A garden grows across the generations


Seedling, sapling, full-fledged flower: The life cycle of a plant is much the same as that of a person. Since gardens grow and people grow, what better idea than to cultivate both?

A visit to the Berkshire Bo tanical Garden shows its influence on people across generations.

Events like this weekend's annual "Grow Show" gather people of all ages to show flowers, vegetables and plants they have grown and photographs they have taken. The show takes place Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For young visitors, this year the Berkshire Botanical Garden, in partnership with the Farm Ed ucation Collaborative, is offering a new camp to teach children ages 5 to 10 about food production, animal care and even sales.

Among the diverse range of activities, the children meet senior gardeners. On Tuesdays, mem bers of the Herb Associates come in to work with the children. Elizabeth Leonard and her mother, Barbara Brouker, of Pittsfield, as well as Clara Archambault, of Devonshire Estates, longtime Herb Associate members, help maintain an herb garden run by the association. On this morning, the older women were weeding and cutting old blossoms.

Brouker, a master gardener and a member of the Herb Associates for more than 15 years, had been the librarian in Richmond when she became involved with the association. In 1995 she took a 12-week intensive gardening course through the University of Mass achusetts and, along with a group of dedicated plant people, be came a master gardener.

Leonard, also a master gardener and a member for more than 10 years, is a retired elementary school teacher, so she said working with children was natural for her. In talking about the herb garden's unique qualities, Leonard explained to the campers that "herbs are useful plants -- they are insect repellents."

She led campers in making a lavender sachet and a dipping sauce for vegetables.

"We make products that sell," she said.

On Thursdays, the campers offer a farmers' market, where they sell produce, eggs and the products that they made during the week. On Fridays they prepare a final feast with the counselors that also consists of what they've made and harvested during the week in their own garden.

A group of teenagers, the Greenagers, designed the children's garden for the camp. The teens measured, sawed and constructed seven raised beds to provide campers with a hands-on gardening experience.

Counselors for the camp also learn educational and animal skills, so they can teach the campers animal care.

Jamie Samowitz of New Marl borough, youth education coordinator for the garden and the camp, came here from Hamp shire College's working farm. Elizabeth Carey, director of education at the botanical garden, decided to bring the camp idea here.

"Kids are learning real life skills like empathy and community building," Samowitz said. "They are working together to take care of each other." Through this they are learning ethics and how to care properly for living things. "Kids understand where they are in the cycle of things," Jamie said. "And it's fun!"

Baby animals such as goats and piglets are brought in on a daily basis for the children to play with and take care of. On this day, two goats, a mother and daughter named Jewel and Ivory, were visiting and the campers had just finished making goat cheese. Chick ens also lay the eggs sold at the farmers' market, and the children tend baby chicks.

Grownup visitors -- including Gov. Deval Patrick -- have taken workshops to build chicken coops in the garden.

The garden's adult workshops, activities and classes range from art and horticulture to "How to Build a Cob Oven."

The Berkshire Botanical Gar den cultivates minds, bodies and plants, and from the younger sect to the older, everyone can find a piece of it to enjoy.

In the afternoon, the young campers share what they are grateful for. Today, some of what was thankful for were the goats and bunnies, the shade, the grass and the counselors. When one child picked at and pulled up some grass, one of the young counselors suggested that he treat the grass as gently and kindly as they do the animals.

What: The ‘Grow Show' juried exhibitions of flowers, vegetables and plants in three different divisions grown by gardeners of all ages. Garden Photography Competition with the Berkshire Museum Camera Club.

When: Saturday from 1 to
5 p.m. and Sunday from
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Berkshire Botanical Garden, Routes 183 and 102, Stockbridge

Admission: Garden admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and free for
children under 12

What: Exhibit, ‘Contained Exuberance,' opens Saturday: display of container gardens ranging from traditional to whimsical scattered throughout the 15-acre garden.

When: 'Designer Walkabout' Saturday at 11 a.m.,
designers share back
stories behind their designs.

Other exhibits: ‘Gimme Shelter: Architects Design for Shade' --examples of ancient Japanese charring techniques as well as green roofs, reinvented traditionalist architecture and surprise sound elements.

‘Garden Time: Objects Employing the Sun' -- antique and newly constructed armillaries, spheres and sundials made of stone, iron, bronze and other metals.

Information: (413) 298-3926, berkshirebotanical.org


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