Kiwanis Children’s Garden open for visitors’ enjoyment

Trena Courey lies in the grass reading to her children, Callie, and Ezra at the Springfield Kiwanis Children’s Garden at Snyder Park Wednesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Trena Courey lies in the grass reading to her children, Callie, and Ezra at the Springfield Kiwanis Children’s Garden at Snyder Park Wednesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

It could be called a hidden gem for now. The Kiwanis Club of Springfield’s members would prefer it become one of the most visited and enjoyed places in the city.

The Kiwanis Children’s Garden, which opened in Snyder Park on May 18, is ripe for discovery as schools are out and the warm weather beckons people outdoors. The garden is located southeast of the former golf course clubhouse.

Visitors will find an acre’s worth of things to see, experience and learn from.

“This is a children’s garden for children of our community, to be viewed and used, a fun place enjoy,” said Carl Patterson, a past Kiwanis president who saw a lot of the work done during his term.

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For the Springfield Club’s 100th anniversary this year, it was required to complete a project that would benefit the city. As Kiwanis is devoted to serving the children of the world, a committee decided on a children’s garden.

As similar projects were being done by the Master Gardeners at the Snyder Park Gardens and Arboretum, that seemed like the proper spot. The Kiwanis raised the money and teamed with Hollandia Garden Association for its gardening expertise to design and build.

They needed $119,000 and raised more than $136,000. The project took roughly two years to complete.

Earl Robinson, president of Hollandia helped supervise the gardening and Kent Sherry procured a lot of the materials. Some outside organization made donations, while many Kiwanis members also donated including legacies by past members to contribute.

The garden is divided into several areas: an adventure zone with places for children to explore, play, jump and climb for physical fitness; a sensory zone with various plants with calming sensory features; a nature zone with a nature hut containing information on various animals and plants, a bee hut and covered bridge; a round-a-bout with hopscotch area; and a common area with a sun dial, dry run, waterfall and brick walkway.

Kenwood Elementary School students helped with an area called sunflower alley and with other plants. Students were donated potting soil, 300 small cups and seeds where 12 teachers supervised the cultivation for five to six weeks. These were collected prior to the opening and planted around the garden.

The Kiwanis-supported members of the middle school Builders Club and high school Key Club also lend support with the garden.

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Crystal Steiner and daughter Aurora heard about the garden on Facebook and witnessed as work progressed. Fans of visiting area parks, they discovered it was open and explored on a recent Friday afternoon.

“Awesome,” was Aurora’s summary as she skipped from rock to rock and swung on a rope. Crystal enjoyed the fragrant smells and the design. They formed plans to visit with other family members and possibly have a picnic.

While the design is completed, Patterson said there will be other things added including a parking area for buses and cars, sealing walkways and other modifications to make it even more convenient.

From there, it could mean other possibilities. For now, Patterson just wants people to know about the garden and use it.

“It’s a fun place, a learning place. We want people to enjoy what we have,” he said.

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