Since 1986, the Perth and District Horticultural Society has been conducting a Junior Gardeners program for Grade 3 students with local Elementary schools. At the beginning of the six week program, each student is given a workbook that contains the details of the program and a journal to record their plant growth each week. The program is so popular that it has expanded to 5 local schools and over 170 students have enrolled.
The six week program introduces proper growing techniques, nutrient needs, the ins and outs of good soil and composting methods as well as hands-on planting seeds and bulbs, container gardening and flower arranging. The children are responsible for the care of their own “hot house” containers containing marigold and tomato seeds that they have planted. They make seed tapes to use in their home gardens, plant seed potatoes in containers and one special week learn how to plant a small cactus container garden and care for it at home. The final event is making a small flower arrangement in a tuna can with greenery and cut flowers for Mother’s Day. In addition, each week each child selects a plant from the plant library to take care of and observe at home.
At the end of the program, each child is given a coupon for one free plant at the Plant Sale. The students are extremely selective when picking out their plant and more than one has told me he plans to become a Horticulturalist.
This program is completely the Horticultural Societies project. Lanark County Master Gardeners donates cash to help fund it, plants for the plant library and volunteers to help with the teaching. It is enriching and rewarding to take part in it and the instructors love it as much as the children do.