Area schoolchildren got lessons on gardening Wednesday at the Hall County school system’s Gardens on Greens next to its central office on Green Street.
Children participating in the Junior Master Gardeners program at several Hall County schools, as well as Lakeview Academy in Gainesville, took turns hearing from instructors about pollinators, planting vegetables and making compost.
More students will take part in Growing Good Kids Through Gardening today and Tuesday at the nearly 1-acre plush setting between the school office and First Baptist Church.
“They say it’s one of their best field trips. It doesn’t cost them anything and they get to be outside and with their friends, so they’re having a good time,” said Hall County Master Gardener Mindy Wade, who heads up the junior program.
Thirteen area schools feature the program in third through fifth grades, with some 300 students participating. About 50 Master Gardeners work with the program as well, Wade said.
“We teach the kids about soil, insects, vegetables and all kinds of plants,” she said.
At last year’s event, Wade spoke about the importance of gardening for children.
“If they’re going to eat healthy food and know where it comes from, we have to teach them. Plus, all kids like to get their hands dirty and dig in the soil,” she said.
Hall County Deputy Superintendent Lee Lovett co-founded Gardens of Green with his wife Kathy Lovett, a Hall County Master Gardener and former Hall County English teacher.
Both were busy mingling with children and instructors Wednesday.
The Hall school system’s nutrition director, Cookie Palmer, led a session about plants and nutrition.
“A lot of them don’t understand that you can eat a plant,” she said. “... I have pictures of some of the plants and how they grow, as in the blueberries, that they only see in the store. I try to get pictures of them in their natural environment.”
Jenna Thomas, a Lakeview fourth-grader, said she likes the “getting dirty” part of gardening. “It’s fun,” she said.
Talley Motes, a fourth-grader at Mount Vernon Elementary School in North Hall, said she enjoys gardening because “it just always make me feel happy to see what God gave us and just to see all the pretty butterflies and birds.”