Tuesday, April 03, 2001

Youths learn lessons in growth at greenhouse

Nurturing skills pay BYG dividends

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — More than flowers and vegetables are growing at Dayton Lane Gardens greenhouse these days.

        Two groups of young people have worked since January to reclaim the housing community's neglected greenhouse and to nurture a variety of plants inside.

        The project is called BYG — Building Youth through Gardening, and it's sponsored by the Butler Metropolitan Housing Authority.

        As the plants take root and sprout, the young participants learn what it means to care for them. They also see the beauty a garden can provide, and soon they will feel the satisfaction of growing food for their families and others.

        “There are between 20 and 25 kids involved, most of them 10-14, with a few older teens,” said Robin Bobst, resident relations coordinator for the BMHA. “They have no gardening experience at all.”

        Two groups are involved. On Wednesdays it's the BMHA/Hamilton Police Department After School Program program and on Thursdays it's a Boy Scout troop.

        The program is aimed at offering constructive activities for children in public housing, and perhaps inspiring a few to explore careers in landscaping and horticulture.

        “We're providing positive alternatives to drugs and violence, and teaching the concept of giving back to the community,” said Essex Shepherd, a Hamilton police man who serves as BMHA's community resource officer.

        Mr. Shepherd has been closely involved with the program, often visiting the greenhouse himself to check on the plants.

        Both groups will work with a master gardener from the Ohio State University Extension program to design garden spots for several public housing sites. They'll also learn the basics of composting, Ms. Bobst said.

        “What we hope to do with the flowering plants is to have the kids take them back into their own communities, and take pride in making their communities beautiful,” she said.

        When the vegetables mature, the young participants will take some home, and the rest will be donated to Shared Harvest Food Bank in Fairfield.


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