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Gardeners tend to young minds through storytime

Children learn about trees during summer program

POSTED: June 20, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Lying on their backs on the grass and admiring the large trees in the garden, area children tried to imagine a world without the shading greenery.

“I wouldn’t be able to breathe!” exclaimed 8-year-old Georgia.

This important but simple lesson was part of story time at Gardens on Green. Every Monday morning in June and July, an energetic group of young future gardeners gather to explore yet another side of nature and get their hands dirty.

This week’s story focused on the various needs for trees when many of the children, ranging in age from preschoolers to third-graders, found a new appreciation for the forestry that surrounds them.

The kids learned the lesson thanks in part to “The Tree Lady,” a story about Kate Sessions, who helped plant trees throughout San Diego in the 1800s. The group quickly discovered trees provided essential things such as shade and cover for animals along with fruits, flowers and nuts.

“Trees are important because they give us oxygen too!” Georgia said.

The Master Gardeners, who co-sponsors the weekly summer event, mentioned other plants provide oxygen as well. However, 8-year-old Brandon was quick to say “Trees give us more oxygen because they’re bigger.”

As the interactive session continued, the children learned more uses for trees and plants, helping them realize the benefits of gardening.

“The goal of the story this week is for the children to know and understand what trees do for us,” said Kathy Lovett, a Hall County Master Gardener who organizes the story series. “We focus on nature and teaching them about gardening, and we just teach them to love it since when we love something, we want to do it.”

Rachel Schneider, a Hall County Master Gardener who retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s forest service, was on hand to teach the children more about the benefits of trees and how we use them.

“It takes one tree per person, 21 inches around and 100 feet tall, to provide the paper products that we use in a year,” she said.

She told the group more than 1,000 products come from trees, including stains, acetate, cosmetics, wax and imitation vanilla extract.

Normally, the group plants a seed related to the story of the week, but Gardens on Green plants trees in the fall. So the group opted to plant sunflower seeds instead.

Georgia attends many of the Gardens on Green storytelling events. She also went on a field trip to the garden during the school year and planted vegetables.

“My favorite part is getting my hands dirty,” she said. “I feel happy when I see my plant grow.”

One week, the group dug up daffodil bulbs while another week they planted vegetables. But the kids always get a hands-on experience with the Master Gardeners at Gardens on Green.

During the school year, groups come through for field trips, but Lovett came up with the summer series to keep kids reading throughout the break.

“I thought it would be a great way to connect with our garden and connect with more information through the written word,” she said.

Another way the garden boosts summer reading is through the use of the three “Little Free Libraries” installed in the garden last summer.

“It’s a nice place for families to visit and have access to books while they’re here,” said Jill Kelly, who read the story to the children. “It works with the take a book, leave a book philosophy.”


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