By Stefanie Donahue
Last month marked the start of the eight-week Grow For It! after-school program in Blaine.
Sponsored by Let’s Move! Blaine, the program offers participants the chance to take part in a slew of hands-on gardening activities under the direction of expert volunteers. The program kicked off during Kid’s Gardening Month on April 11 and runs through May 30.
“It’s all about increasing activity for kids as well as improving nutritional choice,” said Kelle Sunter, board member with Let’s Move! Blaine and Blaine Community Orchards for Resources and Education (C.O.R.E.).
Grow For It! is offered to students at Blaine Elementary School in grades 3–5 for $30. The eight-week class is offered weekly at the school or at the 7th Street Community Garden, where students are tasked with planting, growing and maintaining their own veggie garden.
During the program, students learn about seeds, worms and composting, water and rain barrels as well as bees and pollinators. The program is coordinated by Blaine Elementary School teacher and Let’s Move! Blaine founder and board member Dan Persse and each lesson builds on the one prior, Sunter said.
“Research shows that kids who get outside during the school day have better academic success,” read a statement released by Let’s Move! Blaine after the program kicked off. “David Sobel, author and senior faculty in the education department at Antioch University New England is clear, ‘Garden-based learning and being with plants, soil, and fresh air restores children’s attention. This allows them to engage more with the content they are being taught.’”
On the first day of the program, participants got their hands dirty planting starts and seeds in the community garden. They also built trellises for pea plants. Next, they learned about how seeds grow and later took a tour through the new greenhouse at Blaine High School. The upcoming class will focus on pollination and its importance to food and seed production.
Program organizers are also encouraging participants to sign up to become a “Garden Angel.” The title would award them the responsibility of caring for portions of the community garden for a week during the summer under the direction of an on-site master gardener, Sunter said.
Aside from Let’s Move! Blaine and Blaine Elementary School, the program is also sponsored by the Blaine Boys & Girls Club, the Blaine Community Garden, Blaine C.O.R.E. and WSU Whatcom Master Gardeners.
To learn more, visit letsmoveblaine.net or follow the organization on Facebook by searching “Let’s Move Blaine.”