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The arrival of spring, accompanied by longer days and higher temperatures, conjures up visions of green oases teeming with tomatoes and brimming with beans. Spring is also a time for cleaning out. This year, celebrate National Garden Month in an unexpected way-by visiting yard sales in search of second-hand stuff every kids' garden needs.
Pinpoint a program. Whether it is as simple as a few herbs in a flower box or as elaborate as a collection of diverse theme gardens, every garden needs tools. And kids' gardens need enough tools to keep everyone involved and interested. Begin by locating a school or program in your community that gardens with youngsters. Identify their needs, survey the size of the kids, and inform them of your intentions: to solicit tool donations from local yard sales on their behalf. To reinforce your request, consider asking for support materials, including photos of the kids gardening or handwritten letters describing their garden experiences. Kids are more convincing than adults any day! If you are able, take a kid or two along on your mission. This not only makes your appeal more attractive, it offers ownership to the kids.
Pound the pavement. Next, consult the classifieds for local yard sales. To conserve time and energy, visit those advertising garden tools first. Try to stay in close proximity to the school or center where the garden is located. A nearby neighbor is more likely to donate than a remote resident. Search sales for garden tools, including hoes, rakes (garden and leaf), shovels, hand trowels, hand cultivators, buckets, hoses, watering cans, sprinklers, and wheelbarrows or garden carts. Armed with persuasive photos and letters, approach the seller, introduce yourself (and the kids, if present), and describe the kids' gardening program, including where it is located and who it impacts. Ask if they might be willing to donate a few of the tools from the sale. If the seller declines to donate-an unlikely scenario-express gratitude for their time and move on.
Celebrate charity. In the more probable event that donations are granted, consider creative ways to show appreciation. Responding to each donation with a kid-written and -designed thank you note is a nice touch. Include a photograph of the kids putting the donated tools to good use to signify the value of their generosity. If your efforts are fruitful, consider celebrating community charity by hosting a donation ceremony, inviting donors to visit the garden and pass on the tools themselves. The kids can give a tour of the garden, a rewarding experience for both benefactor and beneficiary.
Find tools that are the proper size for the kids participating in the garden program. They won't enjoy gardening if the tools are too heavy.
Kids tend to be hard on tools so make sure they are high quality.
Avoid plastic play tools because they can make gardening tasks more difficult, can break easily, and can be frustrating to use.