Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Winter School 2013 Report - Part II - Youth Gardening

Most of us are not very far from the farm.  Several of our speakers at Winter School related stories of their parents' or grandparents' farms and how they grew up either on the farm or visiting it regularly.  My own story is the same:  my father grew up on a farm, although by the time I came along they had moved to the city.  My maternal grandparents both grew up farming and, though they lived in the city, they had a large vegetable and flower garden.  I loved to go to the garden with my grandfather and "help!"

A lot of us had the same exposure, but times have changed as there are fewer family farms and more suburbs.  Now those of us who trace our love of gardening back to our childhoods have an opportunity to instill that same love in the children around us.  In "Growing a Garden Club," Emily Gonzalez gave us some basic information.  This presentation was not geared toward children.  Its purpose was to provide us Master Gardeners with goals, objectives, and talking points when we're talking with adults who are thinking about working with children in a garden.

The goals of Emily's presentation:

  1. Discuss the benefits of youth gardening
  2. Discuss gardening concepts for the youth gardener
  3. Describe how to conduct a school garden program
Her objectives:
  1. List 3 benefits of youth gardening
  2. List 3 key gardening concepts for the youth gardener to understand
  3. List 4 steps involved with conducting a youth gardening project
In addition to this discussion, Emily demonstrated a simple experiment that helps children understand about soil and light.  In three containers, she had three different soils: sand, loam, and clay.  Which soil would support the best plants?  Loam, we said.  We'll just have to see, said Emily.  She described how the children would plant seeds in each container and then keep records of the growing progress.  Further, they would plant two other sets of containers and expose each set to different amounts of direct indoor light:  0-3 hours, 3-6 hours, 6 hours or more.  Again, the children would record the results and arrive at their own conclusions.

The main thing with children is hands-on engagement.  They want to touch, see, feel.  That's why working directly in an outdoor garden is ideal.

Aren't we so fortunate to live in an internet world!  There are tons of resources out there, from blogs and articles by people who are already working with children to complete lesson plans from educational and scientific institutions.  Emily told us that a great source is NASA.  Check out this lesson on Light Effects on Plant Behavior!

So add this presentation to your speakers' bureau.  As individual organizations, we can reach only so many children.  But if we inspire, encourage, and empower other adults, we can really impact our communities.

Emily Gonzalez
Extension Agent, UT/TSU Knox County Extension  egonzale@Tnstate.edu

Hands On Youth Gardening Activities.
Gardening with youth can be a fun and rewarding way to introduce new ideas to youth while reinforcing science concepts. The garden is a natural setting for learning that incorporates concepts of plant growth and  photosynthesis, soil properties, insect habitat, identification and interaction within the garden environment and weather, among others.  This session will address some of these concepts, introduce related activities and discuss how to incorporate them into your youth gardening sessions.  For those who have never started a youth garden but would like to try one, this session will also provide an outline for that process.

Tomorrow:  Growing Vegetables in Containers

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated and will appear as soon as they are approved.