Corps
Photo Information

Children from the Exceptional Family Member Program shared some laughs after they learned how to make their own portable planting containers.

Photo by Photo by Jeremy Beale

Families come together to share Giggles in the Garden

8 Aug 2017 | Jeremy Beale/Staff Writer Marine Corps Base Quantico

Children of the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) were welcomed to Barnett Field Pavilion July 28 to participate in the Giggles in the Garden event meant to teach children the fun and nutritional value of cultivating their own food.

EFMP welcomed Master Gardner Sherry Graham to speak with the children about the whimsy of growing their own gardens and all the fun they could have.

“I developed a love for planting at a very young age because I grew up playing and planting plants in my grandparents’ vegetable garden,” Graham said. “I remember their garden stretched as far as my little eyes could see—we had tomatoes, snow peas, jalapenos, melons, cantaloupes, potatoes and all types of yummy food.”

As Graham told stories of the caterpillars, bees and butterflies that would come and help her plants grow, she taught the children how to start to grow their own plants.

The children learned how to place the soil into recyclable containers and how to seed and make irrigation holes to allow for healthy water flow. But, more importantly, they learned how to make the garden their own.

“The hardest thing to teach children about planting is patience as most children want to see immediate growth,” Graham said. “But, if parents can make the process more interactive then children are more inclined to take an interest.”

Graham brought her fairy gardens, filled with fairies and gnomes, to show the children that they can make their own little worlds as their gardens grow around them.

“Children can host tea parties with their dolls and fairy princesses as their own little wonderland grows around them or they can place their G.I. Joe’s and action figures in the soil as their own little battleground,” Graham said. “Allow your children to imagine experiencing the whimsy of gardening by allowing them to create a world within the world they live.”

According to Graham, children are more apt to learn something if they experience it themselves. Children can learn about the intricate process of life—how light, water, air and nurturance are all important necessities to life.

Graham also believes that planting allows for children to heighten their senses.

“Gardening not only teaches children the importance of life and nutrition, but the intricacies that come with it,” Graham said. “Each plant and vegetable looks, feels smells and tastes differently—allow the children to feel the fuzzy and rough textures, smell the different aromas and taste various fruits and vegetables they grow. For some children who do not have the capability to do certain things, a small thing such as this could change their world.”

EFMP also partnered with the Semper Fit to teach parents and children the importance of eating healthy and offer alternatives for parents to get children to try new foods.

Semper Fit Dietician Lauren King taught kids how to make eating their food fun—by playing with it.

As most parents would cringe at the idea of their children playing with their food, King showed the families in attendance that parents can make fun animals such as a snake or pretty plants such as flowers to encourage children to try new foods because they will look more appetizing.

“The hardest thing about getting children to try new foods is making them look appetizing,” King said. “As kids will develop different eating habits over time, it is important the parents not to stop trying to get their kids to try healthier foods, but to try them in different ways.”

One common thing all the kids shared in was their love for pizza.

King helped the children and parents understand how plants they grow in their gardens could be used to create one of their favorite foods.

Nevertheless, as parents and their children shared Giggles in the Garden, they learned how to take their fruits and vegetables from the garden and into the kitchen.

The Marine Corps Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) is a mandatory program under MCO 1754.4B for Marines with family members with exceptional needs. The primary purpose of the EFMP is to ensure the continuum of care for eligible family members by identifying families with special needs and maximizing the provision of medical, educational, and local services. MCB Quantico EFMP is the East Coast Regional Office, which provides family support services at Marine Corps Base Quantico as well as in Europe, Africa, Marines stationed on I&I and Special Duty East of the Mississippi.

Marine Corps Base Quantico