Hey Clamuniards! Welcome again to the day of the week where we take a look at some of the much awesome being produced here in our fair city. Today we actually look at produce being produced (see what we did there?) by The Backyard Growers Program, a grassroots organization dedicated to getting people of all income brackets to turn some of their yards to garden space. They’ve also been working with the elementary schools to bring gardening to kids. It’s been crazy successful and founder Lara Lepionka takes the reigns of the Clam (risking her impeccable reputation) to give us a list (we know how you people love lists) of the top ten things that she’s learned through the experience of working with schoolchildren:
9 Things I Learned Gardening with Gloucester School Students
by Special Vegetable Correspondent Lara Lepionka
1) There are so many kids who are in need of “nature time” that when they come out to the garden they simply need to spend some time touching soil and looking at bugs before we can actually plant or harvest.
2) Kids will, in fact, eat what they grow – I’ve watched kids willingly shove handfuls of spinach into their mouths without complaint – and often with a degree of joy. My favorite quote from a Beeman student, “I never thought lettuce could taste so good.”
3) I’m pretty impressed at how well behaved 1,300 children can be in the school garden. They want to be there.
4) Children have a wide range of food/gardening experience. We have kids who have never eaten a carrot before, and kids who can tell me the 12 different heirloom tomato varieties growing in their home gardens. I had one kindergartener who didn’t believe me that carrots grow under ground—the look on her face when she pulled the carrot out of the ground….
5) Kids will make healthy food choices (veggies and fruit) if presented with fresh, appealing options.
6) Kids know stuff. They know worms are good for the soil and why. They know what plants need to live. They are learning these things in the classroom, and the school gardens give them a chance to apply their knowledge.
7) Farming is work. Kids actually like to work. On a recent first grade field trip to my farm I told kids they were going to do chores and then I set them to work cleaning out the chicken coop, turning compost, planting potatoes, etc. When we were done one kid said, “So what’s my chore going to be?”
8) I’m a straight up sciencey girl who is not into fluffy stuff. But I’ve got to say, our culture is totally out of whack when it comes to understanding and appreciating natural and cosmic cycles. In my travels I’ve met folks that don’t know the sun rises in the east, that the moon governs the tides, why the days are shorter in December, etc. Children are less connected to the cycles that govern our food production, which can’t be good.
9) Kids are proud of their gardens, and I think they recognize that their school community worked together to make the harvest possible.
Thank you Lara…wait…9? Only 9? What the Hell? I guess it’s planting season and these people are busy…