Conservation is the key to all youth programs at the Kentucky Children's Garden, a 2013 recipient of National Gardening Association's Jamba Juice ″It's All About the Fruit and Veggies″ Garden Grant. Located at the Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky in Lexington, the Kentucky Children's Garden is dedicated to educating the next generation through interactive gardening opportunities for families and visiting school groups. Education Coordinator Emma Trester-Wilson works to ensure that the nearly 8,000 youth participating in programming each year engage in lessons on water conservation, study and grow native plants, and grow vegetables of historic importance in the state. ″We teach conservation in a variety of ways: through found material art projects, via lessons on water conservation, and through teaching land use stewardship. Beyond specific programming, we encourage conservation in everything we do, especially watering the garden,″ says Trester-Wilson.
This children's garden experience provides youth with hands-on experiences in their local environment, teaching them more about their state as a whole. Each garden season youth participants and their families are involved in every aspect of the garden's growth, from seed to harvest. Children often come back week after week to care for and watch the garden grow. A vegetable harvest is always shared. Whether among program participants or donated to a local food shelf, produce never goes to waste. Eagle Scouts make significant contributions to the garden by building larger structures like tool sheds, compost bins, and fences.
Since 2011, the Kentucky Children's Garden has facilitated unique learning opportunities for youth ages 2 to10. Children explore geographic features of their state through miniature recreations in the garden of caves, a seep, palisades, and limestone sinkholes. The garden also includes a stream and pond area, a spider labyrinth, vegetable raised beds, the butterfly garden, a swath of native prairie, and a nature center where programs are conducted. Additional features include a pioneer garden and a Native American encampment planted with native plants and fruits and nuts gathered in Kentucky.
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