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Children learn from master gardeners

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer

At an age when most children are drawn to sweets, 7-year-old Holly Sieving has a new favorite snack – tomatoes.

“If they’re all red, they’re about to be ready,” she said. “Then you can pick them and you get to eat them for dinner. They taste really good.”

Holly is part of a master gardening class at the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada that meets every Monday morning.

The students work under the tutelage of master gardeners from the University of Nevada, Reno’s Cooperative Extension to plant and cultivate a vegetable garden at the club.

“We’re gardeners and we want a want a new generation of gardeners,” said master gardener Jean Moltz. “Everyone should know how to garden and enjoy vegetables.”

The children grow everything from pumpkins and carrots to onions and corn and from beans and bell peppers to squash and cantaloupe.

Richie Putnam, 8, has pulled some weeds around his own house and decided last year to expand into the gardening club. He joined again this year.

“It’s fun and you get to pick vegetables,” he said. “I like giving them to my mom because she likes salads.”

Salads have also become more popular among the young gardeners as they get a chance to sample the fruits of their labors.

“They try new things they’ve never tasted before, like hot peppers and chives,” said Melinda Fowler, the club’s education director.

Fowler initiated the club four years ago for children who may not have a garden or even a yard at home. The club has about 45 members and about 15 to 20 show up each week to work in the garden.

“It gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility,” she said. “They learn to take care of things. It’s a large sense of pride.”

Josh Lane, 12, decided to look into the club one day because he was bored. He liked it and has kept going.

“We get to learn about different kinds of plants and then we get to eat them,” he said.

Master gardener Marv Young, who sells produce raised in his half-acre garden at the Farmer’s Market, volunteers in the gardening club.

“It’s neat to teach them that the food they eat doesn’t come out of a grocery store,” he said. “Gardening is also a great hobby.”