4-H literally got its start with gardening. The very first 4-H Clubs focused on growing tomatoes and corn for boys and canning for girls. Many youth and volunteers still enjoy gardening projects today. One great curricula that is used is the Junior Master Gardening Program. This program allows youth to enhance their life using gardening as the spark of interest. Gardening enriches youth’s lives, promotes good health, gives a sense of environmental awareness and saves money.
One of the activities I enjoy doing with youth combines gardening with recycling and crafting. As a group we will make our own paper grow cards or ornaments that have seeds embedded in them. Once the cards are dry, we deliver them as a service project. The cards are fun and inexpensive to make and are a perfect activity for your next club meeting! They can be used for any occasion – Valentine’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or just to say Hi or Thank you. For beginners, we recommend growing tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, basil, chives, or parsley. Not into vegies? Try starting marigolds, cosmos, sunflowers, zinnias, pansies, or petunias.
Download our detailed factsheet with photos and directions. This activity is great for any occasion when you need a card or small gift. You can use as party favors by making them into ornaments using raffia to hang them from a tree or gift bag. You can take them to a nursing home, veterans center, hospital or other site as a service project for your club. Just be sure to share with the individual that they need to plant your card or ornament. It is a great way to help youth share their joy of gardening with others.
Other Extension gardening resources include:
- Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide
- Florida 4-H Gardening Project Page
- Calendar by Region
- Florida AG in the Classroom
- Junior Master Gardener Program
If you have a green thumb, consider going “totally green” as a 4-H gardening volunteer! 4-H needs caring adults like you to share their knowledge and passion for gardening with the next generation. Through the 4-H gardening project, youth not only learn gardening knowledge and skills, they also learn responsibility, teamwork, and other life skills that will help them grow up to be compassionate and competent citizens. To get involved, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or visit Florida 4-H.