If you can dream it, you can do it. That’s what Northumberland-Lancaster agent Jaime Packett learned when he started the Northumberland Junior Gardeners 4-H Club in 2008.
The Northumberland-Lancaster County Farm Bureau in Heathsville, where Packett works, donated a plot of land behind the office and allowed the club to use the conference room for bi-monthly meetings. The county Farm Bureau board also made a monetary donation.
“They’ve been great and have given us a lot of support,” Packett said.
His inspiration was his 9-year-old daughter, Madison. He wanted to start an educational gardening and horticulture club that could involve both children and their parents.
“My mission was to involve the community and families,” Packett said. He was able to accomplish that with the help of Julie Tritz, Northumberland County Extension agent and 4-H youth coordinator.
The club is open to children in grades 3 to 5 and currently has six members.
“I like gardening,” Madison said. “With the garden we have more fresh air and food.”
Madison and the other club members said they enjoy the experiments that Education Coordinator Christopher Barnes teaches the club, such as how to make vegetable paper out of dried cucumbers and how to grow colored flowers using seeds, water, and food coloring.
Recently, the club’s meeting space and garden moved to Northumberland Elementary School, providing an opportunity for more children and their parents to participate.
“Moving the club to the school makes it easier on parents, since it’s now an after-school program,” Packett said. “Also, we’ll have more space. The garden will be six times bigger now.”
Last year, the club entered some of its produce in the Richmond County Fair, and each club member won several first- and second-place ribbons.
This year, the club has applied for a $3,500 grant for raised-bed building materials, seeds, berry bushes and fruit trees, topsoil, compost, fencing materials, garden tools, and a garden shed.
“This is a really great idea for more counties to get involved with,” Packett said. “It’s a fun way for Farm Bureaus to get involved and promote agriculture.”