Henderson Settlement Youth Ministry Coordinator, Magdalyn Mayes and I have spent the last 24 hours with the young ladies from the girls club planning and planting the garden located at the youth center.

When Maggie first broached the idea of a lock-in for the girls club, and asked if I would like to stay all night with her and the girls, I thought, “Sure, that will be fun.  We can discuss Grow Appalachia and how important it is to learn about gardening and how it affects our lives.”

Well, let me be the first to tell you , That’s not quite how it went Thursday night!
Maggie, the girls, and I had quite a night! The first thing we had to do was get them (Eight girls aged 10 to 15) on the bus and on the way to the youth center. This was an experience in itself.  The trip ended up taking twice as long as it should have because the girls had to make sure they had everything they would need for the night away from home. You would have thought they were leaving home for a week or more.
Thursday turned into softball, movies, and a campfire with s’mores.  This was OK with us because we figured the girls would deserve a little fun with all the work that would come along with this lock-in.  Unfortunately, s’mores mean chocolate and marshmallows, and we all know what those things do to kids.  We finally turned in at the break of dawn. But soon after, we begrudgingly rolled out of bed, grumbling.  Well, not all of us.  Maggie and I walked around singing for the girls to wake up, which I’m sure only annoyed them.  But it worked! 
We loaded the bus with a bunch of grumpy gals and headed to the greenhouse at the Henderson Settlement Farm.  Surprisingly, the sleepy girls were very interested in the farm and greenhouses.  Upon arrival, the girls were informed that they were NOT to touch the goat dogs or the fence that holds them.  Dulley Partin, the Greenhouse Manager, gave the girls a tour and discussed the Youth Garden plans with them. 
The girls walked through with Dulley and carefully selected their plants.  We stopped off at the barn to pick up some tools and headed back to the Youth Center.  By this time, the girls were ready for lunch.  We were beginning to think that this garden would never get planted.  We went to the Settlement’s Dining Hall to fill ourselves with taco salad, which proved to be a heavy lunch.  The tired girls begged for naptime, and to be honest, we weren’t completely opposed, but we pressed on and encouraged the girls that it would be best to get started.
Once we got back to the Youth Center, it seemed as though we were all fueled and ready to go.  We started by clearing the existing raised bed of weeds.  The girls learned how to use typical gardening tools as well as a scuffle hoe.  Maggie was especially impressed with the efficiency of this tool.  The girls were thankful for each passing cloud that blocked the sun, but it wasn’t miserably hot out. 
We all worked together to get the job done, and well.  We planted 3 different kinds of tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, red and green bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, squash, and eggplant.  They were very glad to make it to the finish line and were pleased and proud of the finished product.  When asked what they had learned today, they responded with the following:
Megan-  “I learned how to plant tomatoes!”
Allison-  “I learned how to garden how to use the scuffle hoe!”
Chenoa-  “I learned what compost was and that we are planting life.  God made it and He gave us the privilege to do it.”
Ashley-  “I learned what a sucker was and how to sucker plants, ’cause it will suck the life out of plants.”
Makayla-  “Didn’t realize that you needed to water plants when you put them in the ground!”
Can’t sleep!
Maggie shared that the girls club had taken a recent interest in being the fundraising committee for the Youth Program at Henderson Settlement.  They say the the youth plan on selling the produce at the Farmer’s Market and maybe to local stores and such.  They also plan to take some of the yield home for dinner. 

Garden before it was planted