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Members of the Loveland Youth Gardeners and the High Plains Environment Center came together Thursday morning to breathe some natural life into the up-and-coming Kinston area at the new garden.

The Center for Horticulture and Conservation, in partnership with Kinston-based Centerra and Mountain Cowboy Brewing, planted a series of small gardens on the east side of downtown Kinston in eastern Loveland, planting everything from tomatoes to onions, arugula and more.

“It’s important that kids know where our food comes from,” says Erica Wharton, program director at LYG.

LOVELAND, CO, June 16, 2022: Jack Bowman, Loveland Youth Gardeners volunteer, waters new plants after helping plant a garden on Thursday, June 16, 2022 at Centerra's new Kinston Hub.  Loveland Youth Gardeners teamed up with the High Plains Environment Center to plant tomatoes, squash, squash, cucumbers, herbs, arugula, strawberries and more.  Vegetables and other vegetables grown in the garden will be used by the chef and bartenders at the newly opened Mountain Cowboy Restaurant, located in the new Centerra Mall in Kinston.  (Jenny Sparks/Loveland Reporter-Herald)
Jack Bowman, Loveland Youth Gardeners volunteer, waters new plants after helping plant a garden on Thursday, June 16, 2022 at the new Centerra in Kinston. Loveland Youth Gardeners teamed up with the High Plains Environment Center to plant tomatoes, squash, squash, cucumbers, herbs, arugula, strawberries and more. Vegetables and other vegetables grown in the garden will be used by the chef and bartenders at the newly opened Mountain Cowboy Restaurant, located in the new Centerra Mall in Kinston. (Jenny Sparks/Loveland Reporter-Herald)

Dawn Kirk, events coordinator for young gardeners, said the planning had been going on for months to try and get it right. But on Thursday morning, it all came to fruition when about a dozen young gardeners got out their shovels and shovels to plant a plethora of vegetables in the morning sun.

“It was just kismet,” she said.

The idea behind the garden was to serve multiple purposes, from displaying to the community to using produce grown for Mountain Cowboy, a coffee shop and bar that opened its second location in Loveland in late April.

Ron Jovic, owner of Mountain Cowboy, said the garden is positive on several fronts.

“It’s a good option when fresh food comes into our kitchen, we’ll use as much of it as we can.” he said. “This is a good opportunity… for people to get out and see the whole process (from farm to fork).”

Jim Tolstrup, chief executive of HPEC, who designed the gardens and grew the plants, was in the garden Thursday morning helping young gardeners. He said the two organizations have a long and positive relationship in planting work and encouraging children to learn about gardening and nature.

He added that he hoped the garden would become a learning tool not only for children, but for the entire Kinston area.

“Communication with nature is so important for children,” he said. “There are so many life lessons you can learn from working with plants.”

For the children involved in this event, it was a great way to help others by growing fresh produce.

Ellie Cool, 14, said she sees the activity as a cool change of pace in gardening.

“I love helping people,” said 12-year-old Emma Wharton.

“I want everyone to appreciate this wonderful garden,” said 12-year-old Taylor Campbell.

For the adults who watched and helped, the event was another great way to immerse the kids not only in nature but also in the business of planting and growing their own food.

Erica Wharton said that gardening allowed the children not only to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, but also to learn more about different types of food.

“The best way to get kids to try new food is to grow it,” she said.

“I love that there is this group of kids who make it from seeds to the table,” Kirk said, adding that young gardeners can come back with their families to get food and taste what they have planted.

Ryan Abbott, Acting Executive Director of Youth Gardening, said the planting was great for the kids because they learned that gardening is more than just planting, but that the food they plant can actually go to someone else. .

“These kids can really see the whole process,” he said.


The 18th Annual Loveland Garden and Art Tour returns on Saturday

Residents looking to enjoy the art of gardening and support Loveland’s youth gardeners can get out and enjoy the 18th annual Loveland Garden and Art Tour this weekend.

The tour, which serves as a major fundraiser for young gardeners, will take place this year in the Lake District of Centerra, which the LYG website describes as “an award-winning multipurpose area and certified wildlife habitat.” It’s also home to the High Plains Environmental Center, whose main building is located next door and oversees 275 acres of wetlands, open space, and reservoirs.

According to the LYG website, the tour will highlight “pollinator-friendly places” with their natural habitats, conservative water practices and more.

The tour will also feature “garden art” created by local artists, giving residents the opportunity to meet the creators and buy from the artist.

The tour is scheduled for Saturday from 8:00 to 14:00. More information and tickets can be found at lovelandyouthgardeners.org. Ticket prices range from $25 to $80, depending on the ticket package purchased.

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