The Grandview Parks and Recreation Department is offering youngsters a chance to learn horticultural lessons this summer in what might be called kid-gardener class.

The Grandview Parks and Recreation Department is offering youngsters a chance to learn horticultural lessons this summer in what might be called kid-gardener class.

The Kids at Wallace Gardens program has been held Saturday mornings at the community gardens since April. The young participants are learning what it takes to plant, grow and harvest their own garden plots.

"We started indoors in April because of all the rain, but after we talked about the basics of gardening, the kids were able to plant the vegetables and plants of their choice in their section of our plot at the Wallace Gardens," said Karen Andres, a Grandview resident who came up with idea for the program and proposed it to the parks department.

"I have a love of gardening, but I never got to do it as a kid," Andres said. "I thought it would be really interesting for kids to learn what's involved in growing the vegetables they see at the store. They're realizing the vegetables you buy at the store don't just magically appear there. Someone has to grow them."

Her hope is that the participants in the program will develop an early avocation for gardening they can continue throughout their lives, she said.

Each child was assigned a small portion of the plot being used for the program so that they would not be overwhelmed with their gardening responsibilities, Andres said.

More than 10 different kinds of vegetables, as well as sunflowers, were planted by the children, she said.

The vegetables harvested in those portions of the plot not assigned to an individual child will be donated to a food pantry, she said.

The youngsters are getting a lesson in the rollercoaster ride of gardening, Andres said.

While the weather has not been too bad, a groundhog living near the gardens has been snacking on the plants, she said. The group has had to apply a repellent to their plot to help keep the groundhog away.

Last Saturday was an exciting day for Maria Sipes, age 7.

She was able to pick the first bean pods from her plot.

"It's really exciting," Sipes said. "I'm going to take them home, but they probably aren't ready to eat yet. I've never eaten beans before."

Gardening is a lot of fun, she said.

"I like that we plant food that you can eat yourself," Sipes said. "I liked planting the seeds and trying to figure out how deep they should be."

Her section of the garden includes beans, onions, tomatoes, peppers and sunflowers.

"I wanted to include some flowers and I like tomatoes and peppers," Sipes said.

Luann Hoover is participating in the program with her daughter, Isabel Carter, age 10.

The program has a lot of benefits for Isabel, who is autistic, Hoover said.

"I wanted her to learn about living things and where fruits and vegetables come from," she said. "Also, I homeschool her, and its good for her to be involved in a small group like this."

Isabel "is getting a kick out of" growing her own vegetables, Hoover said.

For 9-year-old Josh Kiel, his interest in gardening resulted from another activity involving digging in the dirt.

"I look for worms to feed to my neighbor's fish and I thought, hmm, it might be fun to try gardening," he said.

He has planted a variety of vegetables, including cabbage, basil, peppers, tomatoes and carrots.

"Basically, I planted everything you need to make a salad," Kiel said. "I also planted watermelons."

He said he will be donating everything he harvests to a food pantry.

Kiel is also cultivating a "sensitive plant," a species with leaves that fold inward at night and when touched.

Gardening can be a challenge because of the constant worry about weather and pests, "but it's more fun than tough," Kiel said. "You just have to try it and see what happens. So far, our garden seems to be working out pretty well.

"I think more kids should try gardening at Wallace Gardens next year," he said. "First, you don't really get dirty and it's a lot of fun."