By Kate Barcellos
PITTSFORD — The Pittsford Village Farm isn’t just growing vegetables: It’s growing gardeners.
And in Pittsford, they start them young.
From 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday, the Pittsford Village Farm Community Garden hosts its new Sprouts Club, teaching young people the ins and outs of gardening, from earth worms and healthy soil to different varieties of cherry tomatoes.
The club was the brainchild of co-founder Laurie Kamuda, of Kamuda’s Country Market, who wanted to do something for the community garden, and the local kids as well.
So she, fellow community member Ginny Carroccia, and community-garden coordinator Krysta Piccoli decided to join forces and put the two ideas together: a kids’ garden club, with an 8-by-20 community garden plot all their own.
The club is open and free to kids of all ages, with most falling in the elementary school age group, from four to 11 years old. Attendance varies from week to week, hovering anywhere between seven and nine kids, but sometimes as many as 15 will show up, Carroccia said.
Since its first meeting on Memorial Day weekend, the kids have planted seeds in eggshells, made original art pieces using vegetables, created and thrown “seed bombs,” and planted a double row of sunflowers to create a flower “house,” whose massive blossoms will provide shade from the mid-summer heat, she said.
The kids have also constructed pole-bean trellises and planted flowers near the community garden’s new sign, painted by Otter Valley student Gabby LaGrange, to learn more about flowers and landscaping.
And in their personal plot, a world of veggies is thriving: summer squashes, plum and cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are growing plump on the vines, and the groups are looking forward to harvesting the fruits of their labors.
But, the club isn’t stopping after the summer season is over: Carroccia said there’s hope for a canning session to teach the kids about food preservation, an essential skill when living in Vermont, and the club will carve their own pumpkins around Halloween.
“The hope is that the kids will come back once they’ve harvested the vegetables,” Carroccia said. “The hope is they’ll want to have their own garden plot someday.”
The Sprouts will branch out soon enough: Carroccia said they hope to bring the club to more community events, like Pittsford Day, the ice cream social at the Pittsford Village Farm, and Kamuda’s market, where the Sprouts can set up their own table and present their club to the public.
“This was our first year this year,” Carroccia said. “But we hope to expand our reach next year. We’d love to connect to the schools: It would be great to have it be an off-shoot of the programs over there.”
The Pittsford Village Farm Community Garden is on what was once the Old Forrest Farm, now known as the Village Farm. The farm was donated to the town by residents Betsy Morgan and her husband, Baird, along with the 18th-century house and 19th-century barn on the property, after buying it in 2017.
The Morgans had lived in Pittsford for 50 years, raised their family there and wanted to do something for their hometown.
Thanks to the hard work of a few local gardeners, fresh ideas are beginning to Sprout.