Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Planning A Thanksgiving Garden

     Yesterday, around a large table in a children's library, there sat four creative souls with one purpose in mind: to create a thanksgiving garden. When the teacher approached me with the idea I was pleasantly fascinated by the notion of it (while slightly concerned about the timing). Sensing my hesitation she pressed the question, can we do it?- and me, well.. challenge accepted!
      The desire was for students in a particular grade level to apply their food growing/tasting/get physically active knowledge toward a particular common goal that could be shared with the entire campus. Okay, so that isn't daunting or anything. 1. Get a mass of fourth graders to work together, in soil. 2. Location, location, location- how do we place it in a communal area where all the school can see. 3. What on earth do we plant? 4. Funding. Everything costs something. Thus we found ourselves in the library; pens, paper, and plenty of coffee (one sweet soul thought to bring granola bars!). Address the mess:
        1. The majority of fourth graders at this campus already spent last year working gardens and preparing food with me; fortunately one of their teachers worked with me last year as well. This gives us a foundation to start with.
         2. Location took care of itself when we realized an atrium garden area was available since the class it was build for and maintained by was no more; a central location, seem by everyone who walks two main halls of the school. A little clean up, a little soil amending and we are ready to go.
          3. Funding (yes, I know I am out of order) will be on each team members shoulder. Some donations have already come in for seeds, and some plants. With a common wish list in hand, we can approach prospective supporters for donations not yet received.
          3. What do we plant (the best part for last)? Well, what do we eat at Thanksgiving? Teachers had already mentioned the notion to students who eagerly put some thoughts in: sweet potato, greens, corn, green beans, white potatoes, herbs such as sage and parsley- oh, and, of course, pumpkins!.. they were on a roll. The only concern now is to find the best variety for our zone and get those seeds in the ground!
           So how will this all play out? The mystery is the most amazing part. Seeing the beauty and chaos unfold is the stuff that fuels my madness! Hopefully, students and teachers will connect outside the paper and book zone in an opportunity to truly enjoy each other. Mentors will arise from the shadows and nurturers will shine. Agriculture will draw together with history as children face plant needs, nature's unpredictability, and the science of kitchen magic. I can hardly wait to get my muck boots on and meet in the garden.
            Will it be successful? It already is! Teachers and students have stepped outside the box; administrators have approved and are watching; the wheels are turning and there is no turning back.    

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