The room at the rear of the Land O’ Lakes Community Center was buzzing with chatter as children made their way around the various stations — creating caterpillars out of egg cartons, turning peanut butter jars into terrariums, and creating worm condos out of recycled soda bottles.
Master gardeners from Pasco County Cooperative Extension shared their enthusiasm for gardening as they talked to the youngsters about worms, air plants and compost.
Master gardeners Mary Ellen Gotto, Juanita Fawley and Stan Groves helped Makenzie Haworth, 7, of New Tampa, as the young girl built a worm condo.
Amy Perkins, who is Makenzie’s mom, said the event helps connect kids with nature, and gives them a chance to experience gardening.
“It’s great exposure,” Perkins said.
“We put this on every year for children,” Gotto said. “It’s educational for children.”
Master gardener Chris Storch helped Caleb Hicks, 9, as he assembled his terrarium. The Connerton Elementary School student attended the event last year and wanted to come back when he heard it was being held again, said Land O’ Lakes resident Ted Beason, the boy’s grandfather.
Storch enjoys seeing the children’s delight.
“They love it, getting their hands dirty and digging into it,” the Lutz woman said.
Vicki Arndtz, a Pasco County master gardener from Zephyrhills, thinks the event gives children from all backgrounds a chance to learn the love of growing plants and vegetables.
“Not every child has an unlimited budget to experiment with gardening,” Arndtz said.
At the terrarium station, children could choose from a wide assortment of recycled containers. There were recycled peanut butter jars, a cheese puff container, pretzel jars and Beanie Babies collectible cases.
After selecting the container, the children added rocks, a weed cloth, soil, plants and decorative items, such as colored stones, gems and coins.
Carolyn Watson, of Land O’ Lakes, was there with her granddaughter, Grace Heller.
“My granddaughter and I love to plant plants together,” Watson said.
The 7-year-old, who attends Corbett Preparatory School, said she’s grown carrots, impatiens and miniature sunflowers with her grandmother.
The master gardeners share a passion for gardening, Arndtz said, and enjoy sharing their enthusiasm.
“Only an eclectic group like this could get excited over worm compost,” she said, laughing.
There’s always something new to learn, Storch said. For instance, gardeners who move to Florida from northern states have to learn about the spring and fall gardening seasons, she said.
“Timing is everything,” Storch said, especially when it comes to growing vegetables in Florida.
To learn more about the Pasco Cooperative Extension, visit Pasco.IFAS.UFL.edu.
For more information about gardening, visit http://solutionsforyourlife.com.
Published August 13, 2014
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