Gardening isn’t just for adults. It’s a great activity for kids and a fun hobby the whole family can enjoy together. And what better place to take up gardening than in the Garden State? Fun, hands-on nature and garden classes help children cultivate and exercise their green thumbs while enjoying time outdoors.
Read on for the scoop on some of the best programs available in New Jersey.
Location: 353 East Hanover Avenue, Morristown
Details: Programs at the arboretum are run by the nonprofit group The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum. Of course, kids will love Branching Out, an interactive gardening program that encourages playing in the dirt. Classes run Saturdays in the Spring and two days a week during the summer. One-time events, such as October’s Scary Plants, Scaredy Plants, are offered throughout the year for seasonal fun. The arboretum also hosts seasonal Scavenger Hunts and Discovery Backpack programs for families. Finally, you can explore the grounds with a family backpack, which contains activities and games to help children make new discoveries in the gardens.
More info: www.arboretumfriends.org or call 973-326-7601
Maplewood Garden Club
Details: This hands-on garden club is open to residents of Maplewood and surrounding communities. Moreover, their youth gardening program teaches children and their families about gardening, growing food and giving back to the community. In fact, kids grow plants from seeds, tend to them all season and harvest them when ready. Meanwhile, some vegetables are taken home to eat and the rest are donated to local food pantries. Garden crafts and other interactive activities, such as composting, are also included when time allows.
More info: www.maplewoodgardenclub.org
Location: 165 Hobart Avenue, Summit
Details: Reeves-Reed Arboretum is a beautiful location to visit any time of the year. Stop by for special activities such as Discovery Saturdays, the perfect way to explore the arboretum at your own pace and make exciting discoveries. Children’s programs include Let’s Get Growing, a fun gardening and nutrition class for kids ages 5-12 with different themes each month. For example, little ones can register for Oaks and Acorns, a weekly parent/child session that teaches respect for the natural world through nature walks, stories, songs and projects.
More info: www.reeves-reedarboretum.org or call 908-273-8787
Location: 112 Ryders Lane, New Brunswick
Details: A variety of available programs help kids learn about nature as they explore 180 acres of designed gardens and natural habitats. Particularly, Little Sprouts Garden Adventures is a drop-in program for three to five year olds and their parent or caregiver. Participants join a garden exploration to learn about the natural world using their senses. Each session focuses on a different seasonally-appropriate topic. During group exploration programs, school-aged children scout selected areas of the gardens and enjoy fun activities such as garden tending and forest hikes.
More info: www.rutgersgardens.rutgers.edu or call 732-932-8451
Van Vleck House & Gardens
Location: 21 Van Vleck Street, Montclair
Details: Various children’s programs are offered at this 12-acre private estate. During Garden Helper Days, kids can weed, water and plant as they learn about fruits and vegetables growing in the Edible Garden. Garden Discoveries classes inspire kids about the natural world, with each session examining a topic through stories, outdoor hikes and hands-on activities. Then, at Garden Exploration Saturdays, an environmental educator discusses different nature and gardening topics. Children can make crafts and participate in a self-guided activity on the property.
More info: www.vanvleck.org or call 973-744-4752
Hero (Top) Feature Image: ulianna19970/Adobe Stock
Additional Body Images (in order) Courtesy:
Maplewood Garden Club
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
The Montclair Foundation