With the fall harvest upon us, I like to consider the reap and sow of the season. Yes the bounty of flowers, wildlife and design outcomes are part of the equation. But this year I had a wonderful experience introducing young children, preschool through 5th grade to the joys of gardening, hoping for a long term love and eventual “pay it forward” harvest.
In this age of technically created experiences viewed through some sort of monitor or screen, the rewards of getting kids outdoors, engaged in their environment, touching, feeling in real time trumps all manufactured experiences. I don’t care how skillfully created and presented the technology is……. there is just nothing like good old fashioned, hands-on “dig in the dirt” experiences for kids to integrate learning.
This month, I completed the final leg of my Learning Ecosystems in Education Program outdoor garden program at the Mechanicville Area Community Services Center. The children were able to see and feel the roots of plants, the texture of the dirt, the shape and color of the flowers as well as see the garden dance from spring to fall. Observing and discovering the role of insects, above and below ground in gardens is a remarkable “a ha” for kids. Pollination, soil enrichment and aeration opens kids eyes to the balance of life in the garden. Insects are seen as garden friends versus something to fear or consider “yucky”. They make a really interesting connections and a level of pride and”ownership” to their gardens through this hands-on work.
As we pause to give Thanks tomorrow, and enjoy the bounty of the harvest at our family tables, consider a future harvest of young children to perpetuate the beauty and life supporting skill of gardening. Happy Thanksgiving!