AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

Linda Geist
Senior Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group

June 14, 2018

Master Gardener nurtures school garden
that fuels love of food, community, PART 2.

Neighbors offer advice on herbs and tomatoes for sauces. A restaurant owner donated garlic bulbs for planting. Grapevines, commonly seen growing in the backyards of Hill homes, provide opportunities for older residents to teach younger ones and share memories.

Students, teachers and administrators hope to offer a small farmers market for local residents and restaurants. Students attending summer camps maintain the gardens during their peak growing time. They also enjoy snacks and lunches made with fruits and vegetables at peak flavor.

Sacred Heart Villa students and teachers share their experiences via Skype with preschool students at St. Joseph's Catholic School in Imperial, Mo. They have a "friendly competition" to see which garden is blessed with the most produce, says Sister Jude Ruggeri, who grew up in the neighborhood.

"It's wonderful in lots of ways," she says. "It teaches the children to take time to view the flowers and plants and enjoy."

Records says the St. Louis Master Gardener program, including the Villa program, shows urban residents how to grow their own food even with limited space. The classes also bring together a diverse group of people interested in healthy eating. This year's class of St. Louis Master Gardeners includes three physicians, a concert violinist, a tattoo artist, an oncologist, a stand-up comedian and the owner of a small hardware store.

Learn more about the St. Louis Master Gardner program at or visit the Missouri Master Gardener website at


Tips for gardening with children

Of all the things found growing in a garden, kids are by far the most important, says University of Missouri Extension horticulturist David Trinklein, who offers these tips:

  • Let youngsters feel a sense of ownership of their part of the garden space. Label it with their name.
  • Kids love digging in the dirt. Let youngsters take part in soil preparation.
  • Nothing builds confidence like success. Choose garden plants that are started from seeds and fairly easy to grow. Radishes, carrots and lettuce are good choices.
  • Incorporate some "easy" flowers such as zinnia and marigold into the garden plan so kids can pick bouquets to take to their families.
  • Kids love to water. Make it a part of their garden chores. Keep an eye out to make sure it is done properly.
  • Consider planting theme gardens such as salsa or salad gardens. This will give children a sense of where their food comes from.
  • Make the best of time spent with youngsters in the garden by visiting about other things as well. In addition to talking about birds, insects and weeds, talk with children about their friends, school experiences, hopes and dreams.
  • Don't let a lack of space discourage you. Container gardens on a deck or patio can be a learning experience for children also. Grandparents, and parents who share custody, can still garden with little ones through photos on social media. Plant vegetables or flowers at the same time and share notes by telephone or Skype on how your garden is progressing.

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: Linda Geist

Students at Sacred Heart Villa preschool on The Hill in St. Louis learn how to make 'smashy peas' from chef and Master Gardener Margaret Grant.

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: Linda Geist

Students learn math and science as part of their gardening experience. Each week, they measure and record the growth of plants. They research what vegetables to grow in the schoolyard.

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: Linda Geist

Preschool students at Sacred Heart Villa learn gardening skills as part of the school's Outdoor Classroom program. They grow fruits and vegetables for their school lunches in 23 berms in the schoolyard.

Source: Holly Records, 314-577-9442

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