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You Can Grow It: Boise Urban Garden School

Jim Duthie takes us to a place in Boise where they are planting seeds among young gardeners.

BOISE, Idaho — Parents -- if you’ve got small children, and you want to help them learn important lessons about nature and gardening, here’s a great way to do it -- with BUGS!

Garden master Jim Duthie explains that BUGS stands for Boise Urban Garden School, and a new Little Learners garden is ready to help you plant the seeds to grow future gardeners.

On this blustery March morning in Boise, families with small children were coming together to check out BUGS.  But not the creepy, crawly kind.  They’re here to learn more about the Boise Urban Garden School.

Lisa Duplessie, B.U.G.S. Exec. Director]

“Boise Urban Garden School is a place-based education facility where we really work on environmental education, help kids learn about plant science, nutrition and wellness, and just getting out in the dirt and learning where their food comes from.”

“Big plants grow from little seeds. And big gardeners grow from little gardeners. And here at the Boise Urban Garden School, they’re planting seeds to grow gardeners.”

Last Saturday, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and other officials, along with the kids and their families, broke ground for the new Little Learners garden, which will add to the hands-on learning opportunities that BUGS provides.

“It’s a production space, so we’re trying to create a space for preschoolers to really come and explore and have inquiry-based learning where they can’t make a mistake. They can experiment, they can plant things, they can really use this space for whatever they want. So we’re targeting that early education age group.”

And for families like the Mahers, it’s an opportunity to teach their young children about nature and the outdoors.

Niall Maher, Parent of pre-schoolers

We came here today because I think it’s important for the kids to learn more about outdoor things. It’s too easy to stay inside all the time and so I think, especially… my son’s about three years old, so it’s the age where he learns more by doing stuff, and we do a lot of reading, but it’s better for him to go in and get his hands dirty and learn about different things in nature, animals and plants.”

They grow a small garden, and little John has already learned to appreciate the fruits of their labors.

“Last year we had a load of tomatoes and he was picking them straight off the vine and eating them. So he got into it.”

Which will hopefully lead to a lifelong love of gardening.

“He gets exercise, fresh air, he learns about how to do things. So hopefully when he’s older he wants to go outside, rather than sit in and play video games and look at Netflix.”

There was even a chance to learn about the worms that enrich the soil. These kids were able to hold the squiggly, squirming night crawlers, making this a real up-close and personal hands-on experience that they’ll always remember.

No kids’ event is complete without face painting. Despite the rain showers, this was the only rainbow we were able to find.

Brooke sported a pretty monarch butterfly on her face, as she collected an assortment of free seeds donated by Zamzows garden centers.

“Squash, watermelons, beans…”

“Because I’m going to plant a garden this summer.”

“I think the biggest thing that we hear from kids is just the surprise of the food that they tried, that they like now, that they didn’t like before. And just learning… you know, some kids don’t even know that you pull a carrot out of the ground. So just kind of those ‘ah-hah’ moments are huge. I think for parents, you know, some parents don’t have a farm or a garden in their backyard, so it provides an opportunity that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

The Boise Urban Garden School encourages families to come out and participate in events and visit the garden, and learn all they can about proper gardening techniques while the kids are young.

Boise Urban Garden School provides a wide range of classes for children and adults throughout the year, as well as field trips and summer camps. There’s even a plant sale coming up in May. For more information about BUGS, take a look at their website.

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