HANDS (Helping Area Needs for Diverse Services) of Wyoming County is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality and availability of early care and education in Wyoming County. This is done through implementing planning strategies, supporting growth and development of high quality early child care, and making sure early child care staff are well trained and informed with the latest information about the care of children. HANDS also advocates for early education by informing policymakers and the community about current issues, challenges and opportunities surrounding early care and education.
Would you be interested in donating materials or funds to expand the Educator/Parent Resource Lab? Would you be interested in helping to provide special programs to children and families in Wyoming County? Could you spare some of your time to help out at the Center with projects or programs?
All donations are tax exempt. A copy of HANDS 501(c) 3 exemption papers are available upon request.
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HANDS of Wyoming County was awarded a grant by the Wyoming County United Way last year to start a new school garden. The project exceeded expectations in community involvement, education, accessibility to vegetables, and family health and wellness.
The success of the 2019 inaugural growing season can be credited to a newly formed garden committee consisting of preschools teachers, local farmers, parent volunteers, retired teachers, and HANDS staff. The Tunkhannock Area 7th Grade Stem Academy collaborated with the project by designing, constructing, and delivering raised garden beds. Local farmers led support in arranging the raised garden beds, advised in the planting of vegetables, and graciously donating fertilized soil.
During the 2020 growing season, fruit trees and bushes were planted. Along side the garden fence are an array of apple and pear trees with raspberry and blue berry bushes not far away. The new editions are expected to produce fruit the next growing season.
During the school year, Pre-K teachers, Head Start, and Early Intervention classrooms explored the space while teachers created lesson plans around the science of gardening. The care of the garden during the summer months was passed onto the children attending FANS (Fitness, Activity, Nutrition, and Success) Camp. Maintaining the garden throughout the entire garden season was organized by volunteers and HANDS staff.
The school garden consists of five raised garden beds in a fenced in area. Two beds are classified as digging gardens where children planted carrots, radishes, potatoes, and onions. The beds with trellises are used for climbing vegetables such as beans and cucumbers. The horseshoe shaped garden bed provided lettuce and other ingredients for a salad. Finally, a small pumpkin patch was included in the fenced in space.
The school garden required a significant investment in the early planning stages because a large area surrounding the garden required a fence to protect the space. The Wyoming County United Way has partnered with HANDS over the past decade in supporting many related endeavors around early childhood education and continued with funding the garden project. In sustaining the garden over time, additional funding was received from PA Pre-K Counts, Tunkhannock Rotary, Wyoming County Master Gardeners, and independent donations earmarked for the Wyoming County Family Resource Center.