The Elmira and District Horticultural Society has a few tweaks in store for this year’s iteration of its junior gardeners program.
There is no cost to attend next week’s junior gardeners drop-in. The joint initiative between the Region of Waterloo’s Elmira Branch Library and the horticultural society is offering youth a chance to develop their skills and try out their green thumb, including an at-home option.
“They can choose two different seeds to plant in their own garden, in their own home,” said Christine Webb, president of the Elmira District Horticultural Society. “They can choose to grow vegetables or flowers. They’ve got vegetable seeds, they’ve got flower seed, like zinnias, for example – zinnias grow really easily.”
Youth attending will have the option to sign up for planting a potato garden on the junior gardeners’ plot, located adjacent to the skate park on First Street in Elmira. Specifically, participants will be planting gem russets, a medium- to late-maturing, medium- to high-yielding variety, with long tuber type and medium brown skin.
Julia Swijters at Home Hardware in St. Jacobs dropped off the gem russet seed potatoes since she had extra. Pat Carder at the township also offered to help tend the junior gardeners’ plot.
“It’s like a massive community involvement, so this is really neat,” said Webb.
Unlike previous years, there is no membership fee to attend this event. It is also available to a more extensive age range – instead of very young children, it is open to students from grades 1-12. The change in age grouping is something the horticultural society had considered for years and finally put into practice.
“In previous years, they had to sign up, they had to pay a youth membership, and with that, they would have weekly meetings at the garden club, and we had a cap – we could only take 12-13 kids,” explained Webb. “We don’t have a coordinator this year for the junior gardening – as president, I have to make sure that youth are still involved, in some capacity, so that’s why we started this all up.”
Along with seeds, attendees will walk away with a few new gardening tips. Sheryl Tilley, a supervisor with the Region of Waterloo Library, and Emily McClement, the rural child and youth worker at Woolwich Community Services, also helped to organize the venture.
“Even if the kids don’t come to this, they can still come to the library and get seeds. This is more like a launch, making kids aware of what’s there and that they can access seeds at the Elmira branch,” explained Webb.
The event will take place at the Elmira Library at 65 Arthur St. S. on May 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There’s no cost, nor any sign-up required.