Teen Harvest Garden at the Center for Children & Young Adults
A Cobb County Master Gardener Project
10 Years of Serving At–Risk Children
Since 2000, Master Gardeners of Cobb County, Georgia have volunteered at The Center for Children & Young Adults, a shelter for children and teens who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents. Initially, Cobb Master Gardeners helped install a large rock garden, gazebo and playground on campus with funding from Leadership Cobb Alumni. Then Cobb Master Gardeners began an after–school garden program with the youngest residents. Activities included:
- Worm Composting
- Making natural bird feeders
- Planting tulip bulbs all over campus
- Making scarecrows and carving pumpkins
- Planting herbs and flowers from seed
- Playing in the dirt
A grant from the Georgia Master Gardener Association, provided funding for children–sized garden tools:
- Various hand tools
- Worm composter
In 2003, with private corporate funding, Cobb Master Gardeners built a large garden shed for storage and a work base. Tulip and daffodil bulbs were donated by Dutch Bulbs and planted by the children.
Cobb Master Gardeners planted blueberry and blackberry bushes from 4H Clubs, making a large berry patch. A perennial garden with shrubs was begun in 2004.
By 2005, Cobb Master Gardeners expanded their work to include native plants, a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and drought–tolerant plants.
In 2006, several native trees were planted:
- including a Ginko Tree
- Red Maple
- and Eastern Redbud
The Garden Program has changed as The Center has grown and adapted to the needs of our community. Freshen’s Foundation built a small greenhouse on campus and helped Cobb Master Gardeners to expand the vegetable garden program. Small seedlings are planted and nurtured in the greenhouse before being planted in the ground. Teen residents are assisting in all planting.
Vegetables planted include:
- Green beans
- Bell Peppers
- including Basil
- and Thyme
Cobb Master Gardeners, The Marietta–Cobb Jr. League and The Circle for Children, are collaborating to involve teens in increasing the yield of the vegetable gardens, so that more produce can be used in the food prepared on campus for the residents. Meals are served 365 days a year, three times a day at The Center, for staff and residents. The Marietta–Cobb Jr. League initiated our ongoing “Kids in the Kitchen”, where volunteers and campus chefs teach how to plan and cook meals.
Expansion has included a dozen fruit trees and increasing the number of blueberry and blackberry bushes. In 2013, the youth and Master Gardeners harvested over 450 pounds of fresh produce that was farmed to table on campus. Further expansion includes a 12 chicken coop to harvest 300 eggs per week for the CCYA Food Service program.
More Information on the Cobb County Master Gardener Volunteer Program
The Cobb County Master Gardener Volunteer Program is offered through the county office of The Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, where individuals are trained and certified in horticulture. The group’s goal is to promote knowledge, and interest of gardening to the public and to benefit the community through these activities.
Funding to the Cobb Master Gardener Program at The Center for Children & Young Adults, has come from the following grants and donations:
- National Gardening Association
- Georgia Master Gardeners Association
- The Home Depot
- Cobb County Master Gardeners
- Dutch Bulbs
- Marietta–Cobb Jr. League
- Kiwanis Clubs
- United Way of Cobb County
For more information on the CCYA Harvest Garden Project or the Cobb Master Gardener Program Contact:
Maureen Lok, Master Gardener and CCYA Gardener Project Volunteer Manager