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Showing Kids the Garden of Their Dreams

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Campers in front of barn.
The group of campers plus counselors convenes in front of the barn at the Bonnie Plants Trial Garden.

By Cheryl Lange

What do you get when you have about 80 first-through-fifth graders visit the Bonnie Plants Trial Garden in Union Springs, Alabama? Answer: A lot of “out of the mouths of children” moments.

Dream Field Farms, founded and managed by Bonnie Plants employees Cathy and Tom Ellis, treated their day campers to a visit to the Bonnie Plants Trial Garden in Union Springs, Alabama. The children strolled through the garden, touching, smelling, and even tasting the vegetables and herbs. Their excitement increased as they “found” a HUGE zucchini and “tons” of tomatoes.

Girls trying gold cherry tomatoes.
Two campers try Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes for the first time and agree that they taste like candy!

While searching the sweet potato raised bed for sweet potatoes, one young camper asked; “Where are the sweet potatoes?” We explained that potatoes grow in the soil. In disbelief he exclaimed: “In the dirt! What are they doing in the dirt?”

Another squeal rose up a few rows over, “Look at that giant onion!”

“No,” we explained, “that’s a tomato.”

Each child filled a container with soil, planted tomatoes or herbs, and watered their new prized possession. We spoke to the campers about planting tomatoes deep and how some herbs can be utilized as mosquito repellants.

Kids in garden with corn plants.
Cathy leads the group of kids through the garden, stopping at a box full of tall corn.

It warmed all our hearts to provide this opportunity for the kids. For some, it was the first time they had seen corn on a stalk and cucumbers hanging from a vine or tasted sweet mint.

Overheard from one child as they left the garden: “This is the best day of my life.” I have no doubt future gardeners were seeded that day!

Kids smelling mint leaves.
Cathy Ellis shares mint leaves and their fresh fragrance with the kids.