Sowing Seeds in Youth Horticulture
On Monday March 8, Smithfield Hog Production Division, Clinton City Schools, Clinton City Schools’ Child and Nutrition Department, Sampson Community College Small Business Center, Sampson County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers, and the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Service partnered at the LC Kerr elementary school to assist the students in planting their spring raised bed gardens. This is the third year of gardening instruction at LC Kerr elementary school, a program where the teachers relate the school’s academic curriculum to the gardening project. LC Kerr teachers reserved a 30 minute session with their students and participate in weeding, planting, discussion, and general care of the raised bed gardens. The students began by pulling weeds and learning to identify weeds such as annual bluegrass, woodsorrel, white clover, and henbit. They placed these weeds into their compost bins, which will be composted and used at a later time to amend the soil in the beds. Once the weeding was completed, the students discussed seed potatoes. They were able to touch and smell the potato seeds and describe what they were feeling and smelling. The also learned that one potato seed will produce several potatoes, and that is dependent upon weather and nutrients. They then learned the correct spacing and depth to plant the potato seeds and planted the potatoes. The students then learned to plant sugar peas and learned that these seeds were much smaller than the potato seed. They again learned about spacing and seeding depths for sugar peas and planted the peas. Lastly the students learned the difference between planting and broadcasting seed. They broadcasted mustard, radishes, and spinach by sprinkling the seeds across the beds and lightly incorporating them into the soil.
In the upcoming weeks the students will make observations in the gardens and write journal entries on their observations. They will ensure the plants have adequate water and are free from pests until harvest. At harvest, the students will taste test the fresh vegetables and learn the nutritional value of fresh food.
This was a very rewarding day for all involved. Touching the lives of today’s youth, teaching them about growing food, and watching the excitement on their faces as they dug their fingers into the fresh dirt and placed their seed under the soil was inspiring. The children were eager to learn about gardening and growing their own food and enthusiastically raised their hands to answer gardening questions. I’m sure later in the night as each child went to bed, they counted sheep, and dreamed of becoming a farmer.
For more information about this program or vegetable gardening in general, you can contact the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Service at 910 592-7161.