Thursday, 02 February 2023

Children thrive in Kelseyville Elementary School garden program

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Students in the Kelseyville Kids Garden Club at work. Photo by Thelma Dangel.



KELSEYVILLE – A local school's program to introduce children to gardening is reaping benefits beyond produce – it's teaching children responsibility and the joy of growing one's own food.


Helen Finch's enthusiasm and talent for gardening are no secret, especially to those who have visited her annual Art in the Garden event.


In 2006, Finch volunteered to form the Kelseyville Kids Garden Club for fourth and fifth graders at Kelseyville Elementary School.


The number of students has grown from 30 to a crowd of 50 who come after school on Tuesday and Thursdays from 2 to 3 p.m. Children meet in a classroom to form teams and discuss the day's objectives and then it's off to the garden.


As a member of Trowel and Trellis Garden Club-Mendo-Lake District, California Garden Club Inc., I wanted to view their garden and it was time well spent.

 

Children's activities include digging, turning, amending and preparing the raised beds for seeds or seedlings that they have already grown in cell packs. Their tools are regular sizes. After their work they are taught to clean up before their gardening time is over for the day.


They weed, string, stake, fertilize, and finally harvest and enjoy their veggies and flowers.


Sometimes the children help to prepare a meal; other times, Helen and the parent/grandparent/neighbor volunteers prepare something for them to try.


For the children, cooking is very engaging; no one wants to be left out. While I was visiting, the girls set the tables and brought me a few flowers to enjoy.


Helen also has the children involved with the Free Kitchen Project at the Kelseyville Senior Center. Once during each season, the children are invited to harvest vegetables, prepare a meal and serve it to the people who come to dinner on the first Sunday of the month.


Helen is a very knowledgeable, patient gardener and teacher.


Many members of the community, Big Valley Lions in particular, have generously donated many of the items from the children's garden club wish list. Clear Lake Trowel and Trellis Garden Club has also been very supportive and made the school's club their Christmas project this year, providing most everything else on the list, including not one, but two much-needed picnic tables.


Some very thoughtful restauranteurs at Marcie's Brick Grill, Saw Shop Bistro and DJ's Pizza have provided the very important compostables that feed the garden.

 

There is a wonderful staff of other volunteers who spend as much time as they can at the garden or working behind the scenes. They include Margaret Eutenier, Pat Beedle, Teresa Marks, Andrea Anderson, Cindi Browzynski, Karen Long, Theresa Mather and Mary Bogle.

 

 

If you would like to share some of your time in the garden with Helen, she would love to hear from you. She can be reached at 707-279-9400.

 

 

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The children learn to raise vegetables and flowers from Helen Finch, who volunteers to teach the club. Photo by Thelma Dangel.

 

 

 

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Community clubs have helped provide equipment, picnic tables and other things on the club's wish list. Photo by Thelma Dangel.

 

 

 

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Another view of the raised beds where the children garden. Photo by Thelma Dangel.

 


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