Petersburg Pilot -

Sprouts gardening program starts Monday


Christina Sargent / Submitted Photo

Participants of the Sprouts Summer Gardening Program take time to inspect and play with fruit.

The first of two sessions for the Sprouts Summer Gardening Program will begin Monday at the garden behind the elementary school.

This will be the third summer overseeing the program for Christina Sargent, who typically has around five kids participate. Sargent says limiting the group to a total of 10 allows her to maintain safety for the kids and garden.

"The kids do get really enthusiastic about being in the garden they want to know, can I pull this, is this a weed, can I eat this, can I try this?" she says. "So smaller groups are better."

The program operates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for an hour and a half starting at 9:30 to 11 a.m. There will be two five-week sessions, with the first starting Monday, and it will be open to all ages.

The second session starts Aug. 3, and runs right up until school starts.

Participants must be able to read, preferably third grade or higher. New to the program this year, in the second session, is the opportunity for kids to receive a certificate for being a junior master gardener. The only catch is they have to complete a workbook with lessons about plants, animals, insects and the environment.

"It's really fun to see them excited about growing things and learning where their food comes from," Sargent says. "I've always liked gardening. I kind up grew up around a garden with my grandmother and mother, so it's fun to pass on those traditions."

One of the previous participants of the program is now in middle school and her family recently constructed a green house because she is so motivated to garden at home, which means Sargent must be doing something right.

"Usually I try to have the kids plan their own mini-garden," Sargent says. "We talk about the different options about what might grow, have seeds for, what they like to eat."

For instance, dill is a popular plant to match with others. The flowers of dill plants attract pollinators, and the scent also repels predatory wasps.

The kids get a section of the garden or a large barrel pot to plant their mini-garden. Some gardens see fast results and others have to wait until school is back in session. Plants that only take five weeks to show results like lettuces and radishes are an option, but something like broccoli would take the summer to mature.

Participants get their hands dirty and work with child-sized tools that could be found in any garden, and much of the work is done with small hand tools.

For information about either session contact Christina Sargent at 907-360-7313.


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