Mary, Mary quiet contrary, how does your garden grow? The answer: Your garden grows very well if you have the assistance of three kindergarten classrooms to plant them!

Let’s set the stage: It’s early on a spring morning, the smell of fresh cut grass and the mist of a rain storm rolling in hangs in the air. As you survey the scene, you see five raised concrete planters with their soil freshly prepped and colored stones delicately placed, marking spacing for their future plant residents. Vegetable plants in containers cover the surrounding picnic tables and sidewalks waiting to be placed in their new home with gentle little fingers. Tiny bottoms are wiggling in seats, feet are swings rapidly below benches and a low chatter of excitement fills the school garden space. The anticipation only grows as the children learn after the lesson theywill be the ones planting the garden.

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Gardens come in all shapes and sizes, but for our younger gardeners we focused on a variety of senses -textures, smells, colors and fruiting time. Focusing mainly on the plants that would produce quickly (before summer!) and taste yummy right off of the stem. (Maybe not the place for that spicy pepper or the spikey artichoke) The smells of various herbs gave the kids a chance to instantly compare the differences between the plants with zero growth time.

During the lesson, we asked the children, ” What do you need to make your garden grow?” A collective response was “Water” “Dirt” and “Sun”… these kids new their stuff. Then a boy raised his hand in the back. When called upon he added “Garden’s also need love”. A heart melting response certainly, but also a really intuitive one. Community gardening is a healthy, inexpensive activity for youth that can bring them closer to nature and allow them to interact with each other in a socially meaningful and physically productive way. And who doesn’t love to see a physical result of a group effort take place right before their very eyes and change over time?

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The adorable thank you cards that flooded my mailbox were thrilling and still sit front and center at my desk if I’m ever in a need of a pick me up. However, seeing the excitement of this garden growing in front of me and it’s tiny gardeners (a few were even checking in at recess to sing their plant!) was more than all the thanks I needed.

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Want to try this at home? Go for it! A few things to consider: Prep your dirt, pick appropriate lighting and space for success… and of course what the children recommended, “Sun, Dirt, Water and Love”. And you can always call in the professional if you need a design. Happy Planting.