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Educational center celebrates 10 years of gardening

By Bianca Montes
Sept. 14, 2013 at 4:14 a.m.

Zecharyah Montano, 4; Peyton Zamora, 6; and Aylssa Zamora, 5, decorate their plastic pots Saturday afternoon at the Victoria Educational Gardens. The Festival in the Garden celebrates the gardens' 10th year and was designed to educate children and adults about  Earth.

Five-year-old Aylssa Zamora's rosy cheeks gleamed as her fingers patted a fresh layer of soil over three white lima beans.

"It's a beanstalk," she said, laughing through her toothless grin. She proudly held out a plastic pot decorated with a sparse selection of carefully chosen stickers, including her personal favorite - a bright yellow garden snail - and giggled when asked if she was going to grow her giant beanstalk to search the blue skies for Jack.

Aylssa, four of her closest confidants and, of course, their mothers, of Victoria and Fort Hood, were learning a valuable lesson about vegetables and how they grow Saturday afternoon at Festival in the Gardens, a celebration of Victoria Educational Gardens' 10th anniversary.

Master Gardner Linda Koehler said while planning the event she thought, "let's make it fun, and let's make it family-centered."

Annually, the educational gardens play host to garden tours and plant sales, but to celebrate its 10th year in the Crossroads, the planners decided to kick it up a notch.

The daylong event was filled with symposiums about composting, bugs in the garden and landscaping as well as entertaining children with games, activities and crafts to inspire their inner botanist.

Most of the children enjoyed the musical-chairs-inspired plant walk, in which they would race around a gazebo, and when the music stopped, hope to land on the spot that won them a green, leafy surprise.

Koehler, of Victoria, said most of the activities were designed to teach children that vegetables do not grow in the supermarket. "We just want to educate them to be earth-friendly and get them to plant plants," she said.

Six-year-old Colby Jaster, also of Victoria, won a fully bloomed yellow marigold flower and a purple plant she was unable to identify. Winning the plants and discovering the koi fish pond on the property were her favorite events of the day.

This was the first time for Colby and her mother, Connie Jaster, to go to the educational gardens. Grandma Georgie Herman, an avid gardener, invited them to the event.

Victoria Educational Gardens, which opened May 2003, is part of a long-term project between Victoria County Master Gardener Association and Victoria Regional Airport Commission designed for the purpose of educating the community on proper gardening techniques, water conservation and composting.

The 2 acres of land near the airport is filled with 19 mini gardens, including a vegetable garden and a military honor garden where engraved pavers are placed by families and friends in honor of those who have served their country.

Aylssa and her two brothers left the garden a little dirtier than when they arrived, but as far as their mother was concerned, "it was great," Selena Montano said. "What a great way to teach the children."



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