The De Smet News

Intergenerational gardening brings together kids and seniors

Intergenerational gardening brings together kids and seniors

Intergenerational gardening is a new concept here and it sprung out of the Growing Youth program started last year by Beth Poppen and Britney Kaufman.

Poppen and Kaufman formed the Growing Youth program after having brunch one day. They got to talking about helping with the livestock and gardens that were part of their daily responsibilities growing up.

They simply decided to proceed. They started the garden near Poppen’s residence and about a dozen kids signed up.

After collaborating with Tanya Flegel of the Kingsbury Conservation District, Cheryl Palmlund, a master gardener, and Kaitlin Johnson, administrator of the De Smet Good Samaritan Center, the intergenerational concept was born.

Johnson had looked at similar projects in Europe. It looked like a concept that was a win for everyone and that it would work here.

“It seemed like a great fit for us,” Poppen said of moving the garden to the Good Samaritan Center. “It would give the residents something to do, plus they have so much experience to pass on.”

Poppen said she and Kaufman wanted to work with kids, They wanted the kids to learn where their food comes from and they wanted the kids to learn some of the values that she and Kaufman had learned in 4-H and FFA, the values of responsibility, commitment, leadership, communication, teamwork and personal growth.

So they moved the garden to land behind the Good Samaritan Center. They also added a couple of growing boxes at wheelchair height so it would be easier for residents to help the kids who came to work in the garden.

Poppen said they’d like to raise some money to build a sidewalk out to the main garden and get some shade constructed so it would be possible for more residents to participate. The land around the big garden is uneven enough that it makes it difficult to get wheelchairs and walkers out there.

Poppen said one of the big advantages about having the residents involved is they get to visit and share stories with the kids while working.

She remembers snapping beans and shucking peas with her grandparents and is pleased to be able to introduce the kids to a similar situation.

“Something I really appreciate learning from my grandparents is learning to enjoy your work,” she said.

The kids have planted, weeded, watered and tasted the produce that they’ve grown. Some have liked what’s come from their garden. Others have shown their dislike for various vegetables.

Hadley Buckmiller, 5, tried a new vegetable last week — asparagus. She said it’s her new favorite.

This week’s new vegetable was zucchini. Poppen had cooked some in olive oil and salt and the children tried it.

Most of them liked zucchini. But Emiline Lenz screwed up her face and declared she didn’t like it at all.

Growing vegetables isn’t all that the kids have experienced. Palmlund, as a master gardener, has talked to the kids about good and bad insects. They’ve even looked at some bugs up close through magnifying glasses.

Grant Griffith, 7, says they are sometimes overworked because they have to pull lots of weeds and water the garden. But not all is serious, because the day frequently ends in a water fight, Poppen said.

Most of the kids involved are ages 5 to 13. But there are a few high schoolers and they have volunteered to help with the younger kids.

Some 40 to 45 kids signed up this year, Poppen said, and there are usually a couple of dozen each week at their Monday afternoon meeting time.

“We try not to make it too rigid because everyone has a lot going on,” Poppen noted, indicating there aren’t any strict attendance rules.

There are kids from De Smet, Iroquois, Lake Preston and Bancroft participating.

The project will continue into this fall until it freezes because there are some things in the garden that won’t mature until later. Poppen said they will probably meet later in the day once school starts.

Flegel said there is still a lot of time for anyone interested to come out and see what’s going on.

“Anyone is welcome to visit,” she said.

The group meets at 3 p.m. Mondays at the Good Samaritan Center. That is coffee time for the residents.

The anticipation and excitement among the kids is quite apparent.

Logan Griffith said they found one red tomato last week. He hoped to find more ripe ones this week.

Most of the tomatoes we saw were still green. And we don’t know if Logan found more ripe ones.

If he didn’t, he surely will in the days ahead.

Posted on 08-06-2018

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