Grow Box Gets Kids Growing — Fall Vegetables, That Is

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Original story was written by Dee Shore.

Family life tends to run in constant motion — errands to finish, school work to complete, sports and hobbies to enjoy. The hectic pace that comes with children can make it hard to slow down, spend time with each other and celebrate cherished relationships. Enter the Grow Box.

The Grow Box is an NC State University program that sends hands-on agriculture projects directly to families and contains everything a parent and child need to start exploring the world of plants, bugs and soils together. One hundred boxes, costing $30 each, were sent to families in 32 North Carolina counties.

Liz Driscoll, a 4-H specialist with NC State Extension, and Elizabeth Overcash, the children’s program coordinator with the JC Raulston Arboretum, came up with the idea.

“With the pandemic bringing a pause on in-person programming we wondered how we could continue to support families in their garden discoveries,” Driscoll said. “Research surveys suggest that daily screen time has increased with virtual education and recreation demands, so the Grow Box provides a platform to step away from electronic devices and drives youth to investigate the outdoors.”

Driscoll and Overcash also wanted to continue to nurture the relationship between families to the arboretum and local 4-H programs. The Grow Box supports families already involved in 4-H and with the JCRA, and it also invites new families to understand how the two organizations nurture positive youth development.

With support from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agricultural Foundation’s Innovation Grant, the two started with some seed money to craft the first Grow Box on fall vegetable gardening. Mailed out in September, the box had veggie and herb transplants, seeds, gardening gloves, a trowel and an activity magazine that had everything a family needs to get growing.