Container gardening contest seeks elementary classroom participation

Elementary school kids in Asheville and Buncombe County will have the opportunity to get their hands dirty and learn some basic gardening skills during the fifth annual Container Garden contest, sponsored by the Men’s Garden Club of Asheville. More than 30 classes participated last year, according to contest organizer Ed Heidel, and the group is hoping for participation from 40-50 classes this spring.

Creativity is a key component of the contest, in which participating classes spend the spring creating a flower, vegetable or succulent garden within a container (or a series of containers). Prior year entries have included unusual containers, such as shoes and old furniture, with such themes as vegetable soup, monsters and tea parties.

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The Men’s Garden Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and has many older members, but it’s keeping its community outreach program young at heart by embracing an educational component that can potentially involve elementary school curricula, encourages young gardeners and brightens the spirits of club members.

“To actually see that there is a new generation of growers, and seeing that light and that spark, and watching that sort of creative baton being passed [is a] really a cool byproduct of the program,” Heidel says.

The program culminates in May when members of the club visit each participating classroom to look at the gardens, get feedback from the kids about what they learned doing the project, and share a little bit about the garden club. While there are monetary prizes for the top gardens, the emphasis is on participation, as opposed to winning, and all the classrooms receive ribbons and congratulations for their participation.

For much information or to register to participate, Asheville City and Buncombe County K-5 teachers or homeschooling group organizers can contact organizer Ed Heidel at heideled@yahoo.com. Registration deadline is Thursday, March 17. Learn more about the Men’s Garden Club of Asheville at mensgardenclubofasheville.org.

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