(From left) Westside Summer Gardening Club participants Oliver Presa-Guzman, Delfina Presa-Guzman and Maddy Wedge, with the program’s co-lead Linda Woolley of the Bar Harbor Garden Club, cut zinnias at their plot at the Kelley Farm Preserve in Bernard.   PHOTO COURTESY OF BHGC 

Cultivating future gardeners on MDI 

BAR HARBOR — The Bar Harbor Garden Club and the Bass Harbor Memorial Library launched the Westside Summer Garden Club this summer, a first-time program designed to foster a lifelong interest in gardening and horticulture among area youth. The program, which began in June and ends this fall, is co-led by garden club members Douglas Heden and Linda Wooley with support from librarian Lisa Murray. 

Through hands-on gardening experience during three Saturday-morning sessions, young people are learning about gardening from planning to harvest. They prepare the soil, plant seedlings and tend vegetables and flowers. In the weeks between the Saturday sessions, the children water and weed the garden. 

Participating in the program are Delfina Presa-Guzman, 9, of Bass Harbor; Oliver Presa-Guzman, 7, of Bass Harbor; Riley Torell, 10, of Bernard; and Maddy Wedge, 12, of Southwest Harbor.   

At the first session in June, the children met under a tent outside the library to learn how to fold newspaper to make containers for growing seedlings. They planted cosmos, marigold, sunflower and bean seeds in their pots. They took their newspaper pots home, put them in a sunny window to water and watch for sprouts.  

Each child was given a gardening toolkit that contained garden gloves, a trowel a garden fork, pruners and a notebook. The group went to a large gardening plot at the Kelley Farm Preserve in Bernard where they planted tomato, pepper, lettuce and cucumber seedlings that were provided by BHGC.  

At the second session in July, the students planted their flower and bean seedlings and watered and weeded the vegetable seedlings growing in the garden. At the third session in August, the watering and weeding continued and the children began taking produce and flowers home. 

The program will wrap up in early September with a Harvest Party at Kelley Farm Preserve.  

Asked what she has learned so far from gardening this summer, Torell thought for a moment, then said, “Probably patience is most important – watching my little newspaper pots and waiting for the sprouts to come up. Also, I’ve learned that when things don’t turn out the way you expect, you have to figure it out. Should you water the plants more or water less?” 

The youth club is made possible by funding from the BHGC. The gardening toolkits were donated by Hammond Lumber. The club purchased vegetable seedlings and club members served as mentors. 

BHGC funds also covered creating 10 new community garden plots at the Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Kelley Farm Preserve. The 10-acre property is mostly open fields that slope down to Cousins Creek in upper Bass Harbor, but it also contained 10 existing community garden plots. The BHGC donated to MCHT eight of the 10 plots it created and used two of them for the Westside program.  

When Karina Guzman, mother of two program participants, was asked about the program, she said, “Passion and expertise shown by BHGC members for the success of our garden is truly inspiring. We will continue working in the garden for the rest of the summer, and we hope to repeat the experience next year.” 

The Bar Harbor Garden Club is a member of the Garden Club Federation of Maine, New England Garden Clubs and National Garden Clubs. For more information, go online to www.barharborgardenclub.org. 

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