Teen Gardening Club Needs Teens

The Traverse Area District Library is a great place to read, research and relax. The library also offers a host of community programs. A program started last year by Linda Smith, Teen Gardening Club, is in its second year, and so far no one has shown up.

It was a warm, humid late morning Tuesday when I walked through the garden behind the library. Linda Smith greeted me with a friendly smile and waved me over to the garden boxes she was working on.

The garden boxes are lovely, and a bike is used as functional garden décor with a basket being used as a planter, as well as a helmet and the bike seat.

“This year we have some asparagus in the back and that’ll take a couple years before we can harvest it. We have some broccoli, tomato plants, and these are some leftover radishes from last year,” Linda said as she showed me the deep purple tops of the radishes.

Last year the Teen Gardening Club had five members. The group worked on the garden all summer, and at the end of the summer the vegetables that the teens put loving care into growing were picked and used in a salad with homemade dressing. The club dined together outside and enjoyed the veggies of their labor.

“I brought cutting boards and knives and a colander to clean things and wash things off and the kids cut everything up, prepared them, made a homemade salad dressing and we ate dinner together. I think there were seven of us that day. That was a lot of fun.”

Spending a summer in the dirt together fostered a bond between the members of the club.

“Any of the programs where they get together regularly, they end up making new friends and finding more community here at the library.”

Gardening seems to be one of those activities reserved for older generations. My grandmother has always had an immaculate garden in her backyard, carefully curated and cared for, and anything my mother touches in the garden will bloom and thrive.

Gardening has been proven to have a calming effect on anxiety, and being from a generation that suffers from many different forms of anxiety, it seems that this club would be a great way to turn off the noise and make friends.

Linda has planted this year’s garden alone in hopes that there will be teens who show up and want to help with tending to the garden.

The Teen Gardening Club runs from late May to early fall on Thursdays at 10 a.m., however, the club will switch over to Saturdays when the teens go back to school.

Linda wants teens to be able to feel like they have control over things in their lives. Teenage years can be a confusing and strange time for many. On one hand, they’re not a child anymore. On the other hand, they still have to ask to use the restroom in school. This purgatory of not being a kid, but not quite an adult can leave teens feeling frustrated and questioning what they do have control over.

“I want them to feel self-sufficient. You can have just a small bit of dirt somewhere and grow food for yourself. To see the life cycle of something. They need to feel a little sense of control, they’re getting ready to be adults. They may need or want to plant their own garden and this will give them the skills to do that.”

There is no pressure to know anything about gardening, the teens will learn as they go.

“We look things up online. When we were first planting the bed last year we did a lot of internet research.”

Linda hopes that some teens will come garden and gain some confidence with developing a new skill.

“If I can do it, I know that they can.”

Gardening is a great way to get some sun and unplug for an hour or so, and the Teen Gardening Club offers the benefits of gardening, along with a new group of friends to do it with.

Categories: GTPulse