Friday, June 1, 2012

What I Did Wednesday :: Gardening with Children

There is something magical about watching a child harvest the first produce they have ever planted. A sense of awe overtakes their little being as they realize those tiny seeds they sowed weeks ago have become something real. As they pluck the first squash or pick the first pea, I don't think the immediate thought that crosses their mind is I can eat this!, but rather more along the lines of Look how yellow, It's so smooth, or I grew this? Their curiosity is peaked; the simple wonderment sparkles in their eyes.

Earlier this year, I began a Junior Master Gardener program for our 4H club and county. The children have learned about seed dispersal, plant needs, photosynthesis, monocots and dicots, and plant parts. We will be discussing propagation at our next class. But beyond the book lessons, the gardeners are quickly gaining the knowledge of working their own garden plot: watering schedules, beneficial insects and pests, planting requirements, and now - harvesting.

Tiny cherry tomatoes, a large yellow squash, and fresh basil were all plucked from the garden this morning. The children await the ripening of the okra, peas, and peppers. They talk amongst themselves about which dishes they hope to create from their bounty. Already anticipating the fall planting, they speculate about which vegetables will make the final list.

I believe if we had a larger plot, they would take their wares to market. I can visualize these little entrepreneurs informing customers about their organic produce hand tended by none other than themselves. I can see them tallying their sales and finding a cause to donate too, as well as reinvesting in their garden.

Our little garden is by no means perfect. I'm sure we've made mistakes in our layout and our plantings, yet, to the gardeners, there is no finer plot. I feel blessed to be able to lead these children, but also to learn alongside them.

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