He came to us with many seeds planted in his life. The seed of violence from an abusive father. The seed of anger from a defensive single mother. The seed of poverty; he was one of eight children. The seed of hunger--he needed a small snack upon entering school to make it to breakfast without defiant episodes.
Enter the school garden. It was time to plant our fall beans. His eyes began to sparkle as he helped prepare the warm dry soil, breaking up clods, removing obstacles, and smoothing the dirt with his hands. Hope was planted in one small bean seed. Motivation was nurtured by teachers who encouraged him, saying, "Let's check to see how our beans are doing."
The reason for hard work sprouted from the kindness of caring for the needs of baby plants. Self discipline grew as he turned his thoughts to the garden, initiating visits to water, weed, and admire growth. Just as the beans matured, so did his respect for himself and others.
He took joy in gathering the crop to share with his school community, knowing he had been responsible for the outcome. He washed and stemmed the beans for cooking, being accountable for food safety. He delighted in the fruits of his labor, smiling as he ate. He saved one bean to take home, sharing the miracle of growth and transformation with his family.
The school garden, impacting the community one child at a time.
This excerpt, written by Brenda Proebsting, a teacher at 2015 National School of Character, Southwest Early Childhood Center, beautifully depicts the power of getting students out of the classroom and into school gardens.
In a recent Harvard Graduate School of Education EdCast, “Roots of the School Gardening Movement,” host Matt Weber interviewed Jane Hirschi, author of Ripe for Change: Garden-Based Learning in Schools. Jane shared, that while school gardens are not new and date back to John Dewey, our current school garden movement is “driven by an interest in food” and serves as a “link between kids knowing about foods and making healthy food choices.” It is especially important, as our students’ lives become more and more dictated by technology, that we continue to value time outdoors and cultivate their love of nature.