Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekend Gardening: Children in the Garden

a much younger farm boy
    It is no secret; I am a huge supporter of garden education, especially with children. Natural wonder and inborn curiosity are free to run in the midst of a garden. Turn a child loose among the growing things and simply watch as their unfettered roaming leads to investigation and question. That drive to investigate and learn can be fostered and encouraged leading to adults who continue in that quest for understanding, whether in nature or in another area of interest.
    Unfortunately our current cultural environment no longer encourages the native roamings of a child at play. Instead we face sterile walls of confinement met with hours of screen time. Commercialized neighborhoods offer a few well placed shrubs and a manicured facade aimed to enhance curb appeal, but leave very little to the explorative nature of a child. Children are kept clean and given activities, homework, and rewarded with media exposure instead of the freedom to roam. 
     In this we have built for ourselves generations of souls suffering. Richard Louv, in his book Last Child in the Woods addresses this culture with great sorrow and concern. Modern educators are seeing the truth in his writing as he summons up the situation with the term "nature deficit disorder" (NDD). Nature-deficit disorder is not a medical condition; it is a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. This alienation damages children and shapes adults, families, and communities. There are solutions, though, and they’re right in our own backyards. (*
   We have a choice to make. Do we reason this to be the new norm, allowing the continuation of NDD and it's side effects? This choice leaves us to consider the rise in reading and concentration problems, obesity, anxiety and depression. Do we stand up and make a difference? This choice leaves us to look closely first at our own homes, then beyond to our communities offering encouragement and example. 
    I stand for the children and say, let's open the doors and lead the way opening the door to a return to the woods. Over the next several weekends our 'Weekend Gardening' section will be dedicated to the children and their return to the wild. My family has been raised with freedom and opportunity to roam the wild with nature parks, habitat preserves, and home gardens. They have been given permission to seek for themselves and direction to learn from others. They now have the opportunity to mentor and share that love with others as they mature and move on. 
    My heart's desire is to inspire life long learners- and one way to do that is through God's glorious creation. Next week we look at the aspect of exploration; providing opportunity and freedom to the very young, the more advanced, and the special cases. As always I offer you the freedom to share your heart, your experience, and your questions..let's learn, grow and encourage together. 
    Let's meet in the garden, shall we?

To learn more about NDD please consider visiting, and consider reading Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv.

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