The Missouri Garden ’n Grow program is a summer volunteer gardening program for 9- to 13-year-olds. Participating youths not only learn vegetable gardening, but also “cultivate” other science, math and language arts skills — and have fun! The goals of Garden ’n Grow are to experience the fun of gardening, enjoy a feeling of success, and have the satisfaction of sharing harvested food with others in need. Vegetables harvested from the gardens are for home use and donations to local food agencies.
Guided by adult volunteers, development of the whole child is emphasized as well as team building as each youth gardens with a partner. Adult leaders use cooperative teaching skills to educate youths about seeds, transplants, garden planning and design, site preparation, soils, plant growth and development, costs of production, garden pests, plant health care, human nutrition, food value, food needs in the local community, and horticultural career opportunities. Each adult volunteer is trained by a University of Missouri Extension specialist. A Garden ’n Grow Leader handbook, including lesson plans, and Garden ’n Grow notebooks for youth are provided.
Garden ’n Grow groups meet twice a week for an hour and a half to discuss educational subjects and to cultivate their gardens. Although Garden ’n Grow is designed as a 10-week summer program, enthusiastic gardeners often tend their garden plot until frost.
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