County hosting free gardening webinar series

Free program teaches adults, youth about various topics

Earlier this spring, the Camden County Office of Sustainability hosted a plant giveaway program to help encourage more residents to get involved in the growing of their own plants and vegetables during increased time at home.

Now, the county is continuing to further that initiative by offering a free gardening webinar series for residents of all ages.

Throughout the months of June, July and August, Camden County Master Gardener Coordinator Rebecca Szkotak and Camden County 4-H Agent Sharon Kinsey will host the “Get Ready to Grow” Family Gardening Series on a biweekly basis.

The free series requires pre-registration to ensure the county can keep count of the number of people logging into the meetings.

The series is run by the Rutgers New Jersey Cooperative Extension program, which focuses on improving the lives of individuals throughout the state through educational processes that use scientific knowledge. According to Kinsey, this first-time series came to fruition due to worldwide circumstances showing increased interest in such topics.

“Obviously the current situation has caused us to reconfigure our current programs, while our adult and youth volunteers are also changing their normal contributions, so we really had to change how we go about presenting our educational programs,” Kinsey said.

With an early June deadline for residents to sign up for the webinar series, she says the program already has approximately 75 adults and 30 youth registered thus far.

“Because people are spending so much more time at home, gardening is one of the activities they are turning to stay engaged, get outside and do something new,” Kinsey added.

Having worked together various times in the past, Kinsey and Szkotak saw this as an opportunity to team up once again and create an impactful series that could help both parents interested in the topic while also engaging kids in something educational during a summer where they may be at home more than usual.

According to the listed dates for the webinar, the introductory series will cover the basics of planning a vegetable or herb garden, as well as the topics of crafts, bugs and other pests, harvesting and more.

“We’re just trying to give people that baseline knowledge if they’re not familiar with gardening,” Kinsey said. “This would be a great introduction for them. No matter where someone might live and regardless of how big their yard or growing space might be, this will definitely be a benefit to them so we’re really looking forward to get this information out there.”

Camden County Freeholder Jeff Nash said in a release that the series will be helpful to individuals looking to learn more on the topic.

“Gardening is a rewarding, outdoor activity that can be shared by the whole family, especially during this period of social distancing,” said Nash, liaison to the Camden County Parks Department. “With the expertise of these two organizations, and the easy access offered by the online format, your family will be cultivating and caring for your very own garden in no time.”

Residents interested in signing up for the webinar series should go to https://rutgers.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_81hfYyWWWit6bo9 for more information and to register for free.