By Vicki Matsumonji, White Mountain Community Garden
White Mountain Community Garden closed out the second year of Junior Master Gardener Classes held every Saturday (8-10AM), the month of July. WMCG and University of Arizona, Navajo County Extension sponsored the 4 week project teaching children ages 6-12 the basics of gardening.
Classes were filled with a curriculum of gardening activities, crafts and healthy snacks. The beginning of each class started with a song about gardening led by member, Linda Hoy and her friend, Barbara Courtright, on guitar. After each song, the children had a short discussion of how caring for the earth brings us healthy food from the garden.
Week 1 introduced children to beans as they sprout and grow. They also studied the root system of a bean growing in a plexiglass planter. Week 2 covered various soils and the benefits of composting. They created compost from vegetable scraps and learned how worms provide wonderful fertilizer from eating kitchen scraps. Week 3 covered insects: the good, the bad and the ugly including a trip throughout the garden to find and identify them. Week 4 covered pollinators and ended with a scavenger hunt to find various pollinating insects as well as plant items throughout the garden. Each class had a time to make craft items pertaining to gardening and had a variety of healthy snacks to eat.
Member, Sandra Murray, developed the concept of teaching children in the community about gardening and Brenda Thompson, also a WMCG member and on staff of the University of Arizona, Navajo County Extension Office in Lakeside provided co-sponsorship and funding for the project.
This year’s program saw increased enrollment as well as keen interest from the parents. Studies show that when children learn about gardening, they tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.
The White Mountain Community Garden is located at 600 N. 9th Place in Show Low (adjacent to Navajo County Health Complex). For more information about upcoming events and opportunities at the Garden, please visit www.wmcgarden.org or call Mary Alice Vertz at 602-810-8175.