Windham – This year’s summer reading club for kids at the Windham branch of the Portage County District Library is a hands-on garden club. The youth service Librarian Michele McGing wanted to teach children about raising their own food. McGing was able to enlist the help of student volunteers from Hiram College to help build the raised gardens. The Renaissance Family Center willingly donated the space for her project, along with some muscle. The garden, located in the “enclosed triangle” of the building, is protected from vandals and animals. The construction began on the six raised beds, with the soil being donated by Schwan’s landscaping. McGing and Pastor Fred Youngen wheeled load after load of dirt to the garden until planting time. The garden club has youngsters as young as 6 years to the eldest of 13 years old learning how to grow their own food. The student planted green beans, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, Swiss chard, yellow squash and zucchini. The kids planted the garden and now they maintain it by weeding and watering the crops each week. McGing stated that many of the kids had never eaten fresh garden-grown veggies, let alone grown them. So this is giving them an opportunity to learn how to raise their own food. The kids are learning to grow the produce without chemicals as well.The club meets each week where they weed, water, read books about gardening and work on a craft that has to do with gardening. Some of the crafts the kids have made are: labels for their garden, and bird feeders. The kids learned about composting, organic gardening, how to design and create a small container garden. They discussed plants that attract butterflies, xeriscaping, pressing and drying flowers and nutrition. Many of the activities are designed to reinforce what they have learned from books. Upon the completion of the program, a nutritionist will help the kids examine recipes and learn how to create a healthy meal from their bounty. The students will cook the meal for their families at the end of the program. The remaining produce will be divided up among the students to take home with the excess being donated to the local food bank.