Tracy Bedolla and Andy Garcia giggled as they chewed mint leaves they found in the garden.
The classmates disagreed as to what the leaves were called. Tracy said the leaves were called “candy leaves.” Andy argued the leaves tasted more like gum than candy.
Nearly 80 second-graders from McEver Arts Academy attended the final enrichment lesson for the fall season Tuesday at Gardens on Green. The program, orchestrated by the Hall County Master Gardeners, will resume in the spring.
Students split into small groups and spent the morning visiting six learning centers in the garden where volunteer master gardeners taught about plant life.
Second-grade teacher Kim Olson said the hands-on lesson provides an opportunity to help students understand the lessons they learn in class.
“It’s more engaging for the students,” Olson said. “It’s more applicable to their lives when they get to go out and do more hands-on stuff instead of just reading it from a book.”
On a sign outside the garden the words “The flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today” are inscribed.
Kathy Lovett, a master gardener and Gardens on Green co-chairwoman, said the enrichment program puts those words into action. She said the program’s goal is to help children understand the scientific processes at play in the garden and instill a love of gardening.
“We want to create in them a real love of gardening, an appreciation of the earth that we share,” Lovett said. “It’s ours to either ruin or make better. That’s what the real investment of our time here is all about.”
Lovett applauded the efforts of volunteers who helped make the program a success this season. She said volunteers look at the lessons as an “opportunity to help (children) grow and bloom.”
Lovett smiled and said the children seem very appreciative of the gardens and the opportunity to help in them, too.
One young girl spun around and said she wished she had a garden in her backyard.
The children spent the morning learning about the life cycles of plants and insects, what plants need to thrive, nutrition, how to plant decoratively and how to collect seeds.
Lovett took the children over to a bed of Cosmos flowers to collect seeds. The plants are self-seeding and if gardeners aren’t careful, the plants can become too numerous for an area. The wind will also blow seeds into new locations.
Second-grader Vanessa Aguero took her time carefully tapping the seed pods of the plants into an envelope.
She smiled while collecting a lot of seeds. She picked one of the orange flowers to keep, too.
Tracy said she and her classmates learned a lot of new things about plants on the trip.
“The things that we learned today are we have to water our plants,” Tracy said. “You have to let them have sunlight and when it’s winter they’ll die. So you have to take them inside where it’s warm.”