Saturday, October 10, 2009

Education and focus through the community garden

As I sat in my office trying to produce outcomes and documents, my phone rang. From the other end of the building, Danielle asked, "Are you going to come see the garden?" and then strongly encouraged, "You really need to see this garden!" I grabbed the camera and quickly went to the garden so I wouldn't miss the kids working.

As I rounded the corner to the garden, I slowed. I could see Ladaysha working so intently with Ms. Susie and I didn't want to miss that moment. I took a few pictures through the bars of the fence just in case they got distracted by me...but it didn't matter. Ladaysha was busy trying to cut the string that would hold the tomato stakes she was putting up. I overheard her say to Ms. Susie, "Man, this takes patience!" I snapped a few shots and then turned to see Niemen.

Niemen has become a favorite of all of ours, but he does present us with many challenges. Yet, Niemen was so intently working on pushing the new thermometer/rain gauge into the ground, he didn't see me either. As I watched, he knelt down to the ground and began packing the dirt around the bottom so it wouldn't accidentally tip over. After getting a few shots, I approached him and asked him to tell me about the garden. His sly little smile told me that he was really enjoying himself.

Ladaysha and Niemen are two of our "Garden Apprentices." Ms. Susie (Gleaning Network of Texas) has been absolutely wonderful! She comes every other Friday to do a Gardening class with the kids...but probably 2-3 times/week she pops in to grab a few Garden Apprentices to help chart the garden's progress, water, pick vegetables, and teach them how to do regular maintenance work.

As I walked around the garden, the Ladaysha and Niemen showed me the black-eyed peas, tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalepenos that are growing. You can see in the videos below that we still have a little work to do on telling the difference between the different vegetables (Niemen had me convinced that the bell pepper was the jalepeno!), but they are quickly becoming expert gardeners. Sometimes the foundations kids need go beyond reading, writing, and math.

Check out the two videos below to see our garden and what the kids are learning:
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