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Garfield Park opens Children’s Garden

Moon and Stars watermelon © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Moon and Stars watermelon © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Garfield Park staff and supporters have transformed a vacant gravel lot into a Children’s Garden, rich with a bounty of fruits, vegetables and a haven for wildlife.

At a recent open house, Glen Schroering showed off his raised bed garden to his parents. Glen works the bed with Josh Westin, a sixth grade classmate at Hoosier Academy on Indianapolis’ southside.

On this night, Glen, 11, a second-year Junior Master Gardener, harvested an heirloom watermelon called ‘Moon & Stars,’ and fingerling potatoes. “I like planting seeds and watching the plants grow,” he said.

Starting young — Glen Schroering, 11, harvested ‘Moon & Stars,’ an heirloom watermelon at Garfield Park’s Children’s Garden. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Starting young — Glen Schroering, 11, harvested ‘Moon & Stars,’ an heirloom watermelon at Garfield Park’s Children’s Garden. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

His mother was duly impressed. “It’s amazing what you can get. We had a lot of good green beans,” said Jill Schroering.

Amy Dirks, an environmental educator at the park, said about 22 children grew produce in the raised beds this year. Several other children and volunteers helped plant pond, wetland, prairie, butterfly, bird, herb and pizza gardens, strawberries, raspberries and fruit trees. There’s also a garden with plants representing each letter of the alphabet. The gardens are part of the park’s environmental education program.

The children also have a compost pile and Dirks arranged with a local beekeeper to keep a hive in the northeast corner of the garden to help with pollination of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Next year, they hope to have their first crop of honey, she said. This year, extra produce is being shared with a neighborhood soup kitchen.

Except for salaries, few public dollars were used in the development of the garden. Dirks and her Garfield colleagues garnered donations of money, materials, plants or labor from local and national businesses and not-for-profit groups.

For more information about volunteering or supporting the garden, contact Dirks, (317) 327-7580, or adirks@indygov.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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