Posts Tagged ‘food gardening’

2017 Youth 1st Place (tie) – Garden Lesson in a Box, Spokane County, WA

Friday, June 9th, 2017

 

Children and Ladybugs

The Washington State University Spokane County Master Gardeners involved in our Youth Program have created seven core gardening lessons geared toward children in Kindergarten through 6th grade.  These lessons were designed to be presented to the Spokane Public Schools after-school child care program called Express, but they have also been presented at a variety of other locations such as public and private school classrooms, church groups, scout troops, and boys’ and girls’ clubs.  Over the past 11 years, we have given these presentations to over 10,000 children.

Each “Garden Lesson in a Box” consists of a syllabus, list of materials, background resource information, and supplies needed for the presentation, all contained within a portable bin which can be easily transported to the presentation site.  The seven lessons with a brief description of each, are:

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:  Garden Creatures:  Using pictures and life cycle models to start, children are introduced to nine different garden creatures (Colorado potato beetles, banana slugs, ground beetles, earwigs, spiders, aphids, praying mantis, ladybird beetles, and pillbugs/sowbugs) and their significance in the garden.  The children then observe and interact with live specimens.  For safety reasons, the children are allowed to handle only the pillbugs/sowbugs which they have to hunt for in open containers of compost. The children color drawings of the creatures and also plant flower seeds in newspaper pots of soil to take home.
  • Three Sisters:  The children act out the Native American story of the three sisters and learn the importance of corn, beans, and squash to the Native Americans and the principles of companion planting.  The children sow seeds of these three vegetables to take home and also color and label pictures of them.
  • Soil:  Children learn the function of plant roots, observe the different components of soil, and learn the value of compost as a soil amendment.  They hunt for living creatures in partially-decomposed compost and learn the function of each in the decomposition process.  The children color pictures of compost creatures and sow vegetable seeds to take home.  Singing along to the song ‘Dirt Made My Lunch’ by the Banana Slug String Band is a fun part of this lesson.
  • Pollination:  Using large felt diagrams of flowers, the children learn the flower parts and their functions, and the role that pollinators play in seed production and food produc
    Three Sisters lesson

    Three Sisters lesson

    tion for humans.  They observe real beehive components and learn how visits to flowers benefit bees.  They sow flower seeds to take home and also color pictures of flowers.

  • The Seed:  Using pictures and large models of bean seeds, the children learn the major parts of a seed which they then identify by dissecting lima beans.  They learn the conditions that seeds need to sprout, and they observe the process of seed germination in pre-planted demonstration materials.  The children create “Personality Pots’ where they sow seeds of rye or radishes in cups of soil on which they have drawn faces (as the seedlings grow, they create “hair” for the face).
  • Vegetable Garden:  We read the book Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, a Common Core text exemplar and funny story about the edible parts of plants.  Then the children are shown real vegetables and identify which parts are eaten by humans.  Using a 4’x4’ square of brown felt as a garden plot and vegetables made from felt, the children lay out a vegetable garden, learning about spacing, sun exposure, succession planting, and vertical gardening.  The children sow seeds of vegetables to grow at home and draw pictures of their dream vegetable garden.  We also sing along to two songs by the Banana Slug String Band, ‘Sun, Soil, Water, and Air’ and ‘Give Plants a Chance.’
  • Trees:  The children act out a fable about deciduous and evergreen trees and learn about the value of trees for humans.  They examine cross-sections of tree trunks, identifying the major parts, and estimating tree age. They make crayon rubbings of different leaves, examine various tree seeds, and plant maple seeds to take home.

Our seven garden lessons cover a variety of garden topics, but in each one, children sow seeds in pots that they take home.  We feel that growing a plant from seed and caring for that plant is a crucial experience for children, allowing them both to witness the wonder of nature and to experience the responsibility of nurturing a living plant.

Vegetable Garden lesson

Vegetable Garden lesson

When we first decided to develop these garden lessons, we wanted to create affordable, fun activities that children would like doing. The homemade materials (felt boards and figures, felt vegetables, felt flower diagrams, seed models made from clay) were not difficult to design and make and were constructed by Master Gardeners with no crafting experience.  These materials are intriguing to children who love handling them, thus providing a tactile experience which adds to their learning.  Including songs to sing and stories to act out involves the children on an active level which helps to hold their interest and makes the lessons very enjoyable.

