Spotlight on the Children’s Garden at Myers Park
By Tara Roberts and contributor Carol Joy Jeffreys, CCMGA Master Gardeners
What better way to teach children about nature than to get them gardening early? This is the exact mission of the Children’s Garden at Myers Park in McKinney which began in 2017 using funds provided by Whole Foods 5% Giving Day. The initial gardens were designed by Master Gardener Angela Hooper.
The vision for the garden was to create a place for children to learn about nature and gardening while on school field trips, scouting workshops or visits with their parents. The Collin County Master Gardeners believe it is important to teach children about gardening to help them connect with nature and learn where our food comes from at an early age. Introducing a child to gardening increases their awareness of how and why plants are important to our environment and food supply. Through gardening children can learn how to help pollinators and why they are so important.
Leading the charge at the Children’s Garden is Carol Joy Jeffreys. She has been the garden manager over this area for six years and has been a Collin County Master Gardener for 10 years.
“I get to interact with kids and get them excited about gardening and teach them how their food grows. Introducing them to herbs is very fun and in the children’s garden I encourage touching and smelling,” Jeffreys said. “We often see pollinators in the garden and learn about what they like. I emphasize Earth-Kind gardening principles including how to water, mulch, and make plant selections.”
Visitors to the Children’s Garden will find fruit, shrubs, perennials, annuals, grasses, vegetables and herbs. There are two areas of the garden. The front area has large raised learning beds used for crops and teaching planting techniques and smaller beds for bulbs and flowers. The second section of garden is across a grass walkway and includes a bed for herbs, annual beds, vegetable beds, beds for trees or shrubs, and two beds for fruit vines with perennials. There are a total of 16 beds of different sizes and dimensions. Drip irrigation is in all the beds and lessons on drip irrigation are taught as well.
Almost all the vegetables and annuals are grown at home from seed beginning in February and are transplanted to the garden in later April. Growing in the garden for Spring 2023: peppers, tomatoes, marigolds, Mexican sunflowers, calendula, bronze fennel and basil.
“Take children into the garden and teach them how to plant and take care of plants. Let them choose a plant and help them go through the entire planting and care of the plant,” Jeffreys says. “Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. It takes time to learn. Just a container is a good place to start. Knowing what plants need to grow is helpful. Have fun!”
She suggests introducing children to gardening by trying to grow zinnias, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, marigolds and sunflowers.
The primary work season in the Children’s Garden begins with garden preparation in late February and continues through mid-November. Volunteers work in the gardens three days per week on average.
Like all the gardens at Myers Park, the public has access to the Children’s Garden Monday-Friday during normal park hours. Groups can make arrangements to visit the garden by contacting CCMGA through our website.
CCMGA will host a special event in the coming weeks. The annual A Walk in the Park will be held on Saturday, June 3, from 9 a.m. until noon. During the event the Children’s Garden will host several learning activities aimed at children from K-5th grade.
We hope you will share your interest in gardening with the next generation and help lead the charge to grow new gardeners!
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