One of my favorite collaborations is gardening with the Stateline Boys and Girls Club (SBGC) in Beloit. It is very satisfying to work with my hands in dirt that eventually produces food. It is even more satisfying when young people take an interest in gardening and help with the maintenance by watering, weeding, and collecting growth data.
2019 Alliant Energy Foundation Grant
Last year was the first time that Welty brought environmental education to SBGC during their summer day camp. The bi-weekly visits were funded by the Alliant Energy Foundation. Programming included collecting data in the garden beds. The kids recorded precipitation, light quality, temperature, soil temperature, soil pH levels, and the growth of plants. They discussed the data and made decisions about how to best care for the plants.
2020 Colonel Morse Foundation grant
This year’s programming is funded by the Colonel Morse Foundation. The funding includes hiring an intern who will provide the daily activities. It also supports time spent moving and expanding the SBGC’s garden beds (above). This project brings in the expertise of David Bendlin of the Rock County Conservationists (RCC). The RCC will also provide prairie pollinator plants, which will increase the types of observations and projects that can occur this year.
Kids will plant seeds in the beds…
To make use of the good weather and establish plants, the existing garden beds were moved on May 6, taking all precautions to stay healthy and safe. Much of the original soil was transferred, but Dave and I donated several bags of compost from each of our personal bins. It will be fun to have the kids dig a bit and find a banana peel, egg shells, and vegetable peelings. This will be a great way to discuss how soil is made and the importance of composting food scraps rather than putting them in the trash.
Connecting Kids to their Food
Regardless of the type of programming Welty is able to do this summer, this garden can be the home of plants and vegetables that provide pollinators (and campers!) nourishment. But more importantly, it will allow the kids to plant seeds that take root and grow into something useful and delicious, and lets them be a part of an essential natural process. And that connection is what makes this collaboration so rewarding to me!
…and become a part of an essential natural process.
Aaron Wilson Program Director, WEC