Purchased durable supplies include plastic bins (about $15 each), mesh insect cages (about $10 each), ladybird beetle and praying mantis life cycle models (about $6 each), and a portable CD player (about $20).  Supplies that need to be regularly replenished include seeds, potting soil, zipper-lock plastic bags, styrofoam cups for the ‘Personality Pots,’  live ladybird beetles (about $6), and praying mantis egg sacs (about $10).   Live garden creatures other than ladybird beetles are collected by Master Gardeners from their own gardens and compost piles.  Pots for children to sow seeds in are made from old newspapers by the Master Gardeners.  Handouts and pictures to color are easily found on the Internet and printed out.

Having a self-contained lesson enables a Master Gardener to present a lesson with a minimum of preparation.  These lessons can also be modified by the person doing the presentation.  Some presenters like to add more information and some omit certain activities that they are not comfortable with (such as singing a song).  Although the lessons were originally designed for children in grades K-6, they can be, and have been, modified for younger and older children as well.  The presentations are usually 45-60 minutes in length but can be shortened or lengthened depending on the age and number of the children participating.

Children look forward to our presentations and enjoy the time they spend with us.  We regularly receive charming thank-you notes from the children which include comments such as these:  “I like how you taught us. I liked when we did the play. The bugs were cool.”  “I love the fun active games. I loved learning about pollen and good and bad bugs.”  “I like the song you taught us too!”  “You showed us how plants grow.”

We have a lot of fun with the children in these presentations, and especially enjoy seeing their delight at discovering the joys of gardening.

 

Children and Ladybugs For further information, please contact Tim Kohlhauff at tkohlhauff@spokanecounty.org

2017 Youth 1st Place (tie) – Catherine Desourdy School Garden Mentor Program, University of Rhode Island

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Catherine Desourdy School Garden Mentors (SGMs) are specially trained University of Rhode Island (URI) Extension Master Gardeners who volunteer in schools on behalf of URI Cooperative Extension’s School Garden Initiative. This project, which tied for second place in the 2017 Extension Master Gardener Search for Excellence Youth Category, cultivates a love of nature, a respect for all living things, and a foundation in natural sciences for school-aged youth. Over sixty schools in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut have partnered with URI Master Gardeners to help children of all ages learn about the world around them and how to become its stewards.

The award will be given on July 11 at the General Session of the International Master Gardener Conference in Portland, Oregon.  The Search for Excellence is the recognition program for outstanding Extension Master Gardener projects throughout the United States, Canada and South Korea.

The garden at Waddington Elementary in East Providence, Rhode Island, has helped the children feel closer to nature and empowered to help protect it.  Art teacher/ URI Master Gardener Melissa Guillet has them study live insects and draw and make models from specimens. They look for evidence of tracks, scat, and homes, plant veggies, share salad, soups, and teas with their produce, and learn to work as a team.  They learn how seeds travel, seeking seeds out in the fall, and design their own seed packs.  They make art out of leaves and identify trees.  It’s non-stop exploration at this school, even measuring soil moisture and rainfall to track el Nino for GLOBE and NASA and designing their own anemometers!  They do this all through collaborations with URI Master Gardeners Desourdy School Gardens program, Barrington Land Trust, ASRI, parents, other volunteers, and the environmental curriculum developed by Melissa Guillet through 15 Minute Field Trips™.

Hamilton Elementary School in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, focused more exclusively on sustainable “green” gardening practices. Everyone learned about the importance of companion planting and its Abenaki Native American origins at the school’s Three Sisters Garden. Later, they planted a square-foot garden bed and harvested food for nearby food pantries.

Two hundred Cluny Elementary School children, in Newport, Rhode Island, gardened in the winter by planting seeds under hoop coverings and in ziplock bags, which were placed in milk containers in the snow. They also planted a raspberry patch and apple trees. At their plant sale students made $80 selling their own lettuce and that money was used in other school garden projects.  They hope to create a rain garden next year and hook up rain barrels to water their beds.

