By Jordan Corona
The Heart of Texas Urban Gardening Coalition and the Baylor Community Garden will host its first Junior Master Gardener Club meeting the week after spring break.
The children’s gardening club is a six-week program and is open to school-aged children, K-fifth grades, and costs $50 per child.
The club has separate meetings, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, distinguished by participant’s grade groups. Campus Kitchen will help with snack time.
The Baylor Community Garden, which is at the corner of Ninth and James streets, will be open to all children in the community.
“It’s geared for kids so it concentrates on ideas like ecology, environmental science, plant life and even social action,” said Elizabeth Ross, club instructor and Urban Gardening Coalition event coordinator.
Junior Master Gardener Clubs across the state function in association with a national network of gardeners who participate with the Master Gardeners Program curricula.
“The children’s program is based on the Master Gardener curricula but it’s patterned after the Boy Scouts — emphasizing ideas like leadership and community service,” said Karin Wallace, administrative assistant at the national program based out of Bryan-College Station.
Together with the World Hunger Relief Farm, the gardening coalition supports after-school gardening programs at seven schools in and around Waco.
This club is open to everyone, particularly for those students who are interested but don’t attend schools with an after school program.
“We want to make garden education available to all kids regardless of where they go to school,” Ross said.
Lucas and Sarah Land homeschool their children in Waco. Occasionally, that means spending time with other homeschoolers in the community to share learning together.
“My kids are still picky eaters,” Mr. Land said. “But I’ve seen them eat things out of the garden they would never touch on a plate.”
The Lands are planning to enroll their oldest son, Asher, in the Junior Master Gardener’s Club this spring.
“I believe very strongly that part of the reason we’re in the mess we are, ecologically speaking, is that we think we’re somehow separate from nature,” Mr. Land said. “I want my kids to notice the eggs we are having for breakfast come from the chicken we have in our backyard.”
Throughout the six-weeks course curriculum, children will learn to seed, transplant and care for plants. Ross said she wants to make sure children in the club have a more full understanding of gardening.
“If we study photosynthesis, we’ll look at leaves, and then have a salad for snack made with lettuce from the garden,” she said. “That way the kids will see just as the sun provides for the plants, the plants provide for us.”
Douglas Nesmith, coordinator of environmental science laboratory, began advising student groups on the campus community garden when the first beds were plotted three years ago.
“Very few people understand what goes into producing their food,” he said. “Most kids don’t realize the potential of community gardens, home gardens or what can produced locally.”
For now, Ross said she is looking forward to the club meetings.
“For kids, the world is very big and full of wonder,” Ross said. “It’s so much fun to see their faces when you pull a carrot out of the ground.”