The temperature outside was in the teens and snow blanketed the ground, but it felt like spring inside the new indoor Wegmans Family Garden at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Avenue, Buffalo.
A grand opening was held yesterday for the new indoor space, which provides hands-on activities for children that help them learn about plants and nutrition.
Children of all ages and abilities can engage in free play as well as structured activities.
In the photo at the beginning of this article, Erin Leith, 7, left, and Courtney Leith, 6, experience the textures of plants in a garden where children are encouraged to touch the plants.
The Wegmans Family Garden is located in a sunny, 800-square-foot greenhouse that adjoins the Outdoor Children’s Garden. The new space provides an area for the Botanical Gardens to offer year-round educational programming for children.
The Wegmans Family Garden was built with a $46,000 gift from Wegmans, the Western-New-York-based supermarket. Numerous volunteers also donated hundreds of hours of time to create the new family garden.
Play spaces include a potting table, water pump, sand box, fruit and vegetable garden and craft spaces.
During the grand opening event, Carol Fronczak, Botanical Gardens volunteer, helped children string circles of toasted oat cereal onto pipe cleaners or chenille stems to make a feeder that they could hang in the tree to feed birds.
“It’s a simple project,” Fronczak said. “They enjoy it and they can take it home with them.”
At another station, children inserted a moist paper towel into a clear plastic cup to create a growing medium for mung beans. When the beans sprout, the children can easily see the parts of the plant, including roots, stem and leaves, and they can munch on the sprouts.
Another project had children grind wheat berries to understand how we get flour.
“At Wegmans, we love our veggies, and we are always trying to get everyone to eat their recommended five servings a day,” said Theresa Jackson, Consumer Affairs manager, Buffalo Division, for Wegmans. Helping children learn that fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and grains are plants before they become food is a step toward having children make healthy food choices.
Admission to the Wegmans Family Garden is included with paid admission or with membership in the Botanical Gardens.
Regular food-themed programming will take place from 10:30-11 a.m. and 11-11:30 a.m. each Saturday (except March 30) in the Wegmans Family Garden. Programs are appropriate for children ages 4-10.
- January 26 – Wheat Berry Grind and Seed Planting
- February 2 – Bean Mosaic Art
- February 9 – Paint a Pot Activity
- February 16 – Fun Fruit Squeeze
- February 23 – Edible Toast Art
- March 2 – Potato Stampers
- March 9 – Egg Shell Planter
- March 16 – St. Patrick’s Day Salad
- March 23 – Wheat Berry Easter Critter
- March 30 – No Programs
- April 6 – Butter Dance Party
- April 13 – Pizza Garden
- April 20 – Food Composter
- April 27 – Honey Bee Activity
- May 4 – Ice Cream Party
- May 11 – Fruit Prints
- May 18 – Cereal Mosaic
- May 25 – Orange Pomander