The School Garden Mentor project is named for the late URI Master Gardener, Catherine Desourdy, whose family made a bequest in her name after her death in 2008.  Its main purpose has been to connect youth to gardening. More than 13,000 children have learned to value growing locally, to understand the importance of vegetables in a healthy diet, the role of pollinators and beneficial insects, the need to recycle, and the stages of growth in plants, among other things. As Vanessa Venturini, URI Master Gardener State Program Leader says, “School gardens serve as living laboratories, giving students access to authentic learning environments to help them learn science, math, social studies and other concepts.”

Testimonies from those taking part prove her point. One teacher cites overhearing a boy instructing his grandfather on the importance of planting marigolds to “keep the bad bugs away” instead of spraying seedlings, which would “kill the bees and the good bugs” as well. Another recounts the responses of first graders to learning about vermicomposting, “We didn’t really like worms but now that we know how important they are to helping our earth and our garden grow, we love them.”

More than fifty URI Master Gardeners currently serve as mentors, with more interns training each year. A team of regional “School Garden Mentor Managers”organize and support the mentors.  School garden Mentors assist classroom teachers in a number of ways:

  • Bringing together school garden teams consisting of teachers, staff, parents and students to ensure long-term success and continuity;
  • Helping them make decisions in the garden such as choosing a site and selecting appropriate plants
  • Completing soil tests and making recommendations for amending beds prior to planting
  • Providing access to standards-based curricula for use in the garden classroom
  • Supplying school gardens with donations of seeds and seedling donations for pollinator and vegetable gardens
  • Making available the URI Gardening & Environmental Hotline, URI Plant Clinic and other URI Cooperative Extension resources to troubleshoot

The first School Garden Mentors volunteered in three suburban elementary schools in 2011.  Since then the project has expanded to include public and private schools, reaching K-12 students in urban and rural areas as well. As of 2016, a partnership has developed between URI Cooperative Extension and the Providence Public School District to develop and support school gardens on a district level.  This School Garden Initiative has generated best practices which are then shared through continuing education classes designed for School Garden Mentors working statewide.

 

 

 

 

 

Turn Your Zucchini or Summer Squash Into “Pasta”

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Zucchini Spaghetti 2

Julienne slicer

 

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Standard vegetable peeler

 

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Large holed grater or microplane

 

CWG-Zucchini-Pasta-bf

Wide vegetable peeler

 

zucchini

Serve uncooked as a salad….

 

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… lightly sauteed and seasoned…

 

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…or topped with your favorite pasta sauce.

 

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Use your imagination!

 

Posted by Sylvia Hacker, Dona Ana Co. New Mexico EMG

The Giving Garden, Part 2: Planning, Managing, and Sustaining the Giving Garden of Over 15 Years

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

As I mentioned in my last blog on the history of the Giving Garden, many volunteers and partners work to plan, prepare, manage and sustain the Giving Garden of over 15 years.

Work begins each spring as early as weather allows and ends when harvest has been completed. The garden is prepared for winter, usually early November. Our committee of Master Gardener Coordinators meets three times during the winter to plan for the next season. Past season activities, planting and harvest are reviewed and adjustments are made where necessary.

Coming up with practical planting plans

One of the hardest things we have to do is to control our enthusiasm so we don’t plant more than we are able to manage! Here are the nuts and bolts of how we put together our planting plan:

  • We currently plant 1.8 acres of the approximately 5 acre area.
  • We also have sixteen 25′ x 30′ plots for private or personal gardens that are offered to community residents. Employees of the companies whose land we use have priority.
  • We use a computer generated planting guide, developed by one of our coordinators, that dictates where everything is to be planted and how much (see fig 1).
  • Taking plant families into consideration, the planting guide insures proper crop rotation.  Using our plan, crops cycle every three years. Some areas are allowed to go fallow and cover crops are planted to help recondition the soil and add nutrients. The planting guide also allows us to better estimate the number of seeds and bedding plants that we will have to order. All seeds and plants that we need are donated by local merchants.

Below is Figure 1, a picture of the computer generated planting plan. A larger version can be downloaded as a PDF here> 2011 Humphrey – Kendall Master Gardener_GivingGarden_Kalamazoo.

