By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times
Children have a fascination with watching things grow. The lessons they can learn from planting a seed range all the way from spiritual and agricultural to poetic.
Give your little ones and your pre-teens a chance to experience for themselves the wonder of seeing nature up close and personal.
North Alabama Agriplex Heritage Center will offer Summer Gardening Camps starting Wednesday, May 29, and running through Aug. 7.
Children up to the age of 13 will get practical experience in gardening, and older students will be able to take field trips to area farms to witness agriculture in action.
The pre-school program is from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Children ages 3-5 must be accompanied by a parent or grandparent. The cost of the course is $35/child, parents and grandparents are free.
The five- session course for preschoolers includes a T-shirt and several “take home” projects. “In one class we will ask that they bring pictures of themselves as babies, then we will talk about how they have grown, and relate that to the seeds they will be planting,” said Agriplex Coordinator Rachel Dawsey.
The preschoolers will also make a “Plantenstein” which is a face made of plants such as coleus cuttings, grass seeds, stem cuttings, spider plants, and even a garlic bulb for the nose!
This age group will also study our “Garden Friends” including worms, bees, birds, rabbits and other garden inhabitants.
Each week the youngsters will learn different gardening techniques in a fun, informative and educational setting.
The Elementary Garden Camp (ages 6-10) is for children who can be dropped off each week. The cost is the same as for preschoolers, $35/child.
The Elementary Campers will learn about growing plants in raised beds, about the importance of soil, and even about the “art” of gardening by using fruit and vegetables as stamps for a take-home project. The last class, which is August 7, will be the study of beneficial insects.
For older children, ages 7-13, the class is a two-day session. The cost is $20/child, and includes lunch, snacks, a T-shirt, and some exciting field trips to area farms.
This class, Touring Farms For Kids, will be held June 19-20, and will start at 8 a.m. and run until 4:30 p.m. both days. There are spots for 35 children, so you will want to sign up for this as soon as possible to ensure that your child has this opportunity.
“This is our 13th year for farm tours,” explained Dawsey. “The kids will bring home lots of goodies.”
“We will use as many locally-grown fruits and vegetables as possible when we prepare their lunches and snacks. We want them to see and sample the foods that grow right here in Cullman County,” she continued.
“We will be visiting the Auburn Experimental Station, and several area farms, the Travis Kress Farm in Cullman, Jeremy Calvert’s farm in Brushy Pond, Scotty Hooper’s cattle and horse farm in Welti, which includes deer, and the kids will get to fish there, as well,” said Dawsey. “We will also visit the Goldridge farm of Phillip and Nancy Garrison, who have a wonderful sorghum and honey operation.”
The tour will also include a trip to the Festhalle Market Platz, which includes a $5 voucher for each child to spend at the market.
This session also includes a tour of the Peinhardt Living History Farm Museum, demonstrations by the Cullman Forge, a blacksmith craftsmen’s association.
The children will bring home samples of the various products from some of the farms.
July 9-12 from 9 a.m. to noon, there will be a sewing class for children ages 5-10. Volunteers from the Heartland Quilt Guild will instruct youngsters in the art of sewing. They will make projects from a book called, “Sewing School”. The cost of the class is $20, and each child will receive a sewing kit and bring home several projects. This class is offered through a partnership between the Cullman County Cooperative Extension Service and the North Alabama Agriplex.
Dawsey is indebted to the many volunteers, including several Master Gardeners and retired teachers who will help with each of the summer camps. “We really appreciate these people who will share their knowledge with the children,” said Dawsey, who is also a Master Gardener.
These programs are made possible with the help of several area sponsors.
For more information, contact Rachel Dawsey at 256-297-1044, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each class will be held, or meet at, the Agriplex Heritage Center, 1714 Tally Ho Street S.W., Cullman, Ala.