Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Master Gardens and 4-H Team Up for Youth Garden Club

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener

Planting the Seeds of Gardening
Franklin County 4-H Youth Start Garden Club

Chambersburg, PA – Although Michelle Obama’s White House garden gets a lot of media attention, it’s the growth of local and community gardens that have an impact IRL (in real life). This year 4-H of Franklin County is starting a Garden Club.
Franklin County is considered the No. 4 farm county in the state and earns more than $300 million annually in agricultural sales. With the farming community all around, many are inspired to learn about gardening and have gardens of their own.

Last year, Master Gardener Jessica Kauffman was asked if there was a junior Master Gardener program. While there is no Master Gardener program for youths, Kauffman’s inquiries planted the seed for a 4-H Garden Club.

The first organizational meeting will be held on March 27 at 6:30 PM at the Ag Heritage Building at 185 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg. Meetings will be held weekly on Thursday evenings.

“The … Garden Club is a great opportunity for children ages 8-18 in the community to learn all aspects of gardening,” said Jason Goetz, Extension Educator in the 4-H Youth Development Team.  Like other 4-H Clubs, he said, they will also learn “skills that will allow them to succeed in society.”
The Master Gardeners of Penn State Extension, Franklin County and the 4-H club are teaming up with Kauffman and Carol Kagan as club leaders. Other Master Gardeners will share their expertise as well. The club will have a garden at the Ag Heritage Center gardens on Franklin Farm Road.

In past years Master Gardeners partnered with the 4-H Harvest 4-Health and Kids Learning After School (KLAS) programs, helping establish a vegetable garden at Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School in Chambersburg. This is a local effort to teach the newest generation about growing fresh, nutritious food, much like the White House garden.

Students at Thaddeus Stevens do spring planting (Photo: Public Opinion)
Donna Scherer, Master Gardener Coordinator said, “It’s important that we reach out to our youth to connect them to where their food comes from and to empower them with the ability to grow their own food.”
For the 2014 year, the Garden Club will focus on Vegetable Gardening. Youth will have the opportunity to grow vegetables on the Ag Heritage grounds during the regular growing season. They will also have support and resources for any home-based vegetable gardens.

Club members will learn about gardening from planning what to plant through how to harvest and use the vegetables they grow. Along the way to harvest, they will learn about the life-cycle of plants, what they need to grow, and how to care for them to get a good harvest.
“I'm so excited to be a part of the new 4-H garden club! Kids seem to have an innate curiosity and excitement about nature,” said Kauffman, adding “I'm sure it will add to the energy at club meetings.”

In order to fund the Garden Club, 4-H is offering strawberry plants at $7 (incl. tax) for a bundle of 25. Varieties available include Earliglow, Honeoye, Northeaster, Allstar, Jewel, Cabot, Montery (day neutral plants).
Perhaps the White House could use a few more strawberry plants for their garden.

For more information about the club, becoming a member or to order strawberries call the Penn State Extension office at 717-263-9226.
For more information about this program contact:
Jason Goetz, 4-H  Youth Development Educator- or 717-263-9226
Donna Scherer, Master Garden Coordinator- or 717-263-9226

To be added to the e-mail event schedule list, please call 717-263-9226.

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