“Envelope Farm” teaches Evansville kids how a garden grows
If you go
The Envelope Farm will be selling some of its produce at the Evansville Farmers Market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at Church and Maple streets downtown.
Fine out more about The Envelope Farm by visiting its Facebook page online.
EVANSVILLE The small patch of dirt in front of the post office is turning into quite the classroom for about a dozen kids in day care.
The kids, who range in age from 5 to 11, are digging into a new community garden outside the high-traffic building downtown. They’ve learned everything from the importance of weeding to the fact that it’s OK to eat a flower called borage.
“Treat the plants how you get treated, because they’re like humans, only the water … undehydrates them,” said Nicholas Barmore, 8, who was helping at the garden for the first time this week. “The sun gives them food, like the leaves kind of open somehow, microscopically, and they just open.”
Amelia Royko Maurer and Karen Nicholson started the community garden, and the kids aptly named it “The Envelope Farm.” The hope is to have the kids sell some of their produce at the Evansville Farmers Market starting Saturday.
At the end of the season, the kids will have a meal together that will include some of their bounty.
The energetic kids chased around the sidewalk on a recent afternoon carrying handfuls of weeds and struggling with buckets of water.
A little boy ran down the sidewalk exclaiming, “I found the jackpot of clovers!”
After all the work was done, Nicholson’s son Chance and Maurer’s daughter Gigi took refuge under a shade tree. Gigi was using sticks to build a fairy trap, so “they can tell us their secrets.”
When asked for her best gardening advice, Gigi, 5, offered her favorite thing to do with the watering can.
“Step in it when it has water in it … because it feels good,” she said with a mischievous grin.
Chance, 8, grows pumpkins at home and said it’s important to follow directions.
“If you get a seed packet, you should follow the directions on the back,” he said.
The “farm” also includes “On the Prairie,” a small prairie garden in the terrace between the road and sidewalk.
Maurer noticed the post-office’s long-time gardener was no longer managing the space, so she sought approval from postal officials to take over.
Things fell into place: KinKoona Farm volunteered manure, local Dr. Allison Becker and resident Ry Thompson donated stones to terrace the area and the high school sent plants. Then Nicholson came on board and donated plants for the native prairie.
“We never imagined that anybody would actually get involved,” Maurer said. “It’s dreamy.”
The extra energy? The Evansville Kid Connection daycare happily supplied the kids.
“They have just shown up and been like, ‘What can we do?’” she said.
Each week includes a taste test. This week it was green beans and borage. All of the kids tried raw Swiss chard, and five came back for more.
“Talk about a magic moment,” Maurer said.
Bailey Langton, 8, said watering the garden was her favorite thing to do. Carrots topped her list of favorite vegetables, but the kids have yet to taste-test any.
The carrots haven’t been pulled out yet, “because we don’t have to right now,” Nicholas Barmore explained. He described the carrots having “spiny things” and the tomatoes getting really bushy when they get big.
He sat with a watering bucket next to the garden and explained the importance of giving the plants a drink.
“When you watch these things grow it’s like ‘Whoa!’ It was not that hot out to you, but for the plants it’s kind of really hot because they don’t get watered everyday,” he said.
Along with volunteers, the garden could use a donation of serving forks to weave in tin garden markers the kids have made.
Organizers plan to continue the garden next year.
“Maybe if we get more volunteers we’ll go to City Hall, take over their lawn,” Maurer said, half-jokingly.