 

Planting Plan for the Humphrey-Kendall Vegetable Garden

Planting Plan for the Humphrey-Kendall Vegetable Garden

How the work gets done

Planting the Giving Garden

Planting the Giving Garden (Photo: JC Schneider)

As soon as the ground can be worked, a local farmer plows and disks the garden for us and spreads the fertilizer. After work begins, we have five three-hour work sessions scheduled each week. We get an average of 10 volunteers per shift, some work as many as three shifts, others lesser amounts. Two coordinators are assigned to each shift to assign duties, instruct where necessary and oversee volunteer activities. All volunteers sign in so we can monitor the number of volunteers and how much time they give to the project. The work includes cultivating, planting, mulching, weeding, and harvesting vegetables, as well as maintaining the garden equipment and keeping the area mowed and well groomed.

Following each shift, one of the coordinators prepares a “Garden Log” that is emailed to all coordinators. The log documents the volunteers present at that shift, what was accomplished, and what needs to be done by the next shift. A notes section is used for general information. The log allows the coordinators for the following shift to prepare ahead of time for what needs to be done and servers as “diary” that documents activity for the year which helps us plan for the next season. The logs also serve as historical documentation for the project.

Controlling the Weeds – Mulch

We mulch our entire garden to help control weeds. We have a win-win agreement with the city to provide our mulch. They deliver around 250 cubic yards of compressed leaves each fall. We get the leaves for mulch, and the city saves time and gasoline by not having to drive to their landfill which is much further away than our garden.

Delivery leaves for mulch

Delivering leaves for mulch. Mulch is used to control the weeds (Photo: JC Schneider)

On site Storage

We have two sheds on site to store equipment. One shed belonged to Humphrey Products. In 2010 we constructed a 10’x16’ wood-framed shed for additional storage. Garden equipment includes a small 25-year-old tractor, walk-behind rototillers, and hand tools that have been donated over the years. This equipment has allowed us to enlarge the area cultivated, increase productivity, and improve the quality of the harvest. Mechanical equipment has contributed to increased output and decreased sweat equity, always welcome enhancements.

Giving Garden Shed

Giving Garden Shed (Photo: JC Schneider)

Harvest at the Giving Garden

When harvest begins, vegetables are picked, washed and or wiped, placed in boxes and weighed. The Food Bank picks up the harvest in refrigerated trucks for delivery to their warehouse. The frequency of pickups is coordinated with the Food Bank based on the amount of vegetables ready for harvest.

On Saturday, the harvest (up to 100 lbs) is picked up by the Ministries for Community, for local use. Our harvest has ranged from 15 to over 22 thousand pounds since 2006. Variation is caused mostly by weather conditions and pests. 2010 was our best year, producing 22,502 lbs. That included 9,879 lbs of tomatoes, 2,500 lbs of cucumbers and 1,700 lbs of winter squash. This past year our total was 17,312.

Cleaning and Boxing Vegetables

Cleaning and Boxing Vegetables (Photo: JC Schneider)

Following is a list of the vegetables we grow at the Giving Garden:

  • Snap Beans (Green & Yellow)
  • Pole Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Egg Plant
  • Cucumber (Slicers & Pickle varieties)
  • Peppers (Sweet and Hot)
  • Tomatoes (Slicers & Roma’s)
  • Pumpkins (Pie and Jack-O-Lantern)
  • Squash (Summer & Winter varieties)
  • Cabbage
  • Collard Greens
  • Kale
  • Okra
  • Turnips
  • Potatoes (Red & White Skin)
  • Tomatillos
  • Muskmelon
  • Watermelon

-Blog post article submitted by JC Schneider
Kalamazoo Michigan Extension Master Gardener

The Giving Garden, Part 1: The History of Sustainable Volunteer-Led Garden Project

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Editors note: This story about the Giving Garden, a Kalamazoo Master Gardener volunteer-led project, was submitted by JC Schneider a Kalamazoo County,  Michigan Extension Master Gardener. This is the first of several posts where JC shares the story of the Giving Garden and how Master Gardener volunteers and partnerships with local businesses and organizations have sustained the Giving Garden for over 15 years.  When I asked JC to share what was most interesting and unique to him about this project he replied:

One of the most interesting things about being involved with this project, is that this is the only project I have ever been a part of, run by a committee, that works, and it works well.

