YORK – Dylan Munn wasn’t exactly sure what okra was, but she planted one shoot after another Sunday at Zach’s Farm in York.

Dylan, 12, is one of 15 or so kids from the Coastal Clovers 4-H Club who got their hands dirty Sunday to grow vegetables for the club’s Food for Families garden project.

The garden is in its third year and has produced more than 7,000 pounds of produce from 20 varieties of fruits and vegetables for local food pantries.

Dylan, a member of the club for the past year, said she likes helping people and giving food and blankets to people who need them.

“It makes me feel happy to see their happy faces,” she said.

The garden is planned, planted, maintained and harvested by the kids in the club and their families. The farm donates the use of the land.

Russ Osgood, who started the club six years ago, said the youngsters planted three 800-foot-long rows of crops. The end result will include cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, broccoli, cabbage and four types of squash. The club also tends crops at Osgood’s home in York, where they built 10 3-by-5-foot raised beds with a grant the club received from the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

“The most important thing is that they are giving back to their communities,” Osgood said. “doing this project, we’re growing more than crops. We are growing some responsible citizens for the future.”

One of those citizens is Carly Osgood, his 12-year-old daughter. Carly, a sixth-grader at York Middle School, expressed an interest in farming a few years ago. Carly said the project has been a life-changing experience.

“I saw how much food we grew and how quickly it ran out,” Carly said. “It made me want to do more. This will be a lot of food here. I’m in the community. I’m helping. It’s a special feeling.”

Carly’s sister, Haleigh Osgood, 8, said the club takes on new challenges each year. Last winter, its members participated in a project to make blankets for homeless people living in York County. The group donated about 100 blankets to local shelters.

The parents proudly stood on the sidelines Sunday and watched their children garden. Dwight Bardwell, of York, was there with this 10-year-old daughter Zoe. He said it’s a great project that teaches kids about farming, community service, and giving back to the community.

“It gets them outdoors,” Bardwell said. “That’s the number one thing.”

At the end of one row, Zoe planted acorn squash. She said she’d never even eaten it before.

“It’s fun working with people and we are helping at the same time,” Zoe said. “It feels good to help, knowing how much we have. We have so much food.”

The 4-H program is run by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the 4-H Council/USDA.

Osgood said the kids range in age from 5 to 16 years old. He said it’s a wonderful program.

“These kids are the youngest university students you will know,” Osgood said. “These little 5-year-old kids have the resource of the university at their hands.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com