We are excited to announce after extensive planning, our Green Thumb Learning Garden is in full swing!

The Club Garden is managed by our Healthy Lifestyles Program Facilitator Amy Staats.  Amy is providing a blog with updates on everything the Garden Club kiddos are doing to learn while having fun!  Hands-on projects take place both indoor and outdoor and we’ve got photos and details… 

 See below to read Amy’s Garden Blog! 




With the school year coming to a close, the top performing Garden Club members from the year and I went on a field trip to the OSU Master Gardeners Discovery Garden in Roseburg. We took a tour of the garden which included a compost section, butterfly garden, Japanese garden and everyone’s favorite, the Children’s garden. After taking a tour and checking out all of the interactive sections and features the garden has, we set off on a scavenger hunt! In 3 teams of 3-4, the kids ran around looking for different objects like a “y” shaped branch, a rose, and a spider web, and then took pictures of the objects with digital cameras. The first team that found and snapped a picture of all 14 of the items got a treat! The day was extremely successful overall and kids who were able to attend the field trip have been fantastic participants over the past year. We will be taking a short hiatus from normal Garden Club activities with summer break starting, but members will still  maintaining our garden during the Boys and Girls Club’s STEAM summer camps. Stay tuned!              

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This past week, the Green Thumb Garden Club has been busy with garden construction, transplanting our seedlings from a few weeks ago into the outdoor garden, and starting new ones indoors for late summer produce.  As of yesterday, we have radishes, onions, cucumbers, snap peas, and pole beans planted! With these initial veggies, we’ve taken the opportunity to practice new gardening techniques including straw bale gardening, making our own seed tape and using it to plant tiny seeds, and hardening off some of our small seedlings before transplanting them outside. The last frost date is still a bit of a concern in the forecast even though we’ve been having consistent 80 degree days, but we are excited to get the tomatoes, peppers, and other heat loving-veggies in the ground soon. Garden Club now officially has over 100 members and is going strong



The Green Thumb Garden Club members had another fun and successful Pedal Power session in which we powered a blender and made healthy smoothies! A couple of weeks ago, we had a smoothie recipe contest where the kids were able to submit their own original recipes and with the incentive of creating the winning creation during Pedal Power. Lily won the contest with her strawberry banana peach smoothie with a touch of spinach. Everyone loved it, even the kids who were apprehensive about “drinking” spinach. In total, about 50 participants contributed to generating enough energy to run the blender about 100 times over the course of 3 hours. We doubled the number of riders that we usually have participating in Pedal Power making it our most successful session so far!





Happy (belated) Earth Day! The Green Thumb Garden Club kids celebrated the day with various activities emphasizing recycling and keeping our planet and environment healthy. Some of the kids participated in creating a giant owl mural using recycled newspapers from earlier in the week. Others participated in a trash clean-up around the playground and blacktop. Most of the Garden Club kids had planted sunflower seeds earlier in the week and enjoyed seeing them sprout and will continue to care for them until they’re taken home!




We have been very busy over the past week planting seedlings for our garden and for the kids to take home. Over the past few days, we’ve gotten red onions and chive starts in the ground as well as cucumber and cantaloupe seeds started indoors. We will be planting the majority of our vegetables in the next few weeks as we will be in the clear from the last frost date. I have been so impressed with the kid’s eagerness to be involved with the process in whatever way they can! They love to get their hands dirty and have shown so much responsibility in caring for their plants and seedlings.



After finishing up watering our plants for the day, club members were welcome to participate in a drawing contest where they had to come up with their own superhero, or villain! The characters were based on their favorite fruit, vegetable, or plant, and the participants had to describe the superpower they had based on the specific food or plant. I got a ton of creative and funny submissions including Pineapple Girl who shoots her spikes out at people, Super Carrot who fires his carrot teeth at people, and flying Potato Man. Activities outside the physical perimeters of the garden are aimed at incorporating healthy food into the kid’s lives in an abstract, fun way!

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Over the weekend, I met a community member who gave me and the Garden Club kids a very special gift. After telling him about the program I run at the Boys & Girls Club and about Green Thumb Garden Club, he preceded to hand me an envelope with seeds his grandfather brought over from Italy in 1920. He insisted on sharing some and told me to plant them with the Garden Club kiddos and enjoy the Italian pole beans they would become!





Check out the link below to see an article Douglas County Master Gardeners published about our vermicompost project in their April newsletter! The article can be found on page 9 of the PDF.