Thus this blog post will be followed by two other blogs posts with details of how the Giving Garden has sustained it’s efforts and provided rich learning opportunities over the years. Through these blog posts about the Giving Garden, I hope you’ll be able to take away some “nuggets of wisdom’ from what the Kalamazoo Master Gardener have shared through these posts, or perhaps share some of your own insights about sustainable garden projects via the comments section below.

– Karen Jeannette, eXtension Consumer Horticulture Content Coordinator

How The Giving Garden Began

Mike Blakely,

Mike Blakely, Kalamazoo County Master Gardener, planted the seed for this volunteer project. (Photo: JC Schneider)

From the late 70s through the early 90s, Mike Blakely, a local Master Gardener and retiree, was asked to judge personal gardens grown by employees of Humphrey Products, a local maker of small machine parts, on land the company owned. They awarded a prize each year to the employee judged to have the best garden.

In the mid nineties, the economy was good and interest in gardening waned. By the late nineties, gardening on the property ceased altogether.

Mike requested permission from the company to garden a portion of the land.  He proposed donating the vegetables harvested to Loaves and Fishes, a local organization that provides food for those in need via 26 local pantries and kitchens in the Kalamazoo area.  Humphrey Products generously agreed to provide the land and water for irrigation. Water lines had been installed by the company for use by employee gardeners. It was then that Mike “planted the seed” of this volunteer garden project.

Growing the Garden through people, plants, and partnerships

Mike gathered a few Master Gardener volunteers and in 1997, the project began. The garden has matured over time; the area cultivated has grown, as well as the amount and varieties of vegetables planted. In addition, efforts to teach young people to garden were added to the plan.

Our harvest has improved and the number of volunteers has increased significantly. Coordinated by Mike until 2008, when he thought it was time to “retire” at 84 years young, the garden is now overseen by a core group of nine volunteer Master Gardener “Coordinators” consisting primarily of retirees from a wide range of professions including scientists, a physics professor, a fireman, a schoolteacher, and others. Additionally, some 60 people, mostly Master Gardeners, volunteer various amounts of their time to the garden each year.

In 2006, our production exceeded Loaves and Fishes capacity so we made arrangements with the Food Bank of South Central Michigan to have them distribute our vegetables. The Food Bank serves an eight county area serving over 200 organizations that provide fresh, healthy, locally grown food.

Community and Volunteers Make the Giving Garden Possible

Spring Plow

Spring Plow (Photo: JC Schneider)

Without the help we get from the community and all our volunteers, this project would not be possible. In 2008, Humphrey Products sold much of the land we were gardening to Kendall Electric. When Kendall realized what we were doing on that property, they supported us 100% and along with Humphrey, have been wonderful partners. Humphrey supplies all the water for irrigation, Kendall donated money for a new top of the line rototiller to replace our two 35 year old models.

Donations as well as fundraisers, held by the Kalamazoo County Master Gardeners, help fund the garden. A local radio station included us in a fundraiser; the money donated was used to build our new shed. The Food Bank also helps with expenses. We cannot thank the community, local businesses, Michigan State University Extension and all the Master Gardeners enough for helping to make the seed that Mike Blakely planted 15 years ago grow into a project that benefits so many people, much like Jack and his beanstalk.

-Blog post article submitted by JC Schneider
Kalamazoo Michigan Extension Master Gardener

2011 Search for Excellence Workshops Category Award Winner- 3rd Place

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Grow Your Own Food- New Castle County, Delaware

New Castle County Master Gardeners teach vegetable basics classes.

In 2009 and 2010, the New Castle County, Delaware Master Gardeners offered numerous Grow your own Food workshops and demonstrations, in varying formats to their community.

Back to Ba$ics: A workshop series that included Master Gardener vegetable gardening workshops, developed to help people learn skills that they could use to save money, expand their resources, and live more simply.

Summer Tomato Tasting Event:  Master Gardeners and Master Food Educators offered a shared event in August in the teaching gardens to educate the community in vegetable gardening, and vegetable preparation.

