She had grown up on a farm and her father raised peanuts.

Thus it was not surprising that 9-year-old Amy Carter was among an estimated 50 city elementary school children yesterday whose plants were displayed at the National Arboretum as part of a city-government sponsored program to interest children in beautification of the environment.

Amy had grown her own bean plant, studied the root systems of plants and the importance of soil and rocks to plant growth as one of 10 fourth-graders in an accelerated science class at Stevens Elementary School.

Her plants and those of some of her schoolmates are among plants and vegetables grown by students from 17 elementary schools in the city's first "New World of Urban Gardening" exhibit.

Ethel Day, the Stevens fourth grade science teacher, had brought her students, including Amy, to the Arboretum in Northeast Washington to set up their exhibits in a large grove near the 24th and R Street entrance. The children romped about and generally enjoyed a summery day of freedom from classroom walls.

Tosalyn Carter, Amy's mother, and a great favorite with her daughter's classmates, visited the exhibits in the early afternoon.

"Amy did a lot of work for the exhibit," Mrs. Day said. "She likes science."

"She's been growing plants in the window at home," Mrs. Carter explained with a smile.

After inspecting a terrarium made by Amy and two containers of soil and pebbles that accompanied the bean plant. Mrs. Carter watched as Amy and her schoolmates performed a "ph test" to determine the amount of acidity in a small sample of dirt. Not much, was the verdict from Amy.

When her mother had finished looking at the Stevens exhibit, Amy was ready to play again. Mrs. Carter, accompanied by several of her daughter's classmates, curious onlookers and a troupe of photographers and reporters, slowly made her way around the exhibit tables, which were laden with several varieties of vegetables and other plants including a baby peanut plant.

The purpose of the project, jointly sponsored bythe city's public schools, the D.C. Cooperative Extension Service and the office of community beautification of the city's Department of Environmemtal Services, was "to get children involved so they would get their parents more concerned about the environment," said Helen Mitchell of DES.

The plants will be on display at the Arboretum through the weekend.