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Garden Gnomes at Farmers Markets

Educating & Entertaining the Youngest Shoppers at Ramsey County Farmers Markets
Master Gardener volunteers help two young children make a seed viewer
Intern Katie Novotny and MG Aimee Schaefer share the importance of seeds and help visitors make a seed viewer to take home

Visit the Farmers' Markets in Roseville, New Brighton or the Hmongtown Marketplace, and you will see a new booth next to the Ramsey County Master Gardener information table. The cheery gnome that greets visitors lets you know that this is the Garden Gnomes booth, a youth program pilot project that is new this summer of 2022. Modeled after a similar project started in Hennepin County, our volunteers decided an activity that would attract and inform kids about gardening would be a great addition to our Ramsey County markets.

Youth program coordinators Ed Shinbach and Susan Cathey presented the idea to the Ramsey County Master Gardener Board, which agreed to fund our plan. Master Gardeners Cheri Skildum and Aimee Schaefer joined the team to create four units to be used from June through September. Many enthusiastic volunteers signed up to staff the booths at each market once a month. Each unit includes hands-on activities, something fun to take home, and a four-page handout that reinforces the lesson and adds resources for children and their families.

A young girl builds a seed viewer
Building a seed viewer

Garden Gnome activity topics include:

  • What Is a Seed?

  • What Is a Pollinator?

  • Good Bug, Bad Bug

  • Plant Parts We Eat

Feedback on this activity so far has been very positive! Ninety kids visited the booths at the Roseville, New Brighton or Hmongtown farmers' markets in June. (New Brighton was having their Kids Day and we were deluged!) There were over seventy children participating during July. As the markets get busier towards the end of the summer, we anticipate even more!

We feel that the pilot has been successful and are hoping more markets can participate in the future. The project leaders for these markets – Cherie Boen & Jennifer Daul (Roseville), Elaine Noel (New Brighton), and Patricia Ohmans (Hmongtown Marketplace) – at these three farmers' markets have been very supportive and helpful.

The Garden Gnomes will be in action during August and September.

  • Roseville Aug. 23 and Sept. 27

  • New Brighton Aug. 10 and Sept. 14

  • Hmongtown Market Aug. 20 and Sept. 17;

If you’re available, stop in and see this program in action. Or better yet, sign up for a volunteer shift at the markets!

Two Master Gardener volunteers - Matt Haney and Sue Von Bank - help teach kids about What Is A Seed?
Intern Matt Haney and MG Sue Von Bank are ready for business at Hmongtown Marketplace


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