Home Gardener Workshop Series Offered in Spring and Fall: This series featured the following workshops:  Starting Vegetables from Seed, Grow your own Food, It’s the Berries, Backyard Composting, Open Houses in our Vegetable Teaching Garden, Putting Your Garden to Bed, Edible Landscapes, Sheet Composting, Growing Vegetables at Home, Plan Your Vegetable Garden for Maximum Yield, and Potato and Tomato Planting Demonstrations, also in our Teaching Garden.

In total, there were 15 workshops that focused on the Grow your own Food theme, and over three seasons, more than 300 workshop attendees.

The demonstration garden open house was a well-attended event.

Master Gardeners worked together with the Horticulture Agent to develop workshops responding to community need.  The topics that Master Gardeners developed as part of their workshops/demonstrations included:  site/soil preparation, composting, plant selection, seeds/transplants, tips for growing vegetables, companion planting, integrated pest management (IPM), fall gardening, harvest to table, growing berries, and putting your garden to bed.

Vist the New Castle County Master Gardeners website at http://ag.udel.edu/extension/ncc/MasterGardeners.php

 

2011 Search for Excellence Innovative Project Winners- 3rd Place Tie

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Two projects: Emerald Ash Borer Awareness/Management by Greene County Ohio Master Gardeners and Grow It! Eat It! Summer Camps by Anne Arundel County Maryland Master Gardeners tie for third place in the Innovative project category at the International Master Gardener Conference.

Emerald Ash Borer – Greene County Ohio Master Gardeners

Ohio’s Greene County Master Gardeners were awarded the Search for Excellence Award, 3rd place, at the International Master Gardeners Conference for their Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Program.  In their thorough approach, the Master Gardeners worked with local government to not only raise general awareness but to manage the impact of the EAB.

Master Gardeners check a city tree for signs of EAB damage.

Seminars and meetings reach 1000+

Under the leadership of Thais Reiff, Xenia, Ohio, the group hosted three major seminars and 40 group meetings, reaching over a thousand government officials, landscape professionals, and private citizens.  To emphasize the need for EAB training and provide all Ohio Master Gardeners information, they developed, aired, and archived nine EAB and tree related training programs over the internet.  This innovative program delivery provided the impetus for the creation of the Ohio State University sponsored “EAB University.”  For more information, visit: www.emeraldashborer.info.

EAB Tree Inventory of ~25,141 Green County Specimens

Lead by retired engineer, Steve Mehaffie, Beavercreek, Ohio, the Master Gardeners and volunteers inventoried every city-maintained tree in Greene County, totaling approximately 25,141 specimens.  To achieve this amazing feat, Steve provided a thorough document, “Guide to the Beavercreek Tree Inventory”.  Also, he shared his tree inventory techniques in 90-minute presentation on “How to Do a City Tree Inventory” for organizers. The goal was to allow local governments to better manage their urban forests in light of the EAB infestation.  Both presentations are available to all Master Gardeners throughout Ohio and beyond at: www.greene.osu.edu/topics/master-gardener-volunteer-program/links-1.

For more information, visit www.greene.osu.edu.

Written by Susan Richardson, Greene County Ohio Master Gardener

 

Grow It! Eat It! Summer Camps – Anne Arundel County Maryland Master Gardeners

Anne Arundel County, Maryland Master Gardeners also received a third place award for their project with youth- Grow It! Eat It! Summer Camps.

Children enjoy getting their hands dirty while learning about soils and nutrition at Grow It Eat It Summer Camp.

Basic Food Gardening Lesson for Youth in Summer Camps

In partnership with the Anne Arundel County Recreation and Park, Annapolis City Recreation and Parks, and the Family and Consumer Sciences at University of Maryland the MG established a lesson on basic food gardening for underserved youth between ages six and twelve who were attending Recreation and Parks summer camps.

Lessons included Soil and Nutrition, Seeds, Plant Parts, Whole Grains, and Colors. Over 760 children attended the camps where they learned basic gardening principles and were given the tools to make healthier choices at home. The Master Gardeners were also asked to return to work with children ages four and five to introduce basic gardening concepts.

For more information visit the website at http://annearundel.umd.edu/MGFiles/GrowIt.cfm

posted by Monica David, IMGC Vice President