We have officially planted our first seeds of the year! After finishing up the conditioning phase, the garden club kids were able to plant some snap peas in the bales. We all took turns sowing the seeds into small soil-filled holes/grooves we made and then gave them a good soak. We’re predicted to have an unusually hot and dry week coming up so we will be in the garden every day watering as the bales tend to not hold moisture very well. With all luck, we should see our seedlings sprout within the next week.









Thanks to a generous member of the Douglas County Master Gardeners, I received some assistance with starting a vermicompost system for the kids. Vermicomposting is the process of composting using worms to create a mixture of decomposed food scraps, bedding materials, and casting. The mixture is a dirt-like fertilizer extremely high in nutrients that can be used in our garden beds. After creating the bins and putting the worms in their new home, the kids collected fruit, vegetable and bread scraps from lunch and tore up newspaper for the worms to start eating. We discussed how this is a form of recycling and reducing waste since we will be taking materials normally put in the trash and returning them to the garden to eventually grow more food. Before feeding the worms, we took the opportunity to observe and handle some of them which was easily the kids’ favorite part of the day!IMG_3577









Our garden is one step closer to completion! With the help of a few of our staff members along with some community volunteers, we were able to level the site, lay out the perimeter bed, and till up the soil where the inner beds will be. I had the kids come out once we were done with the heavy machinery and fill in some of the blocks to give them a bit more weight and make the structure sturdy before the rebar is in place.




The kids were on spring break this past week which meant an extremely busy and activity-filled time for the kids at the Club. We kicked off the week with pedal power smoothies which we have been looking forward to since receiving the system! Over the course of an hour and a half, about 15 kids were able to generate enough electricity on the bike to power the blender enough times to make about 8 pitchers of smoothies. This came out to roughly 50 smoothies that the participants were able to enjoy and share with the other Club members.  We were able to see how much more pedal power a blender requires compared to the radio and lava lamp that we’ve been charging up over the past month. It was awesome to see everyone cheering on the bikers and working together to get delicious treats when done. The kids voted on making strawberry banana smoothies, and were surprised at how good they tasted even after I added some spinach! We plan on making many more smoothies in the future, especially with ingredients that we will be growing and harvesting in our garden soon.



Check out some pictures from watering the bales! We’ve had beautiful weather over the past week so the kids have had no problem getting a little wet to help with the conditioning phase every day. They seem to be fascinated that we will be able to grow actual plants in something other than the ground in a couple weeks.FillingBuckets














Great news! We ended up winning the door decorating contest which meant a popcorn party for the kiddos that helped out with the concept and creation of the door design. We took a day off from fruits and veggies and had a great time eating popcorn, drinking Capri sun, and listening to “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie soundtrack on repeat.Snacks



With spring quickly approaching, we spent part of Wednesday getting our bales ready! Straw bales are a unique type of raised bed that you can plant directly into once the bales are prepped and ready. In order to do so, we will be watering them every day for a couple of weeks and treating them with a nitrogen rich fertilizer to provide them with some good nutrients. We moved the bales on top of a palette on the pavement outside of our room as the garden site is going through some renovations at the moment. Once we finish up the conditioning phase, we will be planting some early season veggies in them. bales



 It’s spirit week at the club and some of the staff members and their program members participated in a door decorating contest! The decorations were to reflect the activities we do in our programs everyday tied in with a red, white and blue theme. Myself and about 6 other kids in grades 2nd to 4th designed the door and created the art that was put up. This included a small flower garden on the bottom to represent our Green Thumb Garden Club, a flower with pictures of the kids participating in Healthy Habits activities we’ve done in the past few months, along with the words “Home of the Healthy Sprouts” and “Team Community Room”.




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Our pedal power system has finally arrived! With a grant received from Northwest Community Credit Union we were able to purchase a pedal power system through Rock the Bike. With pedal power, the kids are able to pedal a bike made stationary by a generator stand. The stand has a wheel that spins as you pedal and is connected to the power utility box that converts their clean pedal power energy into usable AC power for devices up to 1000w.

On Monday, we had garden club members test out how we could most efficiently get a lamp to turn on using the system. We had an awesome time experimenting with the difference between a higher and lower gears’ ability to charge up the utility box, learning and practicing ground rules for the system, and handing out a ton of permission slips.FullSizeRender (2) For now, we will be using the bike to test out powering miscellaneous devices like radios and lamps while we plan for our big smoothie day event. The goal is to have all the kinks worked out of the system and figure out how to best use it to have all Club members contribute to powering a blender and making delicious and nutritious smoothies! Once our Club garden fruits and veggies are ready for harvest in the summer, we will be able to use the fresh produce for pedal power smoothies in the future. Stay tuned for information on the smoothie event and check out some pictures from the first day.



