Play Leader Series: Garden Club

Camden Ave/Father Lennon Park is lucky to have a beautifully lush community garden. There are about 14 plots in the garden and anyone in the community can request a plot before the season begins.  Catherine Mardos, the City Gardener, does workshops at many of the community gardens in the city, including the one on Camden Ave.  Our community garden also has two Resident Gardners, Providence College students Kate Corwin and Matt Levvechio.  In collaboration with The Madeline Rogers Rec Center right next to the park, PlayCorps, and the teen program that Matt and Kate run, Youth RAP (Youth Resident Activities Program), we recently started a summer garden club for any and all kids that want to learn more about gardening!
The kids at the Rec & PlayCorps love being in the garden to help water the plants and observe all the wonderful plants growing through the summer. We have sky-high sun flowers, crunchy cucumbers, snappy snow peas, and ripening tomatoes!  A handful of Rec kids and three boys from the neighborhood are garden club regulars.  Besides daily garden upkeep, the garden club’s first major project was creating a three-bin composter.  This composter was made out of seven wood shipping pallets.  Catherine, the City Gardener, as well as Matt and Kate and the kids dug small ditches, about 8-inches deep into the ground, and then vertically inserted the 3 pallets to create the wall of the composter.  Two palettes were then inserted on either sides as bookends, to hold the compost in, and two more pallets were used in the middle of the compost bin, to create three separate bin areas.
The kids then painted and decorated the wood compost bin.  Almost all the kids in the park participated, and even some adults, including this Play Leader ☺.  Besides this being a fun and creative project, the kids also learned about the purpose of compost; to create fertilizer for plants by collecting fruit, vegetable, and egg scraps and letting them sit in the sun, to eventually transform into a nourishing sludge for the garden soil. Parents also asked about it and got to learn too.
Gardening as a life skill teaches patience while with tasks like watering and pulling weeds. Gardening can begin at a young age and be continued throughout the lifespan, transforming into a productive yet calming hobby. Plus it’s an excuse to get down and dirty having some fun outside!
If you think your child might be interested in garden club, come on by to Camden Ave/Father Lennon Park on Monday and Thursday mornings, between 9:30 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Feel free to stay to play with PlayCorps afterward, until 2 p.m. and get a lunch! Come see all the beautiful butterflies, flowers, and veggies we have growing!
-Svetlana Goretaya

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