Last week was our forth annual garden craft-making-for-the-holiday class. I greeted students with, "Welcome to 'Winter Wonderland!' then challenged children to think about someone they love. I asked for a show of hands from those students who had all the money needed to buy gifts for everyone they loved. No one raised their hands.
In hopes of empowering students to use the limitless free garden "gifts" we all have around our school and/or homes to make a loved one a present, I introduced three or four garden crafts. Children were challenged to spend a complete garden class working on making one of those crafts into a complete present ready for it's place in their family's holiday.
Crafts this year included autograph leaf ornaments, lemongrass tea bags, herbal boquets, and plant drawings. Each could be completed and wrapped using 90% garden items like herb cuttings and 10% biodegradable art supplies like hemp twine and Elmer's glue. Some paper options were recyled from office waste. Students could pour themselves a cup of tea, think good thoughts about the person they were making their craft for, and get comfortable working anywhere in the garden.
Every student left with at least one completed project they could present as a viable holiday gift. I made sure to sing a carol a class, laugh and joke often, let the children talk about random things that come up when working at a table of folks crafting, and promote a happy holiday vibe. Students loved sipping tea while they worked. A few classes took longer than others to settle down and get into the crafting groove. By the end of class, even the coolest of sixth grade boys left smiling with a present for Mom or Tutu and the most unruly group relaxed into the hushed bustle of gift making.
By making holiday garden crafts a tradition most will experience the day more than once which is important because the lessons are at the core of habits that must change for the health of our planet. Every time we choose to give a nutritious, beautiful gift that comes from nature and can someday return to nature, we are giving the planet a gift too.
My goal is that kids leave garden class having experienced the joy of growing garden resources and turning them into heartwarming presents for people they love. Maybe kids will feel the joy that comes from giving their effort and thoughtfulness to someone they love. With a bit of planning and a little vision, any child gardener can give a gift to everyone on their list and make the planet more healthy at the same time.
We dug out our biggest load of compost yet; dank-smelling, black, fluffy soil teaming with life and wiggly with worms. Students couldn't believe what could happen when we trap biodegradable school waste and let FBI go to work.
Last year's lessons on amending nutrients to soil turns out to be spot on. We reviewed how various classes had gathered and added human hair, cow manure, ash, cooked and crushed chicken bone, shredded paper, molassas, egg shells, and banana stalks in purposeful attempts to put all those needed nutrients back into the soil. Maybe weird to humans, but for microorganisms that stuff is a treat! We ammended compost so microorganisms could go to town eating plenty and recycling waste.
We are talking about about microorganisms this year in terms of FBI - fungus, bacteria, invertibrates. Fungus = mushrooms; Bacteria = microscopic worm food. Seeing worms means biodegrading bacteria is present. I = Invertibrates; visible bugs like cockroaches, roly polies, springtails, and the critters that eat them like spiders and centipedes. The wheelbarrow compost had diverse FBI for miles. It was an FBI party in there.
Gardeners carefully scooped compost and surrounded their favorite plant's soil area with compost. To tuck-in nicely the FBI, they covered the compost with a scoop of mulch. Worms and vital microorganisms were spread everywhere! The garden was sparkling with good vibes sprinkled in every corner. "Oh little worm!" "You are so cute." "Look! This worm's dancing!"
How can a garden keep from glowing with all this compost and love?
Ms Krista says:
Everyday encounters with real garden sprites; tortuous panorama of the surf; old-growth collards; machete lessons; mantis rehab; pesto pasta. Days as a public school garden teacher on the Big Island are filled with unexpected gems of wisdom and infinite inspirations. Introducing my life as a school garden teacher...