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Growing life skills through garden camp

A portion of participants in the Garden 'n Grow Program (KTVO)

For 18 years, the summer camp, Garden ‘n Grow has been combining dirt, life skills, and growing a love for the simple things.

The camp is put on through the University of Missouri Extension office, with the help of volunteers, for area youth.

Twice a week for an hour and a half, starting days after school gets out, campers get to claim a plot of land, and tend to it.

“It’s fun, we get to pick vegetables, water them,” said Carly Willis, 11-year-old Garden ‘n Grow camp participant.

“We learn about growing vegetables, and we pick them,” said Joey, Carly’s twin brother.

The class covers the planting to the picking phases of gardening, as well as what to do with the freshly grown veggies.

“We are here to teach the students about growing a garden, the proper way to grow a garden, how to plant, how to water, how to properly fertilize, how to properly harvest your produce, and when it should be harvested,” said Jennifer Schutter, coordinator for the Garden ‘n Grow camp at the Adair County University of Missouri Extension Office.

“We make pickles during the program and we also make salsa, so we teach them ways that they can use their produce, and they like it, they like to eat it and experiment with different ways to prepare the produce.”

It’s something they can’t do in front of a screen.

“You can tell it came from their garden, fresh, you don’t even have to go to the store to get it, some of the things we grow you can’t find in stores.” said Melanie Cody.

“You know that you actually grew these vegetables and you actually get to go home and have them and eat them and make stuff with them,” Carly said.

Changing perspectives, and growing knowledge, to use for a lifetime.

“At first I didn’t like to eat vegetables, and then when I tried them I liked them,” Carly said.

“We hope to instill life skills that they can continue to use as they grow up and have their own families and hopefully teach their own children about gardening and healthy eating, and we teach them that growing your own food is one way to be more sustainable as well as provides you with healthy food,” said Schutter.

The camp will meet for the last time this summer on Thursday.

If your little one is already looking ahead to the end of the school year, just contact the Adair County Missouri Extension Office to sign up for next summer’s camp.

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