Intermediate students earning green thumbs

Junior Master Gardeners growing vegetable garden

Renee Sadler (left) working with Rockdale Junior Master Gardeners participating in the 21st Century after school program. Renee Sadler (left) working with Rockdale Junior Master Gardeners participating in the 21st Century after school program. Every Monday after school, you can find Renee Sadler, Little River Basin Master Garden Association’s Junior Master Gardener Coordinator, at the Rockdale Intermediate School working with 39 third through fifth graders on after school projects. This semester the students are pursuing a Golden Ray Series Certification entitled Growing a Vegetable Garden.

Last spring at the intermediate school, the JMG group grew plants in a bucket garden. Towards the end of the spring semester Sadler decided to apply for a grant so that they could expand the program and develop a permanent garden. Cheryl Walker, extension agent, located a grant through the Texas 4-H Friends & Alumni Association.

The “Growing a Vegetable Garden” certification is relatively new having been developed this past year. Everything seemed to be in place at the time–the new facilities, the new JMG certification, the interest and enthusiasm with the bucket garden and grant avenues. Sadler decided to go for it.

She spoke to the program director for the after school program and inquired about the feasibility of the high school Ag Department being included in the project. They agreed and even with personnel changes they have continued to support the project. The El Camino Real Master Naturalist of Milam County have also assisted in the planning of the garden as well as the placement of the soil into the beds.

Starter plants and seeds were placed in raised garden beds on the first day students returned to school after spring break, coinciding with the first day of spring. Prior to the raised bed planting, students had germinated some of the plants in containers placed on window ledges.

All 39 students have taken part in the selection of the plants to grow and the planting of the seeds. They will also take part in the planting in the beds. At the end of the semester, our produce with be divided among the students to take home or donate. Before the end of the school year, native f lowers will be planted while the students are enjoying their summer vacation. Future additions will include possibly a lady bug house. When school begins in the fall the students will begin working on a fall garden.

Master Gardeners, Master Naturalist, Garden Club members and plant enthusiasts are welcomed to help with the project.

Contact the intermediate school, 430-6200 for more information.

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2011-04-07 digital edition

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