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Masters get young gardeners growing in the County

Young Gardeners celebrated, from left, with: Master Gardener Katie Middleton, Ethan Loft, Layla Loft, Vicki Emlaw, Calum Campbell, Patrick DeAraujo, Phillip DeAraujo, Master Gardener Colette McKinnon and Ezra McLuhan.

Prince Edward County’s Master Gardeners celebrated efforts to get young gardeners growing.

The Children’s Garden Award program, now in its third year, was started by Barbra Stock in 2018 to get children outdoors and learning about gardening. Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who provide free, balanced, non-judgmental advice to local gardeners. They are passionate about gardening and have taken the necessary training and commitments to become an official Master Gardener within the local chapter.

To qualify, participants must do the work themselves and keep a notebook of their activities and observations in their garden. Some started their own seeds in March and many purchased seedlings from Vicki’s Veggies, the host location for this year’s celebration of young gardeners.

Master Gardeners visit the gardens twice during the season and talk to the children about what they grew and what jobs they did, such as weeding, and watering. Many had markers with the name of their plants and several had built trellises to hold up their beans, and put in stakes to support tomatoes.

“We were amazed at the horticultural knowledge of these kids – some as young as seven,” said Ren Duinker , co-ordinator with the Prince Edward County Master Gardeners. “They knew about water preservation, understood composting, spacing, and fertilizing.”

Children’s Garden Award program participants tasted fresh herbs and toured the gardens at Vicki’s Veggies.

The participants were invited to bring their families to celebrate at the year-end awards ceremony.

“Vicki started our day off by giving the kids a tour of her gardens and a fresh herb tasting,” Duinker noted. “Then we moved on to the awards.”

This year there were so many entries, the Master Gardeners divided the contest into Senior (age 10-12) and Junior (age 6-9).

Senior awards winners with Master Gardeners Colette McKinnon and Vicki Emlaw  were: first place – Cooper Vandenburg, third place – Abby Rumig. Second Place was awarded to Elise and Maya Burkinshaw who were unable to attend the awards ceremony.

In the Senior awards, first place went to Cooper Vandenburg, second place was awarded to Elise and Maya Burkinshaw who were unable to attend the Awards Ceremony and third place – to Abby Rumig.

Junior gardener winners, from left, were: first place – Simon and Oliver Hill, third place – Eve Maggiacomo and second place – Abbigail Wemyss.

In the Junior division, third prize was awarded to Eve Maggiacomo, second prize went to Abbigail Wemyss and first prize to Simon and Oliver Hill.

The Hill brothers were declared overall winners.

“Just as we could not choose one garden over another with the twin girls, Elise and Maya Burkinshaw, in the senior division. Simon and Oliver’s gardens were also equally impressive, and we gave the top prize to both of them.”

Simon and Oliver Hill with their trophy

“There were so many incredible gardens maintained by these young gardeners, it was a very difficult decision,” said Duinker. “In the end, it came down to who had the best notebook. The winners made detailed notes, beginning with a drawing of their plan for the garden. They included recordings when they weeded, watered and the condition of their plants. Their notebooks were tidy and well written.

Leila Fiouzi, mother of Oliver and Simon, said she just wanted her boys to be outside this summer and learn something. An avid gardener herself, she told the boys to do their best and have fun.

The trophy is on display at the Picton Library until next year’s young gardeners compete.

Click here to visit the PEC Master Gardeners website

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