The University of Maine

 

Calendar  |  Campus Map  | 

About UMaine | Student Resources | Prospective Students
Faculty & Staff
| Alumni | Arts | News | Parents | Research


division
 Contentsdivision
 President's Messagedivision
 Student Focus
division
 Connection
division
 Insightsdivision
 Last Impressiondivision
 UMaine Foundationdivision
 On the Coverdivision

November/December 2007 Cover


division
 Current Issuedivision
 About UMaine Today
division
 Past Issues
division
 
 
Subject Areasdivision
 UMaine Home
division
 



 

UMaine Today Magazine


Connection

Mackenzie Rowe of Kennebunk works in one of the raised beds used for demonstration at the Kids Can Grow teaching site in Springvale. She is one of nearly 250 youngsters ages 7–12 who have participated in the Kids Can Grow program since its start in 1999 by University of Maine Cooperative Extension in York County.
Mackenzie Rowe of Kennebunk works in one of the raised beds used for demonstration at the Kids Can Grow teaching site in Springvale. She is one of nearly 250 youngsters ages 7–12 who have participated in the Kids Can Grow program since its start in 1999 by University of Maine Cooperative Extension in York County.

 Photo by Frank Wertheim

Links related to this story
 

Kids can grow

In York county in southern Maine, flower and vegetable seeds are used to grow and nurture self-esteem in children. They are among the supplies distributed to youngsters ages 7–12 in the Kids Can Grow program that, since 1999, has provided the knowledge and mentoring children need to establish their own raised bed gardens.

Kids Can Grow is now a national model that has been adopted in other states.

"I've been blown away with how popular it is with kids, parents and teachers," says Frank Wertheim, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator who started Kids Can Grow. "By getting their hands in the earth when they're young, we hope to kindle an interest that could turn into a life-long hobby. We also hope to instill excitement and pride in growing their own food."

Up to 30 children each summer join the program, often hearing about it from their friends and siblings. They gather monthly from April–August to learn how to make and maintain 3-foot by 5-foot raised bed gardens at the teaching site in Springvale. They use the "square-foot gardening" technique developed by Mel Bartholomew to "grow more in less space."

With the help of Extension Master Gardener mentors and simple supplies, the aspiring green thumbs start their own gardens in their backyards. For children living in more urban areas, Wertheim and the other adult volunteers help establish garden plots in their communities, close to their homes.

Each child pays $20 to get the loam, compost, lumber and seeds needed for his or her raised bed garden. York County Master Gardener Association subsidizes the program and local businesses donate some of the supplies to keep the cost affordable.

Master Gardener mentors work with the young gardeners at their homes, guiding their success and inspiring confidence. Some of the mentors spend up to 40 hours cultivating a love of gardening.

As the growing season progresses, the Kids Can Grow monthly meetings focus on gardening-related activities, including nutrition. The summer culminates with displays at the county fair, and a harvest dinner. Produce from the teaching garden is harvested by the children and donated to area food pantries as part of Extension's Plant a Row for the Hungry.

UMaine Today Magazine
Department of University Relations
5761 Howard A. Keyo Public Affairs Building
Phone: (207) 581-3744 | Fax: (207) 581-3776


The University of Maine
, Orono, Maine 04469
207-581-1110
A Member of the University of Maine System