2. There’s dirt. And lots of it. When I asked one girl what her favorite part about working in the garden: “Getting dirty!!” she said. And this, I believe, is a much more healthy child attitude to have, in comparison to sitting on one’s butt in front of a video game or t.v.
3. Intergenerational learning. We seem to have so few places in our modern world where older, retired people spend time with young people. School gardens give this kind of relationship a space to grow.
4. Work. Sweaty, gross, need a hot shower kind of work that many urban kids do not know about until they join the garden club. There is nothing like sweating out the frustrations of the day, your annoyances with your siblings, the math test you bombed or the bully who won’t leave you alone.
5. Connection to food. No, it doesn’t just appear on your plate when someone serves it to you. It comes from the Earth, which is why we must take care of it. School garden kids get to know their food before they ever eat it.
6. Ingenuity! Kids come up with the best ideas. This group is harvesting worm poop from their vermicompost bin, bagging it, and selling it as a fundraiser to get more stuff for their garden. Brilliant!
7. Process matters. When faced with a challenge of overcrowding plants or pests, the adult volunteers and kids have to put their heads together to come up with a solution. 8. Pride. There is nothing like the smile and face of pride on a child’s face when they harvest many pounds of sweet potatoes they have been growing, to share with others.
9. Partnerships. If you know of a school garden near you, and you have even an hour a week, I’m sure they would love to have you. Our Master Gardener group is working on formalized partnerships with school gardens to solidify a constant stream of volunteers and knowledge base that will last far beyond the beetle-eaten broccoli. I’m super excited to become a part of this.