The Independence Health Department and Independence Community Garden Association are sponsoring four gardening classes to help you get your garden off to a good start. Staff from the Kansas City Community Garden will present the classes at 6 p.m. at either the Health Department, 515 S. Liberty St., or St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 3601 S. Sterling Ave. The classes are:

n Feb. 24 - Early Spring Crops at St. Paul's Methodist Church n March 10 - Vegetable Gardening Basics at the Health Department n April 7 - Growing Tomatoes and Peppers at the Health Department n June 16 - Insects and pesticides at the Health Department

Joanie Shover, Independence Community Garden Coordinator and Health Educator, says the basic gardening classes are designed for the back-yard gardener and especially the beginner.

The Community Garden and the Health Department also continue to work together to distribute seeds and plants. Membership is required to participate in this part of the program. Membership is $2 for those who qualify for low or no income. Membership for all others is $10.

Members are entitled to receive 10 packets of seeds (your choice), a 5-pound bag of fertilizer, a community gardening newsletter, discount on additional seeds and fertilizer, a discount on vegetable plants and tiller loan privileges. Seeds and plants will be available for pickup from 3 to 6 p.m. on the following Thursdays at the Health Department. Early spring crops, March 27; Summer seeds and plants, May 1 and 15.

For more information, call Shover at 816-325-7185.