Applications for program are due by Jan. 31

FREEHOLD, NJ – Children, ages 9 through 11 are invited to take part in Monmouth County’s Grow Team Program that includes learning gardening basics through special hands-on activities on the way toward becoming a certified Junior Master Gardener.

The deadline to register for the program is Jan. 31. Those interested in the program should contact the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service of Monmouth County at 732-431-7260. There is a $25 registration fee. Register early because class size is limited.

Children will be involved in a unique opportunity to unlock the mysteries of seed germination and plant propagation, to experiment with soil composition and to harvest and protect seeds.

All classroom and hands-on sessions will be held on Saturdays from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Monmouth County Agricultural Building at 4000 Kozloski Rd. in Freehold. Eight sessions will be held April 16, April 30, May 7, May 14, May 21, June 4, June 11 and June 18.

“The Grow Team offers children an exciting way to learn how to grow local fruits and vegetables,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the county’s agricultural interests. “Children who sign up for the program will learn about such topics as plant biology, soil science and disease and pest control in a hands-on and exciting way.”

The children will work with certified Master Gardeners who are experts in all things related to home gardening in Monmouth County. Graduates of the program will be welcome to return to the garden weekly to harvest produce for their families or for donation to the local food banks. Children may also enter their produce in the Monmouth County Fair Home & Garden competition in late July.

The Grow Team program is a part of the county’s Master Gardener program. Similar programs are conducted throughout the United States and Canada. In New Jersey, the program is a cooperative effort of Rutgers University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the county Boards of Chosen Freeholders.

Monmouth County’s program also involves Brookdale Community College and the Monmouth County Park System.