August 19, 2010 at 8:51 a.m.
Family Pathways operates Teen Centers in four cities in the non-profit's service region.
The motto for the programs is helping youth cultivate assets--mainly constructive use of their time. The centers are in Stacy, Mora, Forest Lake and Sandstone.
The Stacy Teen Center cultivates more than just life skills, it provides a garden plot where kids learn about cycles of plant life, soils improvements, laying-out and caring for a garden, and post harvest cooking, storing and menu planning.
In partnership with Chisago County Master Gardeners Stacy Teen Center youth are cultivating knowledge about nutrition, working as part of a team and handling success and failure.
Stacy Teen Center youth have planted a huge vegetable garden, going on three seasons now.
The plot is where a playground was once located. Only the chain link fence remains. Master Gardener Dave Smith-Patris said the transformation was a major deal. The old playground gravel base had to be removed, most of the wood chips were rolled into the heavy plastic liner, and taken elsewhere, and good dirt was hauled in and tilled to create the garden.
The rows of corn stand tall; kept company in the garden by onions, watermelon, pumpkins, beans; pretty much all the usual kitchen garden plants. It has been a very good growing year, except for the crazy infestation of potato bugs, said Marlene Gross, one of the Master Gardener-mentors.
Smith-Patris said the garden contains whatever the kids want to plant. Seed packets and seedlings are donated. The Master Gardeners work four hours, 3 to 7 p.m., each Wednesday with the youth. The master gardeners on-hand when this story was done: Jerry Vitalis, Tom Dickhudt, Karen Fidler, Gross, the Patris-Smiths-- and everybody said don't forget to mention LouElla Green, for all her help. There were eight kids at the center this night, who had been gardening all season.
"We try to work first and then have supper with the kids, using things from the garden," Smith-Patris continued.
His wife Diane had walked the kids through making pickles a couple weeks before. The finished jars, lined up on a ledge in the Teen Center kitchen, are the first things a visitor notices. The evening the Press came by, garden-harvested vegetables were in the soup pot for a summer meal. A couple of desserts still in bakery pans, sat on the big table in the kitchen.
The Stacy Teen Center is on the west side of the freeway, off the Sunrise Market parking lot. The space is supervised and also offers a variety of programming featuring volunteers, six days a week. Any and all youth between the ages of about grade 5 through middle school will find they fit in and enjoy what's offered.
See www.familypathways.org or contact Brenda at the center at 651-462-4398.
The Ki-Chi-Saga Days run-walk event, this Saturday, August 21, benefits the centers. Register online at www.zapevent.com or register in person at Zion Church in Chisago City, Saturday at 7 a.m. the hour before the event begins.
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