Meet Bob Markey
While most people are enjoying the summer sun, the kids, beach, and barbecues, Bob can be found at the YMCA in Rahway, NJ teaching summer campers ages 5-15 how much fun gardening can be. Once “Mr. Bob” (as he’s known to the kids), shows campers how to build a Square Foot Garden (SFG), that’s when the fun begins.
Having read a copy of “All New Square Foot Gardening” some years ago, Bob was inspired to start a small Summer Camp Garden program at his local YMCA. Over the next ten years, the SFG program has expanded and now runs for ten weeks each summer at three Central New Jersey YMCA’s.
As a Certified Instructor, Bob has overseen the creation and construction of SFG’s at each of the three YMCAs with the assistance of two Certified Instructors and staff. By growing the program, he’s able to remain teaching the youth while continuing to refine the program’s structure.
Bob is proud of his accomplishments and for good reason. He recalls how “I was fortunate enough to receive my SFG Instructor Certification by the boss himself, Mel Bartholomew. I also got to know Mel over the years, and he quickly became a staunch supporter of my YMCA SFG Summer Camp program.” According to Bob, with Mel’s support and involvement, the YMCA SFG program received endorsements by NJ Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher, the 5000 member Garden Club of NJ, Rutgers University Gardens and the NJ YMCA Alliance. In conjunction with the Square Foot Gardening Foundation, Bob’s goal is to someday see a SFG Summer Camp Program sponsored by the National YMCA.
The New Jersey YMCA’s SFG program is a wonderful success story:
This past summer 350 YMCA kids had hands-on training. Not only did they learn the basics of Square Foot Gardening, they also had lots of fun by adding special events, such as The Great Zucchini Race where kids “Grow’em, Race’m and Eat’em”; Taste of the Garden where a local chef prepares tasty treats alongside their Square Foot Gardens and Seed to Sale where the kids harvest and sell their crops at a local farmer’s market. Bob states, “SFG is proving itself for the YMCA summer campers to be all that Mel Bartholomew would have envisioned.”