Congratulations to the Fairhope-Point Clear Rotary Youth JMG Club for being the October group of the month. What an exciting summer for these volunteers and young people. This was a two-month summer project led by the Baldwin County Master Gardeners Association (BCMGA) and the Local Food Production Initiative (LFPI). The 12 young people participating in the program had just completed the school year and were participating in the summer program at the Fairhope-Point Clear Rotary Youth Club.
The vision of this project began last winter when some of the BCMGA and members of LFPI came together. The LFPI was responsible for designing and building the garden at the Rotary Youth Club and the BCMGA along with Alabama Cooperative Extension System were responsible for the curriculum development. Debbie Calhoun, Master Gardener and JMG group leader, worked with Cynthia Knowlton, 4-H regional Extension agent (REA), to find the appropriate curriculum. The Junior Master Gardener (JMG) curriculum was a natural fit for the group.
The JMG program began in early June and ran for six weeks. The 12 young people experienced many things during these six weeks. The group met twice a week and took field trips to local farms, participated in the JMG activities, and planted and maintained the garden at the Rotary Youth Center. One of the participants in the program, Kyra Asberry, spoke of how much she learned while having so much fun.
"The young people experienced hands-on learning throughout the program each time they met," said Knowlton.
At the end of the six weeks, each participant completed the requirements and became a certified member of JMG. On July 28th, a graduation ceremony and celebration was held at the youth center where each participant went home with a framed JMG certificate, JMG certified pin and other rewards.
Plans for this program to continue are already underway. Currently, the group is planting the fall garden and planning for the rest of the year. The recent graduates of the JMG program will be choosing the next group of young people to participate in the program and become mentors for this new group. Plans are also in place to develop a small fruit, citrus and berry orchard near the garden as well as improving the compost bins and building water cisterns. During the winter months, the group will be learning about propagation by planting seeds and discovering other forms of propagation in a nearby shed using grow lights.
This group has been very successful because of the hard work of many volunteers. Calhoun led over 15 Master Gardener volunteers, members of the Fairhope Rotary Club and the LFPI. Funds for this project were generated through donations from the BCMGA, Baldwin County Extension Office, Fairhope-Point Clear Rotary Club and the LFPI.
Luci Davis is the State Junior Master Gardener Coordinator. For more information on the program, phone (334) 703-7509.