sproutsMilbridge Sprouts: We are looking for kids to join us for a Summer Garden Adventure Group.

This summer garden adventure is a collaboration between IncrEdible Milbridge (part of the WHRL), The Milbridge Public Library, and Mano en Mano. It has been organized by Steuben resident volunteer, Elin MacKinnon. The activities are planned for children in K-5th grade (5-10 years olds). Milbridge Sprouts is for kids who want to have fun learning about gardening and giving back to their community by making public spaces more beautiful (and more edible). We have room for 12 children to participate; the program is free.

What’s planned so far?
Gardens shouldn’t be boring – so we will be creating some theme gardens we will be tending throughout the summer. We are planning: a pizza garden (Mano en Mano), Three Sister’s garden (WHRL), culinary edibles (Fisherman’s Wife Café). If we have enough kid-power, we may do a few more edible gardens within walking distance of the library, which is our meeting place. Our first meeting is Saturday, June 14 10:00 am at the Milbridge Public Library. Each group meeting will start at the library where we will learn something interesting about plants or gardening. Some weeks we might do a garden related craft or art activity. We will be encouraging children to have a small garden (or a few plants) of their own at home if they can, and we’ll provide them with some ideas and resources. The rest of our time we will work outside together preparing or caring for our IncrEdible gardens and having fun. We are looking for kids who will do their best to be available to meet 10 times over the summer. The deadline to sign up is June 2.

There’s a sign-up sheet at the Milbridge Public Library with the specific dates we are scheduled to meet. You may also call Elin at 207-944-2932 or email her at elinm@maine.edu. Our first meeting is Saturday, June 14 10:00 am. The program is free.

Why garden with kids?
For the past 20 plus years I’ve incorporated plants and garden activities in my work with kids and families as a social worker in Maine. With some well planned activities, kids can easily uncover the magic and wonder in a garden. In addition, they can learn some important life lessons about work, working together and how the environment influences everything we do. Children who develop an interest in gardening will share that interest with countless other people –young and old – who also love to garden. Our Milbridge Sprouts group is mostly for fun, but the restorative power of gardens in well documented and many organizations and institutions across the country offer horticultural therapy programs of various types. There are both bachelor and master degree programs available in horticultural therapy and the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) is the leading professional organization for it’s members. You can learn more at their website AHTA.org .

When I garden with kids, I always tell them their first garden shouldn’t be any bigger than their bed. A smaller, more manageable garden is likely to be something they can keep up and maintain. And in the end, they will be more successful.

Here are some sites with great ideas and resources for gardening with children.
http://www.kidsgardening.org/ from the National Garden Association
http://jmgkids.us/ Junior Master Gardener
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/firstgarden/ (in Spanish also!)