ND Western 4-H Camp SARE Garden

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2012: $1,998.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Manager:
Project Co-Managers:

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: beets, carrots, onions, cucurbits, tomatoes


  • Crop Production: fallow
  • Education and Training: youth education
  • Soil Management: earthworms, organic matter, soil analysis, soil microbiology

    Proposal abstract:

    1. The ND Western 4-H Camp SARE Garden will provide youth with an experiential learning opportunity by having them develop and maintain a sustainable camp garden.
    2. To educate youth about sustainable growing practices through instruction, hands on activities and tours of local organic farms and farmer’s markets.

    Establish and maintain a sustainable garden at the Western 4-H Camp. The garden will be used to educate youth in three ways:
    1. Sustainable gardening, till and no-till plots, composting techniques, and integrated pest management hands on activity.
    2. Everyone attending the camp will receive an introduction to soil health, the water cycle, and the health benefits of growing and eating garden produce.
    3. Fresh vegetables will be used for camp meals and the excess produce will be distributed to SARE youth campers and the local food pantry. Produce will be used to teach food preservation at the fall family camp.

    Increased understanding of where our food comes from. Youth experience growing food in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way. Sow the seeds of understanding how soil health and human health are inter-related. Demonstrate how growing your own food can be sustainable, profitable and enjoyable.

    Project Description
    The SARE Garden Project will begin with the youth engaging in a variety of activities pertaining to creating and maintaining a sustainable garden. Two camps are planned for the first year. A spring four night-five day camp for youth ages 10-15. The fall camp will be a weekend family camp involving youth and parents.

    Camp activities include:Tours and External Activities
    * Youth will tour JM Grain, an organic food distribution market in Garrison, ND to learn how food is processed for shipping to national and international markets.
    * Field Day at Duke Gardens, Hensler, ND – youth will attend a morning workshop where they will plant seeds, transplant seedlings into garden beds, and tour the greenhouse.

    * Assist with the Farmer’s Market in Washburn.
    * Youth will create promotional posters to help educate consumers about the produce.

    Camp Activities - Educational


    • Establish the garden site by determining the best location for growing vegetables -- sun exposure, water availability and harvesting convenience.
    • Build the garden beds and fence the area to keep out the deer.
    • Plant the same vegetables in till and no till garden beds and record the results.
    • Take soil samples, temperature and moisture content. Mix amendments and mulch.
    • Learn about soil health and the water cycle.
    • Dissect germinated seeds.
    • Create grow cards from recycled paper. Seeds will be implanted in the paper in molds and allowed to dry. Youth glue the seeds to their handmade greeting card and can be given as gifts.
    • Identify the benefits of composting. They will construct a compost bin and begin the composting process with garden scraps, grass clippings, and kitchen waste.
    • Construct and use grow light made from PVC pipe.
    • Explore organic pest control and identify various pests/garden weeds using live samples.
    • Use flip video cameras to film building projects, garden site development and monitor growth of the garden. Post videos on Youtube.


    • Harvest and preserve produce.
    • Plan a menu and prepare a meal for the campers.
    • Assist with the local farmer’s market.
    • Create promotional posters about the benefits of fruits and vegetables.
    • Clean the garden site and prepare beds for spring planting.
    • Plan future location for a native garden.

    Camp Activities – Recreational

    Traditional camp activities including: swimming, nature hikes, rock painting, canteen, campfires with songs and games.

    What students will learn about Sustainable Agriculture from the project
    Activities are designed for youth to learn by doing. The lessons learned:

    • Essential elements necessary for plant life to grow, including light, water, temperature, soil nutrients.
    • How to design and build an item using everyday tools.
    • How to maintain and improve soil health through no till methods.
    • Define the term “organic” and how it is applied in practical settings.
    • Identify common pests and methods to control them in an environmentally friendly manner.
    • Seed development and plant growth.
    • How to transplant nursery seedlings and appreciate the life cycle of a plant.
    • Understand that food must be marketed to generate income to sustain a family.
    • Develop their creativity by designing posters and helping to market garden produce.
    • Be able to harvest vegetables, plan and prepare a meal.
    • Learn safe and economical methods to preserve produce.
    • Identify practices that are sustainable and non-sustainable in food production.
    • Appreciate the yearly rhythm of food production and the influence of nature.
    • Understand the connection between soil health and human health.

    How project will impact students and the community
    This project will greatly impact the youth and our local community by increasing the awareness of sustainable agriculture and what it takes to bring locally grown food to market. The students will realize how their stewardship of the environment will make food more available to community members now and in the future. Local growers and farmers will share their insights on how their farming practices and greenhouse growing techniques help make their business profitable and sustain their way of life. The produce grown at the camp will be enjoyed by many campers and   improve the nutritional quality of their diets. Extra crops will be donated to the local food pantry to help sustain families in need. Farmer’s market patrons will become aware of the nutritional and economical value of the locally grown food and meet the youth that helped to grow that food. Videos taken by the youth and counselors at camp will be shared with the public on the web. This will allow campers and the community to see how and where their vegetables were grown. The entire project will demonstrate how 4-H guides youth to develop agriculture techniques that will sustain themselves and their communities.

    Resources that will be used to plan and carry out the project 


    • Junior Master Gardener (JMG) Gardening Handbooks
    • JMG Golden Ray Series: Health and Nutrition from the Garden
    • SARE Gardening Books including: The New Farmers’ Market

    SARE Bulletins including:

    • What is Sustainable Agriculture?
    • A Whole Farm Approach to Managing Pests
    • North Dakota State University Garden and Pest bulletins


    • SARE YouTube videos on sustainable gardening
    • NDSU videos on gardening and pest management


    • ND 4-H Foundation
    • NDSU Extension Service
    • Burleigh County Soil Conservation District
    • West McLean County Soil Conservation District
    • South McLean County Soil Conservation District
    • McLean County Farmer’s Market


    • Duke Garden Center
    • JM Grain


    • 4-H camp counselors
    • Master Gardeners

    Outreach efforts will be multi-faceted.

    • Videos: Videos for the web will be taken of the garden throughout the project. The counselors will be trained on how to take the videos and post them on the web. These videos will allow educators and the youth to monitor the progress of the garden and to see how the project was completed.
    • Tours: Counselors will be trained to give a tour of the garden to campers, educators and visitors who attend camp during the summer. This tour will provide information about the water cycle, soil health, health benefits of the garden, and the SARE program.
    • Local Newspapers: The local newspaper will publish stories about the garden plot, goals of the program and invite the public to come for a tour of the garden.
    • Other organizations: Soil Conservation District representatives will serve as instructors at the camp and will use the garden plot for their trainings.
    • Families: Families can attend the fall camp to learn about sustainable agriculture and food preservation techniques.



    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.