Digging around in the dirt isn't just for the big kids any more. Youngsters yearning to become backyard farmers will have a lot of fun and learn something about gardening at Toledo Botanical Garden's summer camp.
After completing eight courses and some community service, a child can become a certified Junior Master Gardener.
The program began June 25 and runs through Aug. 17. Students entering first through fourth grades can sign up for one week or more.
“We hope kids come away from this camp learning more about the world around them,” says Trina Clayborne, education coordinator for Toledo Botanical Garden. “We will give the kids the knowledge and skill to take some of these ideas home and try them even after the program is over. Ev- eryone has soil, and now they will be more aware of how horticulture can assist in their everyday life.”
Members of Toledo Botanical Garden's education department hope to bring this program to a few Toledo schools this fall.
“Most children know about technology today, but not what is around them. It used to be that kids learned how to garden from their parents or grandparents, but since society has changed so much, some of that family teaching has been lost. These are basic skills they will be able to draw from for the rest of their lives,” says Ms. Clayborne
Area groups have pitched in to fund the Junior Master Gardener camps, including the Maumee Valley Herb Society, which donated $1,500, and the Country Garden Club of Perrysburg, which gave $5,000. Other organizations are offering scholarships and volunteering to help during the week.
Handbooks have been donated by the Ohio State University Extension as part of the International Junior Master Gardener Program. As an extension of the Master Gardener Program, it focuses on teaching youngsters about horticulture and environmental science concepts. Program topics include plant growth and development, soil and water, ecology and environmental horticulture, insects and diseases, landscape horticulture, fruits and nuts, vegetables, herbs, and life skills.
“Since this is our first year for an all-day summer camp, we are using the Junior Master Gardener Program as our guide and supplementing the kids' experience with offerings from our local groups,” says Ms. Clayborne.
“This is also the first year we have moved to a full day camp. Many parents have requested it and we are always looking for opportunities to do horticulture and soil-based programs. This program takes teaching and instruction into a fun atmosphere.”
To register for the camp, call the Toledo Botanical Garden at 936-2977. Cost is $100 per child for Toledo Botanical Garden members, and $135 per child for nonmembers. Camp hours are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and students must bring a lunch. Snacks and supplies are provided.
Kelly Heidbreder is The Blade's garden writer. E-mail her at email@example.com.