TOOLS FOR TEACHING
Members of Meridian Garden Club in Meridian Township, Mich., a recipient of a 2018 Ames Tool Grant, put the Ames garden tools they received immediately to work in a variety of local youth projects.
The garden club’s Backdoor Gardeners worked with kindergarten and primary school students to demonstrate gardening skills and how agriculture evolved in the U.S. in the 1800s. The group planted, maintained, and harvested a variety of vegetables, including corn, squash, potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, turnips, as well as herbs, in two pioneer gardens situated behind a farm house in Meridian Historical Village, Okemos, Mich. The village, which was settled in 1836, also includes a chapel, schoolhouse and barn, which date back to the early days of Meridian Township. Through their gardening efforts, supplemented by the introduction of Ames tools, young participants learned the importance and value of vegetable gardens to pioneer families.
Members of DeWitt, Mich. Girl Scout Troop 30226, along with children attending a summer camp sponsored by Meridian Historical Village, used task-specific Ames tools to weed gardens and turn soil. When the project was completed, garden club members showed the children how to clean the garden tools and incorporated a hands-on lesson on proper tool care and
maintenance before storing them for winter. The Backdoor Gardeners worked with the community at the Village’s Blue and Grey Days, an event that highlighted 19th century activities and featured a Civil War reenactment by the 7th Regiment Michigan Volunteer Infantry Company B. Teens, outfitted in clothing appropriate to the period, fed participants vegetables harvested from the gardens and prepared over a campfire.
Planting with a purpose
The Backdoor Gardeners of Meridian Garden Club used the new Ames tools to weed, maintain and harvest gardens at Meridian Historical Village throughout the summer and fall. Produce from the gardens often was donated to local food
Members of the garden club maintain six other garden beds in the Village, including the chapel garden. Members of the club’s Youth Education Outreach Committee, in collaboration with Haslett Middle School and the Children’s Enrichment Center, planted 400 bulbs outside the school over a two-week period. The project, part of the school’s “Be Nice” campaign, also teaches future generations the importance of actively participating in the community through gardening. Committee members also used the project to teach gardening basics, such as the importance of preparation, weeding, watering, introducing and using tools, safety and how to distinguish between annuals and perennials.
A plant identification scavenger hunt for youth at Haslett Lake Lansing Park South was a highlight of the season. The collaborative community effort by the club’s Youth Education Outreach
Committee and multiple local organizations included rock painting activities and a tour that featured activities and a tour that featured information on the importance of civic duty and proper etiquette around flower beds.
In spring, 2019, Meridian Garden Club members will teach youngsters about how vegetables grown locally contributed to a successful exchange and trading relationship among area pioneers, immigrants and Native Americans. The focus will underscore the history and value of seed exchanges and teaches that food does not originate in grocery stores. Other planned activities include planting seeds and potatoes, as well as a lesson about the importance of introducing worms to improve garden soil.
Members of Meridian Garden Club agree the youth programs they sponsor have the potential to reach thousands of area children over the next few years. Club members enjoy the opportunity to instill a love of gardening in youth and the combined efforts contribute to the beautification of the community.
Colleen Hyslop, Michigan Garden Clubs Inc.
For more information on the Ames
Companies Inc., visit www.ames.com
Photos courtesy of Meridian Garden Club
Articles and photos reprinted with permission by The National Gardener, Winter 2019.