Jodi Kushins may seem like an unlikely urban farmer.

She holds a doctorate in art education from Ohio State University, a master's degree in art and design education from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and a bachelor's degree in studio art and art history from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. She grew up in a conservative Jewish family in New York City.

Yet, she took inspiration from the home she and her husband, Dan Spurgeon, share on East Dominion Boulevard -- property his grandparents bought in 1949 and where his grandfather once maintained an extensive kitchen garden.

"I didn't grow up in a family that did anything like that," Kushins said.

What is today called Over the Fence Urban Garden began in 2005 when Kushins and Spurgeon built a single raised bed to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.

For the second year this spring and summer, Over the Fence Urban Farm will host the Clintonville Farmers Market Kids Garden Club.

Registration is open for the youth program, which according to its website "is to teach neighborhood children ages 6-12 how to grow vegetables while cultivating their appreciation for the work of farmers."

The club will meet from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. most Wednesdays, April 18 through Aug. 22, at Over the Fence, 143 E. Dominion Blvd.

Membership in the club, which was started five years ago, is $50, which includes the weekly curriculum, a T-shirt, tools and plants.

Kushins said she also plans some field trips for participants.

To register, visit tinyurl.com/overthefenceclub or visit the Clintonville Farmers Market booth on opening day, April 28.

"One of our biggest goals is to have them connected to the food they are eating," said Trisha L. Clark, now president of the board for the market. "The kids become engaged. It's hands-on while learning, but the main thing is they can see you take a seed, learn about the soil, care for their food -- from cooking and tasting to even selling at the farmers market."

"It was kind of like a perfect marriage," Kushins said of being asked in 2016 to host the Kids Garden Club.

"I think it's inspiring for them to be out there and to get their hands in the soil. It's exciting for them to have this space where they knew they put that seed in the ground and to watch it grow."

Kristin Kummer's daughter, Rosie Price, 8, participated in the Kids Garden Club for the first time last year and will sign up again this year.

"I'm a gardener myself so I just wanted her to have her own thing -- trying to get her interested in food, fresh food, whole foods," Kummer said. "I think she really enjoyed it. She liked picking things out of the garden and eating them. She tried new foods.

"She is definitely one to try new things when it's kind of novel, when you pick it out of the garden. She also enjoyed doing it with kids her own age."

"Jodi is such a phenomenal teacher and educator," Clark said. "It's also exciting for us to have a local woman urban farmer for them to look at and see. There's sometimes a perception that farmers are only in rural areas: Old McDonald. Our farmers have many different faces, and women are active in urban farming and rural farming."

Kummer said Kids Garden Club this year will meet weekly, instead of every other week as it did last year.

"That shows she's really committed to the garden club," Kummer said.

Kushins said she chose the name for the club after the couple's next-door neighbor had to give up living on her own. Kushins "kept looking over the fence" thinking it would be the perfect way to expand the garden, and in November 2013 she and Spurgeon bought the property.

At first, Kushins said, they planned to rent to some "hipster couple" who would help out with the farming, but eventually her in-laws moved in.

"It was nice to have an intergenerational homestead right in the city," Kushins said.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1