Children gathered around flowers Wednesday, June 26, at Ross Street Park, inspecting them to see if the insides had been pollinated or if there were any honeybees nearby.
Meanwhile, Jackie Bain, a Delaware County health educator, explained how the black and yellow insects work to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers. The kids giggled when she said that, in essence, "bee spit" is what helps plants bloom -- and parents were surprised to learn that only female bees leave the hive to collect pollen.
A local beekeeper then took the students to see bees buzzing around a hive and to pass out honey samples.
The Buzzy, Buzzy Bees event was the first in a series that's part of the Second Ward Community Initiative's Kids in the Garden Project.
From 1 to 2 p.m. every Wednesday and Thursday through Aug. 1, the Delaware County General Health District and the initiative will entertain school-aged children and promote a sustainable lifestyle in the Healthy Neighborhood Garden, 50 Ross St.
On the same days from 6:30 to 7 p.m., children and their parents can stop by the garden plot to tend vegetables and flowers that will be harvested and cooked up for an end-of-the-summer party.
"We thought it was important to teach kids how to grow vegetables, not just because it's healthy, but because it also gives them a sense of responsibility and something to look forward to," said Stephanie Saunders, an SWCI board member.
"When we get the children involved, we're hoping it will bring in the parents, grandparents and neighbors," she added.
Four garden plots were added at Ross Street Park last summer by Delaware County Habitat for Humanity. It has permission to fill up the park entirely with gardens, but Bain said getting the community involved hasn't been easy -- even though each large piece of tilled land costs just $20.
One well-kept plot is owned by Vineyard Church and another is planted by a resident. The third plot will be used by children who participate in the project.
"A garden is something a community can embrace," Bain said. "It can bring people together in a positive way and it can empower people to take more control over their health, so we're hoping this program creates awareness."
Bain said if the summer program takes off, the SWCI's Healthy Neighborhood Coalition, made up of 18 Delaware organizations, could turn it into a year's worth of learning events, including community classes about healthful cooking, garden preparation and plant care.
Corbin May, 11, and his younger brother, Jordan, 6, said they plan to stop by the garden as often as possible, because they enjoy interactive learning.
"I like that we got to see the live bees and taste honey," Corbin said. "I learned a lot of different things that I didn't know before, so I'm interested in coming back."
Four-year-old Natilaya Ford said her favorite part of the day was watering the gardens once the program was finished. The lesson that she's looking forward to taking home and sharing with friends is that "the boy bees are fat," she said, compared to their female counterparts.
The free program is open to all school-age children. Topics such as recycling, insects and composting will take center stage in the coming weeks.
For more information, visit the Second Ward Community Initiative's Facebook page.