News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 18, 2014

Sowing seeds

Kids get a feel for growing ‘monsters’

TERRE HAUTE — It may not be as scary as Godzilla, but kids Sunday learned how to grow a monster in their homes at the second annual gardening resource fair hosted by the United Hebrew Congregation at Temple Israel in Terre Haute.

To make your very own “monster,” just take a (very) wet sponge, sprinkle it with birdseed on top and hang it in a sunny window by a string. If you attach evil-looking eyes to the sponge, eventually a hairy, scary creature will appear.

That’s just one of the lessons shared at the gardening fair on South Sixth Street. Other exhibits provided lessons about the proper place to plant trees, lead testing for soil and the many things offered at the Downtown Farmers Market.

“What a tree looks like when you plant it is very different from how it will look when it is mature,” said Jane Morse with TREES Inc., a Terre Haute-based environmental group dedicated to preserving the city’s urban forest. Morse was explaining to folks at the fair the best places to plant various types of trees. It’s very important to think about how a tree will look in 20 years, not just how it looks when you plant it, she said.

Also at the gardening fair, Jessica Murphy, a Ph.D. student in environmental science at IUPUI, was explaining the benefits of soil testing in view of the lead contamination found in urban areas. Former or current industrial areas, high vehicle traffic areas and historic neighborhoods often have lead in the soil, she said.

“We don’t want you to think you can’t garden,” Murphy said. “We just want to make sure people are doing it in a safe way.”

The Indiana State University department of earth and environmental systems offers free soil testing for area residents, Murphy noted. Anyone interested in participating can contact the department via email at More information is available through the Center for Urban Health at IUPUI at www.urb

Sunday’s fair was also a chance to preview some of the fruits and vegetables you can expect to find this year at the outdoor Downtown Farmers Market, which kicks off next month, said Majel Wells, market master. Visitors can expect to find a wide variety of fruits and vegetables at the fair this summer, including asparagus, blackberries, broccoli, cabbage, green peas, strawberries, sweet peppers tomatoes and more, she said.

The fair also included free plants as door prizes and a display board on which kids could share their favorite gardening stories and drawings. The goal of the annual fair is to reach out to the neighborhood surrounding Temple Israel and also to provide an opportunity for area residents to learn more about gardening resources available in the area and to share gardening experiences, said Debra Israel, the organizer.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or

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