The Bar Harbor Garden Club Youth Gardening Program is in its second year and keeps evolving. Last year’s program took place solely in Bernard, in cooperation with the Bass Harbor Memorial Library. This year’s program is in conjunction with the Maine Cooperative Extension Service and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which owns both Kelley Farm and Babson Creek. The program is aimed at middle school students and draws from all of MDI and Trenton.
The gardening classes are run through the Cooperative Extension’s “Kids Can Grow” program, and are taught by local master gardeners. Each class includes instruction, as well as hands-on participation both in the classroom and in the garden. Classes take place every other Tuesday throughout the summer at the barn at Babson Creek. Participants have raised beds at Babson Creek that they planned, planted, and tend.
The Babson Creek program is supplemented by the gardening program at Kelley Farm, sponsored by BHGC, which has three large plots there. With assistance from BHGC members, youth participants planted and tend the Kelley Farm plots. This year, we are growing tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, Swiss chard, squash, pumpkins, onions, peppers, and lettuce. Assuming all grows well, we anticipate having a surplus as we did last year. We plan to donate the surplus to the Bar Harbor Food Pantry, which holds a weekly market where anyone can “shop” for free.
In preparation for gardening at Kelley Farm last summer, the BHGC donated both resources and labor to expand the Kelley Farm Garden by a third. We developed ten additional plots, as well as provided deer fencing and irrigation for those new plots. The BHGC also provided youth participants with gardening tools, gloves, and a weeding basket.
It is our hope to expand the “Kids Can Grow” program in its entirety to the Kelley Farm next summer. This would provide a convenient location for a summer enrichment activity to youth on the Quiet Side of MDI.
—Linda Woolley and Doug Heden, BHGC Co-chairs