The Carman Garden Club is excited to be running another junior garden program this year and interested gardeners are asked to register via email or in person April 10 from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Homestead Co-op in Carman.
“There is four levels in the club for the most part and we did add a fifth one year because we had kids that went through all four levels,” said Charlene Veenendaal, coordinator of the junior club with the Carman Garden Club. “Every year there is a different variety of seeds for gardeners and those would increase each year in variety and in difficulty. Then at the end of the summer, the Carman Garden Club does a flower show, and there is a portion in there that is strictly for the junior gardeners.”
The junior garden program isn’t that big of a commitment from young potential green thumbs, as the $5 registration fee gets all the seeds and plants the youngsters will need to get started. There are four tentative meeting dates scheduled for the juniors. May 9 is scheduled as plant pickup and a do it yourself greenhouse instructions, June 11 is a bee demonstration with a local apiarist and build a bee house instructional, July 16 is the Garden Show and Garden Tour prep, while August 8 is the Garden Show.
“The show gives the kids an opportunity to share what they have grown, see what others have grown, and it is a competition so there is a cash prize for the kids just like there are for the adult gardeners,” said Veenendaal. “The club is meant to be for the kids to have fun and get out in the garden, and learn to love the garden. If a child can’t make one of the meetings it’s not the end of the world.”
Gardeners will be required to get dirty at their own house, the community garden, or a family members yard, wherever a plant can flourish. First-year gardeners enter in level 1 no matter the age. Even if a nine-year-old started for the first time this year they would go at level 1, or the entry level.
“They’ll grow flowers and some vegetables,” she said. “The first year has the basics like carrots, beans, and marigolds, and as kids get on they add things like lettuce, celery and other things that may be a little more difficult.”
Juniors’ gardens don’t need to be large. It can even be in several spaces around the yard or at a relative’s. It can be grown in pots or the ground as it’s meant to be fun and not something parents feel takes up a lot of the yard or time.
“We give kids the tools to get things going but they get to feel independent at the same time,” said Veenendaal. “We’ll start with seeding at our first meeting, give the kids some information to help when they’re at home. They can get the plants in the ground.
The groups second meeting will give gardeners a chance to ask some questions about their gardens, or receive tips from fellow club members.
“Gardening is not something kids are learning in school and not all kids are into sports,” she added. “It’s a way for us to get out and teach the kids about gardens, where our food comes from, the different bugs involved, and it’s also something to bridge the generation gap. At our meeting in June, there will be some adult gardeners there so they’ll have an opportunity to meet each other.”
Veenendaal adds gardening can be calming and therapeutic and could definitely fill a need for some kids in the community.
For more information, contact Charlene at email@example.com or drop by the in-person registration day on April 10 from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Homestead Co-op.