Kids dig into new gardening program | ParkRecord.com
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Kids dig into new gardening program

High Star Farm manager Carol Allen shows Emery Peters, Phineas Hailey and Griffin Williams how to create a "wall of water" to protect a new tomato plant. (Photo by Phoebe Hailey)
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For preschool-age children, seeing a carrot pulled out of the ground is comparable to seeing a rabbit pulled out of a hat. Learning how to make that happen is nothing short of magic.

A couple of months ago, a group of local parents and gardeners started brainstorming about how to plant seeds of curiosity in the minds of young Parkites.

Enter Dig It, a children’s organic garden project designed to teach local kids what goes into growing food. The program is run by Carol Allen, manager of High Star Farm in Kamas; Carrie McGowan, a volunteer instructor; and local parents like Phoebe Hailey.

High Star Farm is an all-organic garden in its first growing season. It is part of High Star Ranch, a resort at the base of the Uinta Mountains that is in early stages of development.

Allen and Hailey recently launched a pilot program with about 10 kids ages 4 to 6. Hailey, who has a 4-year-old son, put the word out among fellow preschool parents to gauge interest and garnered immediate interest. "It seems like there’s a need for this in the community," she says.

The project received a $500 startup grant from Park City Foundation’s Small Grants Pilot Program. High Star Farm donated a 60-by-20-foot plot of land, irrigation, setup, and the instructors’ time and expertise. Each family paid $50 to cover the cost of seeds, composting materials and other expenses.

During their first day at the farm last month, the kids took a tour and were able to taste fresh vegetables along the way. "They got the bigger picture of what their garden would look like," Allen explains.

The students have traveled to the farm for three hour-long sessions so far. They prepped the ground and planted vegetables including potatoes, carrots, radishes, turnips, tomatoes, squash, beans, cucumbers and a variety of leafy greens.

The program encourages family involvement and siblings are welcome to participate. "It provides an opportunity for family learning," Hailey says.

Besides the inherent lessons about responsibility and teamwork, the kids have learned about composting, which bugs are good and which are bad, and how to protect fledgling tomato plants.

They also have a new appreciation for why they should eat their veggies. "It’s difficult to get kids to enjoy healthy foods," Hailey says. "It’s so important to start nutritious eating at a young age."

The group is on a hiatus from meeting while the vegetables take root. Once the produce begins to flourish, the kids will take some veggies home and sell the rest at the Park Silly Sunday Market farmers’ market, which is sponsored in part by High Star Ranch. Proceeds from sales will be used to reinvest in the program.

Allen and Hailey say they hope to continue the program next year and would like to open it to children of different ages. Transportation to the farm and other considerations are also on their radar. "We’d love to do it all over again," Allen says.

For more information about Dig It, contact Allen at 901-0538 or carolallen8@gmail.com or Hailey at 901-0413.


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