After an additional day of watering our plants with the different liquids, we decided to wrap up the experiment and make some final observations on what occurred. We used most of our senses to make observations on what occurred including smell which brought about some strong reactions the participants like “the coke plant smells like pumpkins” and “bad x400”. IMG_3125 (1) Overall, all of the plants ended up slightly less well-off than how they originally started, which was not totally shocking since they went to an environment with less sun, water, and 100+ small hands handling them. Despite that, our hypotheses were very close to being correct as water did the best and coke did the 2nd worst, only to be beat by salt water which died relatively quickly. IMG_3221 (1)This experiment has allowed us to relate plants to our bodies as living organisms and consider the effects these drinks might have on us if we choose to consume them!



Day 2 pictures from watering our plants. The kids were shocked to see how quickly we could already see the effects of some of the liquids, especially with the Coke and salt water! I was surprised at the amount of kids that would ask me, “which one is doing the best?” I would often times respond, “Well, take a look. What does it look like to you and why do you think that?” It was awesome to see the confidence in their observations and reasoning when given the opportunity even if they only had basic knowledge of plants or science in general.2.15.16 (2) 2.15.16                  


Check out some pictures from the first day of watering our plants. We had about 50 participants contribute to watering the plants with our different liquids. We gave each ⅓ cup total an eye dropper amount at a time and then put them out in the sun for the rest of the day. We will take a day off watering tomorrow and continue to water about every other day.

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Club members began the initial hypothesis portion of our plants and nutrients experiment. Tomorrow, we will begin to water individual Primrose plants with milk, salt water, Coke, diet Sierra Mist, orange juice, and tap water to see how they react. Every participant voted on which liquid they think will help the plant grow the most and which one will cause the plant to grow the least or do the most harm. Overall, participants overwhelmingly thought that water will be most beneficial for our plants and Coke will be the worst for them. When discussing our votes, some participants mentioned that they voted based on what they think the best and worst liquids for their bodies is. This lead into a great discussion about the similarities and differences between plants and our bodies and what it takes to keep us both healthy and thriving! We will observe the plants over the next couple weeks to see if our hypotheses are correct. 2.10.16 (3) 









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With a beautiful 60 degree day on Monday, we were able to get outside and participate in the food groups relay race. Teams of 4-6 kids skipped, spun, and danced their way to the appropriate bucket labeled “fruit, vegetable, grain, protein, dairy” with their food card matched with a designated action. We had some great discussion over which category some foods would go in such as eggs, sweet potatoes, and eggplant. Team 2 came out on top winning their races by just one point each time! This was activity was a fantastic way to get the kids up and moving while actively thinking about what categories some of their favorite foods fall into and how each of them contributes to a well balanced diet. For details on doing this activity with your kiddos check out the link below. (2)

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As January comes to an end, we have results and winners of our precipitation prediction contest! According to our rain gauge estimations, the BGC garden site collected 6 inches of precipitation. According to the Roseburg Regional Airport reading, Roseburg received 6.61 inches of rain so our homemade gauges were pretty accurate! We discussed what these high precipitation numbers might mean for the soil and plants that will soon sprout in spring. This also lead into a good conversation about how those precipitation numbers might change as we get into the spring and summer months and what steps we’ll need to take to keep the plants hydrated as the drier months approach. Congrats to Sophia and Shelby for both guessing 6 inches and winning the contest!



The kids participated in a photo/essay activity where they described what they do to stay healthy. They mentioned a variety of activities including brushing their teeth, hiking, and eating apples every day. Take a look at some of the artwork below!

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Garden club members have been working on a giant fruit and vegetable rainbow over the past couple days. This activity really got the kids thinking about different types of healthy foods they enjoy and also what the different colors might indicate regarding different nutrients. I was very pleasantly surprised to hear about all of the different types of produce they enjoy and are familiar with including pomegranates, eggplant and beets!



With an extremely rainy December coming to an end, some of the garden club kids thought it would be interesting and helpful for future gardening projects to know how exactly how much precipitation we get every month at the BGC. We decided to track how much rain we will get all throughout January using rain gauges created by recycled 2 liter bottles. We also thought it would be fun to have a precipitation estimation contest to see who would come closest to the amount of rain/snow we get throughout the month. Predictions have been cast by 40 members from 1st-5th grade with guesses ranging from 3 inches of rain to 300 inches of rain in a month. We will be putting the rain gauges in different places throughout our future garden site as to get an accurate reading. Stay 12.28.15 (2)tuned for the results at the end of January!