They may be retired educators, but that doesn’t mean that these members of the Barefoot Gardeners Club are finished teaching.
After being awarded a first-place state award for environmental stewardship for their work with butterfly gardens, the group is switching things up this summer for their “Children’s Story Hour” at the town park adjacent to Fenwick Island Town Hall.
“This year, we decided to change our plan a little bit,” explained Sue Clark, one of the club’s youth committee pioneers. “We wanted to teach about seeds and about growing vegetables.”
For their first session of the summer, on Wednesday, July 8, the kids already got a chance to see some of those vegetables sprout, after the group planted a garden full of cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and peppers.
“They physically get to go over and look to see if there’s anything growing,” said club member Barbara McCoy. “They saw that there was a cucumber, and they got to taste it — we keep it hands-on.”
“We’re all teachers, so we know that, ‘OK, they’re restless — let’s get up and stretch,’” added Clark. “That’s why we decided to change and do the vegetables — just have a whole different plan this summer.”
Meeting every other Wednesday from 10 to 11 a.m., the free Story Hour also, of course, includes stories, in addition to art projects and gardening — but, above all, the kids also learn what it means to be part of the Barefoot Gardeners.
“We tell them they’re the stewards of the earth,” explained McCoy, “and that this is their earth, and they need to be the protectors and the caretakers of it. If they go to the ocean, we tell them to throw the shell back if there’s something alive in it — just little things like that.”
“Taking care of the earth, that’s all kind of woven in,” added Clark. “I think it’s a great project. I see what happened with my granddaughters, and they love it.”
While the first story hour of the summer saw a light turnout, the group has high hopes for the second session, on Wednesday, July 22, when the Suzanne Thurman, executive director of the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation (MERR) Institute pays a visit — bringing a 30-foot inflatable whale with her, for purposes of both education and fun.
“We want to get more community support,” Clark said. “Since we were all Gardeners Club members, we were looking to do something with our youth committee.”
To attend the free Children’s Story Hour event on Wednesday, or any session throughout the rest of the summer, simply stop by the Fenwick Island Town Hall at 10 a.m. to check it out. For more information of the Barefoot Gardeners Club, find them on Facebook.