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Learning how things grow at garden camp

By Staff | Jul 14, 2015

It was a day of learning, doing and seeing at the 4-H building behind the concession stands of the football field at North Fort Myers Community Park on Thursday.

That is where 4-H Lee Parks and Recreation got together to host a one-day camp for youths who want to learn about what makes things grow and perhaps grow some herbs and tomatoes themselves.

Karen Harty, instructor and 4-H leader, said it would be a fun, busy day for the 20 or so kids who came for the six-hour event.

“Some are 4-H members, some aren’t. We expect a full class and even had a waiting list,” Harty said. “We’re going to do the outside stuff first before it gets too hot.”

Among the first things they did was to make a “hyper-tufa garden markers” or stepping stone for the garden. They decorated their plastic molds with glass stones and glitter before putting on surgical masks and gloves to make their mixture of cement, peat moss and perlite to put in the molds.

When removed from the molds, it made a lightweight, decorative stepping stone.

“It’s lightweight. It’s not as heavy as a brick. It’s a more porous substance that we can make for the garden,” said Maegan Mikkelson, a 4-H member.

The campers also potted up some tomato plants, cilantro and oregano and learned about worms and composting, as well as watched videos on the importance of honey bees from volunteers who are also master gardeners.

Ruby Hughes, 9, a 4-H member for four years, said she was learning a lot, having a garden of her own at home.

“I’ve helped out around the garden and I think this is something I’m going to do more of in the future,” Hughes said.

Lee County 4-H agent Cathy Suggs said the event fits in with their mission to teach its members life skills through citizenship and leadership.

“If the kids put in six hours it’s considered a 4-H project and hopefully they’ll use it their whole lives,” Suggs said. “It’s practical teaching them sustainability. These skills aren’t taught in school anymore, you have to find them.”

Some of the 4-H members, who work year round on projects ranging from raising livestock to public speaking to sewing, will put a book together so they can get credit for a project completed.

Mikkelson, a 4-H member, said she was considering putting a project book together if she gathered enough information.

“4-H is something that’s good to be involved with and goes year by year like school,” Mikkelson said. “It helps you meet friends and gets you involved in the world.”