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News: Garden Club Mentors Boys & Girls Club in Orange, Virginia

 

April 06, 2018

For more than a decade, Dolley Madison Garden Club members have volunteered at the Boys & and Girls Club of Orange, Virginia, teaching the children how to arrange flowers, directing a successful “garden to table” program, and exemplifying the GCA’s purpose – stimulating the knowledge and love of gardening.  

For twelve years, the garden club has led flower arranging workshops in July for making entries in the Orange County Fair.  In addition to doing well at the fair, these entries help build new skills, pride, a sense of accomplishment, and appreciation for beauty. In December, garden club members help the children make swags for gift giving on the last day of school before Christmas vacation. The boys and girls love to make these arrangements for their families.

For the past decade, working with “garden to table” lead volunteer Marta Buzzelli, Dolley Madison members have provided hands-on educational programs about sustainable gardening practices, cultivating the joy of growing, harvesting, and cooking food plants. Vegetables and herbs are grown in four ten-foot-square planting boxes and old wine barrels, fenced to protect from deer. The boys and girls take an active role in seed saving, seed starting, planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting zucchini, green peppers, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, radishes, beets, assorted lettuces, jalapenos, strawberries, and watermelon, along with numerous herbs. They also grow annuals for pollinators and help maintain two bluebird houses. This year they plan to expand the garden to include berry vines and more pollinator plants.

The garden supplies ingredients for weekly Cooking Club meetings, an activity that encourages good eating habits and teaches basic nutrition and healthy recipes. The children take an active role in producing delicious meals and have learned how to can and freeze their harvest. Last fall, they produced a cookbook featuring favorite recipes and photos.

When this program began, most of the children had no idea how vegetables or fruits were grown. Now they converse with pride about their gardening and cooking skills, share their gardening knowledge with family and friends, and have planted home gardens.

 

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