Junior gardeners getting their green thumbs dirty

When Jake Jager was asked why he was interested in gardening, the fifth grader said because it's an economical way of getting fresh fruits and vegetables.

Anderson with students
Showing the different parts of a celery plant, Donna Anderson taught fourth and fifth graders, from left, Jake Jager, Nate Rasmussen, Hannah Rasmussen, Katie Jager and Drew Franklin, a junior master gardening class in Menahga Thursday. (Riham Feshir / Enterprise)

When Jake Jager was asked why he was interested in gardening, the fifth grader said because it's an economical way of getting fresh fruits and vegetables.

"You don't have to pay as much," he said.

Jake was one of five students who participated in the first Menahga junior master gardening class Thursday taught by nutrition educator for the University of Minnesota Extensions Service Donna Anderson.

Anderson has been teaching the course in Sebeka but this is the first year the class is offered in Menahga.

There are five more sessions scheduled, but Anderson plans to hold more sessions as more students show interest in the class.


The goal is to be able to eventually plant outside when space is provided, she said.

In Sebeka, she has a designated area where students learn hands-on gardening techniques. She plans on getting the students of Menahga outside to enhance their gardening skills.

Thursday's class covered basic parts of the plants that fourth and fifth graders needed to learn before beginning the hands-on experience.

Anderson discussed the different shapes veggies and fruits grow into, to teach the aspiring gardeners where and how to plant them.

And the students seemed to incorporate lessons they learned in science classes.

For example, they said plants need light, water and oxygen, for the photosynthesis process.

Carrots would fit in small spaces because they grow straight up, students said as the discussed where plants should be planted. While discussing how to plant each vegetable, Anderson pointed out the importance of eating them on a regular basis because they contain vitamins that the body needs.

Anderson said the class will continue to focus on fruits and vegetables, which is why she brought different samples for the students to taste.


"Oh this doesn't taste so bad," said Drew Franklin as he tried sno peas.

By the end of the course, the parents were happy that not only their children learned some gardening techniques, they also ate veggies and fruits for an afternoon snack.

Fourth grade Menahga science teacher and community education assistant director Nicole Weston said the course is intended to teach young students responsibility and caring for things.

Remaining sessions will take place from 3:15 to 5 p.m. in Menahga's fourth grade classroom Thursdays April 2, 9, 16, 30 and May 7. Additional classes will be held if the number of students interested increased. A minimum of four kids is needed to hold each class. For more information, call Anderson at 218-631-7794.

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