Junior gardeners harvest at Palmer Playground

Green thumbs: About 40 kids participated in a junior gardening program at Palmer Playground this summer.

The junior gardeners/farmers at Palmer Playground are harvesting the flowers and veggies they’ve been nurturing all season.

Just not all of them. There’s a fair-sized pumpkin they have in one of their four beds at the Comly Road facility, said volunteer Ed McLaughlin, that the kids are going to let alone for a while. They want to see how big it will get.

Meanwhile, the gourds, zukes, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, carrots, Swiss chard, flowers and other elements of summer’s bounty are heading for the homes of the kids who grew them.

A program that teaches children about gardening and its benefits runs all year, McLaughlin said, but the kids who grew some of the biggest Swiss chard you’ve ever seen were part of a 10-week summer camp program at the playground.

Kaja Manuel, an urban garden educator for the Parks and Recreation Department, said about 40 kids are involved at Palmer. Other rec centers are conducting gardening programs for youngsters, too, she said.

Parks and Rec’s “Junior Farmers” program, according to the department’s website, teaches children ages 2–12 years old the benefits of growing their own food and rewards of tending to the natural environment. The program shows kids how to build small gardens that include small orchards and pollinator gardens.

McLaughlin said a black locust tree was planted at Palmer, 3035 Comly Road, a couple of years ago. ••

Green thumbs: About 40 kids participated in a junior gardening program at Palmer Playground this summer.

Green thumbs: About 40 kids participated in a junior gardening program at Palmer Playground this summer. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS