Fall Children’s Vegetable Garden Program in San Antonio accepting applications

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for Bexar County and San Antonio Botanical Garden are accepting applications for the fall Children’s Vegetable Garden Program, coordinators said.

The Children’s Vegetable Garden is located on the grounds of the San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston Place, San Antonio.

Each spring and fall, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the San Antonio Botanical Garden present a Children's Vegetable Garden Program. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

Each spring and fall, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the San Antonio Botanical Garden present a Children’s Vegetable Garden Program, during which young people learn about gardening, nutrition, entomology, agriculture, the environment and more. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

Each spring and fall, the two organizations present a Children’s Vegetable Garden Program, with 65-90 youth participating in each program, said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture in Bexar County and the program’s administrator.

The program is open to children 8-13 years of age from Bexar and surrounding counties. This year, the fall program will take place from 9-11 a.m. over 16 consecutive Saturdays from Aug. 24 to Dec. 7.

“During the program, children receive their own garden plot in which they prepare soil, plant, weed, nurture, grow and harvest their own vegetables under the guidance of several Bexar County Master Gardener volunteers,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said Bexar County Master Gardeners is a volunteer organization which helps support area AgriLife Extension horticultural efforts, including providing oversight and instruction at the 1-acre Children’s Vegetable Garden. Currently, more than 30 Bexar County Master Gardeners are involved in the program, showing kids how to grow vegetables while teaching them about nutrition, beneficial insects, the environment and the benefits of having outdoor interests.

Program registration is $40 per child or $50 for two if they share a plot. Registration funds are used to purchase seeds, plants, compost, fertilizer, mulch and other materials.

An application can be found at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/ or register online at the San Antonio Botanical Garden website at http://www.sabot.org. The deadline for submitting an application for the fall program is Aug. 16.

“The cost of the program is extremely reasonable, especially given the length of the program and amount of instruction and hands-on assistance provided,” Rodriguez said. “Acceptance in the program will be based on completeness of the application and willingness to attend each Saturday morning session, though two absences are allowed.”

Rodriguez said many of the children starting the program don’t know where their vegetables come from, and most have never even seen a vegetable garden, much less grown anything.

During the Children's Vegetable Garden Program, youth from 8-13 years old learn how to plant, grow  and harvest their own vegetables, plus engage in other fun and educational activities.  (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

During the Children’s Vegetable Garden Program, youth from 8-13 years old learn how to plant, grow and harvest their own vegetables, plus engage in other fun and educational activities.
(Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

“Typically the kids are fascinated with the bugs they find in the garden, the types and colors of the plants and watching their vegetables grow,” he said. “Although the Children’s Vegetable Program has evolved over the almost 30 years it has been in existence, it has kept its primary focus of helping inner-city youth develop an appreciation for nature.”

Many of the academic concepts presented in the program through the Junior Master Gardener curriculum used are in keeping with mandated Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills requirements for public schools, Rodriguez noted.

“The JMG curriculum not only teaches the kids about gardening, but also acquaints them with math and science — subject areas where the U.S. is behind academically as compared with other developed countries.”

For more information, contact David Rodriquez at 210-467-6575 or dhrodriguez@ag.tamu.edu.

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