Garden Views: Growing our youth a community effort

“Pines School New Growth Garden” is one of the most rewarding projects I have had the privilege to serve on. Pines School is located at the Lino Lakes Correctional Facility. The purpose of the project is to engage four distinct groups of students into gardening at Lino Lakes. The groups include both high school boys and girls, who have encountered challenges in school, and two pods of high school students that are currently incarcerated at Lino Lakes.

The project has received much community support. Involved are three master gardeners from Anoka County, Pines School staff, MN Green, Soil and Sunshine Garden Club and the high school students.

Within the project, the master gardeners have taught soil science, composting, photosynthesis, seed starting and seedling transplanting. We have worked with students to plan, prepare and plant a school yard garden.

The students seem to enjoy the program; they are attentive, even taking notes. They have started plants from seed and brought them to planting in the garden. They worked on plant propagation and the incarcerated students earned the privilege to take a plant to their room. They enjoy getting to go out and work in the garden even in the rain. I have been especially impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the students. We have learned a lot along with the students – some of it the hard way (for example, parking lot runoff washing away our newly planted seeds).

In upcoming sessions, we plan to incorporate some food prep and nutrition training with help of an Anoka County nutritionist. As with many new projects we have had some problems. Most have been weather related. Heavy rain washed away some freshly planted rows, but the students have taken this in stride.

Volunteering in any manner is fulfilling but especially when we are able to help the youth of our communities. They are our future. If you have the time, try it. You may like it.

The Anoka County Master Gardeners invite you to try our Walk in the Garden classes. They are fun and informative. Visit

Bob Vaughn is an Anoka County Master Gardener.

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