Growing Future Gardeners

Published 7:12 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2011

For the past week, the Lincoln County Master Gardeners have beenintroducing third-graders in Lincoln County to naked ladies.

However, it is not what you might think.

During the trips to the county’s six schools, the organization’srepresentatives been able to show 24 classrooms how to plant andtake care of their very own amaryllis bulb – or naked lady – inhopes of growing future Lincoln County Master Gardeners.

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“By February, you’ll have a nice pretty plant with a nicevibrant flower on top,” said master gardener Steve Edge. “You coulddo nothing to them and still make a flower.”

Edge indicated the third-grade was a good time to introducestudents to gardening activities.

“We thought going into a third-grade classroom they’re just inthe right spot, they still like to play in the dirt,” said Edge.”We like to go in and talk to them, and they get to see somethingglorious.”

The flowering bulb native to South Africa will grow up to 14inches in eight weeks inside area classrooms as students water andmake sure the plant receives the proper sunlight.

“Here in the city, they don’t really have an understanding aboutplants,” said LCMG President Barbara Breaux. “They don’t realizethat plants can be grown in pots as well as in the yard.”

Master gardeners added that their classroom visits have beenwell received by eager students itching with green thumbs.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” said Mignon McKennon, third-gradeteacher at Brookhaven Elementary School. “It encourages them tolearn how to recognize plants and take care of them.”

In addition to being shown the basics of gardening, studentswere given a chance to ask questions about vegetables, pesticidesand various forms of horticulture.

“We’d still be there all weekend,” said Master Gardener CathyIvy about a Friday visit to Loyd Star Attendance Center, wherestudents asked 30 minutes worth of inquiries.

Like most interests in life, organization members think thatearly exposure to their craft is key to sprouting a gardeningminded society.

“You catch somebody’s fancy at that age, you might keep theirfancy,” said Edge. “They might become interested in other things,gardening for food, trees or horticulture.”

In addition to pedaling thoughts of soil and sunlight, theschool visits served to plant two flowers in one pot. Members arerequired to complete 18 hours of community service after theirfirst year to remain certified as a Master Gardener.

This is the second year the organization has uprooted anordinary class day to give students a special lesson. Plans for theeducational experience began in 2009, when Edge served as LCMGpresident. However, the group did not begin their school tripsuntil 2010.

“Hopefully, one day we’ll have Master Gardeners growing up andtaking our places,” said Breaux.