PISCATAWAY, NJ  - Middlesex County’s Office of Extension Services will present a new program that demonstrates how gardening can be used as an educational tool for young people.

“Digging Into Youth Gardens: A Conference for Educators and Community Leaders” will take place on Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at East Jersey Old Town Village, located at 1050 River Road, Piscataway. The conference fee will be $25 with early registration by Wednesday, March 2 and $30 for late registration.

Checks, made payable to Middlesex County treasurer can be mailed to or dropped off at the EARTH Center in Davidson’s Mill Pond Park located at 42 Riva Ave., which is geographically located in South Brunswick.

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The purpose of the conference is to assist schools, community youth groups, churches, YMCAs and other groups in starting and maintaining a youth garden. This conference is intended for those in the early stages of garden planning, as well as those looking for new ideas on the care of an established garden. Faculty from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners and garden facilitators will offer presentations and workshops featuring their area of expertise, including soils and pest management.

Professional development credits will be available for those educators who attend the day’s entire program.

Some of the topics that will be presented at the conference include:

•           Making your garden sustainable- getting support from administration, staff turnover, funding opportunities.

•           Garden Basics- locating your garden, water considerations, soil testing, choosing plants for the school year.

•           School-based curriculum to support gardening efforts.

•           Activities to get kids interested in gardening.

•           Composting.

A panel of experienced youth garden coordinators from Middlesex County will present success stories and invite inquiries and discussion.

To register, or for additional information, call the Middlesex County EARTH Center at 732-398-5273 or e-mail Janice.tonkery@co.middlesex.nj.us