Swain 4-H Club Gets Into Growing

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Written by: Hannah Styles, hstyles@thesmokymountaintimes.com
The Smoky Mountain Times

Swain County 4-H Garden Club BannerSwain County’s 4-H club offers many unique opportunities for youth in our community. Whether your child’s interests include spending time outdoors, tending to farm animals, clogging, growing their own produce, or archery and shooting sports, 4-H has it all! In the next few issues, we are going to be featuring the unique clubs and activities, beginning this week with the 4-H Garden Club.

The Vegetable Garden Club gives children and adolescents ages 5-18 the important skills of learning to grow their own food.

The club has planted two years in a row but got a late start this year due to some unforeseen county septic issues but has about eight kids growing this summer.

Team leader Patti Jo Taylor has always had a green thumb and enjoys teaching the kids about gardening. She said the purpose of the club is to teach kids to be independent and dedicated.

“We want the kids to learn how to be self-sufficient and realize that they can grow their own food,” Taylor said.

She said squash, beans, cucumbers, and most vegetables are ready to be harvested around this time of year, but dry, sporadic weather we’ve been having is hard on the garden.

“You just have to keep watering and save as much of your crop as you can,” Taylor said.

Preparing for the Fair

Another main event for the students is the Swain Agricultural Fair, where they must enter their produce to win prizes and recognition.

“4-H is about giving back to your community, so that’s an important part for kids to learn as well,” Taylor said.

Participants in the club receive a garden spot, and all supplies needed to tend and care for their spot and must do so on their own time, while also attending club meetings to learn lessons on growing their own vegetables, food preservation, and canning.

“This week the team is learning about germination and how long it takes their vegetables to begin sprouting,” Taylor said.

Students in the club document their progress in a record book and harvest entries for the Swain County Agricultural Fair. At the fair, Vegetables are judged for prize money.

“In the next few weeks, students will be harvesting their produce for the fair,” Taylor said.

The Swain Agricultural Fair will be held Saturday, Aug. 20 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Great Smoky Mountains Event Park on Hyatt Creek Road. The event will feature live music, youth livestock shows, local vendors, educational booths, and more.

To find out more about 4-H and opportunities, contact 4-H Agent Kyla-Jo Farmer at Cooperative Extension, 828-488-3848.