The raised garden beds at Thanksgiving Point’s Farm Country are under six inches of snow right now, but the Junior Master Gardener 4-H Club, part of Utah State University’s Extension 4-H program, will start to meet on January 28 to learn what to plant and how to care for those plants.
The Junior Master Gardeners will meet at Farm Country once a month to plan the garden, choose plants to start in the greenhouse, plant crops, and harvest produce to take home. “Through authentic outdoor experiences, Junior Master Gardeners learn where food comes from, how it grows and the importance of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet,” says the registration guide for Thanksgiving Point’s club. This program is sponsored by Intermountain Healthcare.
The Junior Master Gardener or “JMG” program is an “international youth gardening program of the University Cooperative Extension network. JMG engages children in novel, ‘hands-on’ groups and individual learning experiences to encourage a love of gardening, to develop an appreciation for the environment, and to cultivate the mind” (jmgkids.us).
The benefits to children who participate in growing their own fruits and vegetables are many. A Louisiana State University study showed that the impact of hands-on gardening as part of classroom activities improved science achievement test scores. The results of several studies showed that children who grew their own produce had better physical and mental health, reduced stress levels and lower blood pressure.
Utah State University offers curriculum for Discover 4-H Clubs in 43 different subject– everything from 4-H Dairy Heifer Clubs, 4-H Cake Decorating Clubs, 4-H Kitchen Science Clubs, and even 4-H Emergency Preparedness Clubs: “Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse.” Forms to join or start a 4-H club are available online at https://utah4h.org/discover.