This article by Brenda Harvieux originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Northern Gardener.
After interviewing Sue Humble, the Chisago County Master Gardener program coordinator, in 2017 about their community garden in North Branch, I learned that they do garden programming for children, too, and suggested they check out MSHS’ Garden-in-a-Box program. They joined in 2018 and received six garden kits.
Four were planted in the community garden behind the library. Michelle Olson, a new graduate of the Master Gardener program, took the lead on the educational programing. The Master Gardeners partnered with the library’s summer reading program, the community education summer program and local Girl Scouts to get kids in the garden.
Lessons on good and bad bugs, nutrition, plant diseases, tending the gardens and parts of the plants to eat made kids excited to try the food they helped grow. “One little girl ate basil leaves right from the garden—she couldn’t get enough of it!” says Sue. Having the Garden-in-a-Box gardens in the larger community garden allowed children to grow additional plants and showed the kids different ways to grow food.
After fun in the garden, the kids read, and the librarian added books on plants and gardening to the recommended titles she pulled from the shelves.
The other two Garden-in-a-Box kits were sponsored by members of the Kost Church and given to a local family with five children. The boxes were placed in their yard and gardening became a welcomed new family activity.
MSHS will be accepting applications for our Garden-in-a-Box program in early spring.