Children watch garden grow at Family Resource Center

Monday, May 12, 2008
CHRIS PAGANO ~ cpagano@semissourian.com Children attending the afterschool program at Cape Area Family Resource Center prepared to plant after members of the Southeast Missouri Climate Protection Initiative and the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Cape Girardeau prepared beds. Pictured, center, was Jylyn Harris of Cape Girardeau, a participant in the after-school program.

Children at the Cape Area Family Resource Center after-school program and those enrolled in the upcoming summer day camp will tend the tomatoes, lettuce, chives, cucumber, nasturtium, peppers and collard greens planted alongside and toward the front of their building.

Members of the Southeast Missouri Protection Initiative, partnering with the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Cape Girardeau, prepared soil, donated plants and constructed raised beds from lumber May 5 before children arrived for the after-school program.

Children will reap the benefits of their labor once the vegetables have matured and they can share them with their families.

When children arrived at the resource center May 5, homework was first on the agenda, said Denise Lincoln the center's director. "It is the last week of the after-school program. The summer day camp children will bring the garden to harvest. There's lots of informal learning going on with an activity like this," she said.

Jasmine Beard, 8, of Cape Girardeau said she was excited about planting. "I helped Ms. Denise plant flowers in front of the building -- petunias -- and some silver and yellow flowers," she said. The youngster had experience with planting flowers at home, too, but she said planting food was a new experience for her.

The Southeast Missouri Climate Protection Initiative co-facilitator Kathy Conway said the group focuses on awareness of energy use. The group plans to join the summer day camp participants at the resource center with meaningful activities that relate to gardening, buying locally and energy consumption once they start.

Conway said, "This is a great opportunity to help children think about how we do things, and their impact on them and society."

Submitted photo Members of the Southeast Missouri Climate Protection Initiative, from left, Kathleen Patton, Kathy Conway, Silvia Bell, Jill Stiehl, Carol Draper, Glenn Williams and Alan Journet met at Cape Area Family Resource Center to prepare grounds for planting fruits and vegetables, which will be looked after by children.

Khadijah Miller, 12, of Cape Girardeau helped plant flowers and tomatoes at resource center last summer. She doesn't like tomatoes and selected only peppers from the list of what she might eat from the list of what was planted.

She described last year's experience as fun and was pleased there would be another garden this year. "I'm an outside person. I like nature," Khadijah said.

Jaya Emanuel of Cape Girardeau said you need water and seeds to grow plants. Jaya planted and watered flowers last summer at day camp. The vegetable planting experience will be a new experience for her, just as planting fruit will be, too.

The 9-year-old said, "I think tomatoes are a fruit."

To contact the Southeast Missouri Climate Protection Initiative for a presentation or other ideas, call Conway at 651-2245. For more information on the organization, visit cstl.semo.edu/SEMOCPI.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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