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Copley girl earns national awards for gardening

1/3/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Virginia Williams won first place in a national contest for her sunflower, as shown above, and third place for one of her pumpkins, as shown below.
Photos courtesy of Heather Williams
COPLEY — An area youth won two national gardening awards for two items she grew from seeds last summer.

Virginia Williams, of Copley, a fourth-grade student at Arrowhead Primary School, earned first place for her sunflower and third place for her pumpkin in the national Gardeners of America contest for young gardeners up to age 16.

“I’m really honored,” said Virginia, who received an award and gift certificate in a ceremony from Gardeners of Greater Akron officials Dec. 20 at her school.

Sam Morlan, president of the Gardeners of Greater Akron, said Virginia was the only youth to enter the contest to represent the Akron group last summer.

“This is the first time we’ve ever had anyone complete the contest,” he said.

Entering is more than submitting a photo, he added. Children receive a packet of seeds from the group in the spring and then must take photos of the process of planting and caring for the plant and keep a journal.

Morlan said he was impressed with Virginia’s efforts.

“She had a totally amazing journal she had made up, with the time of day and temperature recorded,” Morlan said. “She had tents covering her pumpkin to keep it from getting sunburned.”

Virginia said she grew her items at the Arrowhead Nature Zone, a garden area at the school.

“I could never have done that without the Arrowhead Nature Zone,” she said. “It’s really sunny back there and my backyard is really shady, so I couldn’t have grown a pumpkin or sunflower there.”

Heather Williams, her mother, said the Nature Zone is “incredible and irreplaceable to us.”

Virginia’s sunflower measured 18 inches across and her pumpkin weighed in at 26 pounds.

“We were lucky because it was a really nice summer and really hot,” Heather Williams said. “She went to the school almost every day over the summer, which was not always easy to do. She watered and carried the water herself and took care of them.

“It was a summer we will never forget,” she added. “She learned a lot of life lessons.”

Morlan said the garden club once again will conduct the contest at the local level in 2013. For more information, contact him at 330-336-6269.

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