Within your garden, it’s always good to consider the youngest gardeners of all – those young gardeners who come to your garden. Try to find ways to incorporate them into the process. Maybe they’re going to garden with their parents, or perhaps you’re going to set aside some plots that are going to be dedicated to different youth organizations. For instance, a 4-H group might have a plot, the boys and girls club may have a plot, or neighborhood school might come and garden in some of the plots. Or it may be a day camp or other organization that has some programming with gardening activities.
Often when kids come to the garden, they may have a short attention span. So, try to remember to match some garden chores with some fun activities. If you do some weeding, then do some harvesting of different kinds of produce and make a special recipe using the produce. You’ll need a recipe that’s kid friendly and something that they can do at home so that they develop foods and nutrition skills, and have confidence in the kitchen.
Many of our young people may not have gardened before. They may be new to this area, and their parents may not have a lot of gardening experience. So, if you can find some gardeners within your garden group that particularly like working with kids that could be garden mentors, that would be a great match. Those garden mentors can be someone that a young person can develop a long-term relationship with and learn how to garden.
If you’re not experienced with working with kids, contact your local extension office and talk to the 4-H agent in that office. They can give you some tips about working with young people and how they learn. At different ages they have different skills, and different dexterity, and their attention span grows over time. So, that would be an opportunity to learn more about youth development, and how you can work well with children.
So, when you’re thinking about working with young people in your garden there are couple of things to keep in mind. Keep it short, keep it simple, and keep it fun.
This feature story prepared with Evelyn Neier, Kansas State University Research and Extension Youth Gardening Specialist, 4-H Youth Development. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.