2010-08-19 / Front Page

Community Education class sprouts young gardeners

By Dawn Timbs, Staples World reporter

Young people in the Staples area this summer had the chance to participate in a Jr. Master Gardener’s class at Living Legacy Gardens.

The class was sponsored by Staples Motley Community Education; and was open to kids in grades K - sixth.

Mary Vogel worked with the youngest kids; along with Marge Meyer, Donalee Butler and Becky Roelofs working with the oldest children.

“Becky has been in charge this summer now that Shirley Judd has retired,” Butler said. “She is the go-to person and is doing a fantastic job.”

The junior gardeners met every other Wednesday beginning in June.

“This year we’ve had three raised beds that students have taken care of,” Butler said. “They planted seeds, maintained the plants and now are harvesting the vegetables.”

The classes have been more community service oriented as well, Butler said, explaining that they’ve given the young people extra chores this year.

“Students have been learning to put

mulch down; they’re doing more weeding,

thinning out the chives,” Roelofs added. “Some of our flowers had overgrown, so

the kids pulled them apart and were able to take some home.”

The class is now in its 10th year, Butler said.

Nine-year-old Olivia Kruchten has enjoyed the class at Living Legacy Gardens she said.

Although she is fairly new to this area, she’s been gardening ‘for quite awhile’ Olivia said. “I grew up in Florida and started gardening there when I was about six or seven years old,” she shared.

Gardening techniques are similar in both Minnesota and Florida, Olivia said; but she’s noticed that there seem to be more sunflowers in Florida. “I think that might be because it stays hotter there for a long time.”

Isabella Martin, eight, and her brother Hunter, six, have also enjoyed the gardening class. Their grandmother, Marge Mammenga, often accompanies them and assists with the class.

The Martin kids said they’ve enjoyed growing sunflowers and day lilies.

“I like getting dirty in the garden, too,” Hunter said.

This summer, students have harvested a number of vegetables including beets, tomatoes, peas, beans, radishes, cabbage, onions and zucchini.

“The carrots aren’t quite ready, but they’ve been able to take quite a few vegetables home,” Butler said.

Olivia, Isabella and Hunter said they learned that slugs are a bad thing to find in a garden.

“They will put holes in the cabbage,” Olivia said. “But if you keep the weeds away from the garden, they (slugs) will stay away.”

The students have also planted a

number of flowers, including marigolds. “Most things they have started from seed,”

Butler said.

Once things freeze, Butler said, the instructors clean up and compost everything at the gardens.

“When we come back next spring, it will all be just black dirt,” Roelofs added.

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