FBI = Fungus, Bacterica, Invertibrates = Nature's recyclers. A clever play on words. Not only is FBI a famous local-only surf clothing line, From Big Island, but he acronym rolls off the tongue of even a first grader for some odd reason. We talk about FBI in class as the world's most efficient recyclers. The miracle is that without FBI there would be no way for the nutrients in a papaya peal to get to the starfruit. We can help FBI work by providing layers of green (fresh, nitrogen) and brown (old, carbon) to feed the maximum FBI. And we can whacking back garden jungle to create compost piles.
Teamwork and effective tool use are two important components of the kind of work needed to build big compost piles. I have to be on constant watch during hard core tool work because little children have no idea of spacial awareness. The most well-meaning first grader will throw their biggest shovel dig with a friend right next to them or run down a gravel hill holding clippers no problem. Jobs were bean picking, bean shelling, rock moving, vegetation clipping.
On the way to a more controlled garden, students discovered everything from Hawaiian Blind Snakes to white cockroaches, to a spider eating a centipede. Teams of students no one would have put together join to move rocks or clip a tunnel. Most gardeners get into a groove and go to town working for the earth until I tell them its time to clean up.
Our students work hard like FBI. Kids and microorganisms have more in common than I thought.
I am totally enchanted by my herbal medicine magic class. They are eight kids strong, grades 1-5; overflowing with excitement to be in the garden and wowed by herbs.
We spent the first class making journals and collecting leaf specimens. I told them that in Hawaii the first people that grew medicine here honored garden gods and goddesses by introducing oneself and leaving an offering. The offering could be a song or a shell, but a blessing should be left whenever an herbal practitioner harvests their medicine.
We sang the first verse of "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine." as a gift for the herbs.
Little people barely able to traverse the garden without tripping because they are so small, with journals and pencils in hand rushed into our overgrown garden like they were going to the fair. "This is lemongrass. The tea is good for your brain, " I told them. Immediately, mini fingers reaching out for leaf samples. Just as immediately, "Ms. Krista can I have tape?" They secured samples into journals students made out of scratch paper.
We examined 15 herbs/weeds around the campus, and took notes about each one.
Last class, I handed out the herb collection bags I made them out of my old t-shirts (that's not gross is it?) and made medicinal infusions. Students copied down that an infusion is cooking the healing properties of an herb into another substance like water or oil. They also wrote down two magical recipes. Children gathered equal parts mint, lavender, and lemon balm to make a tummy settling, restful tea and a little rosemary and a lot of lemongrass to make a brain energizing tea.
The washed herbs were cut up and placed in a big pot on the garden hot plate by careful children. I got crazy and let them sweeten the concoctions with agave nectar (none of them had tasted it and of course they all wanted seconds). Back in the day, traditional Hawaiian medicine was often given with plenty sugar cane to make it palatable. "I like this infusion Ms. Krista!" shouted one second grader. Most treated the yummy and healthful teas like treasure and preserved them by replacing the water in their take-home bottles with their tasty new healing remedy.
My classes with these inspired young gardeners are no less than enchanting. When these kids enter the garden, butterflies are more colorful and birds more singsongy. Next week Medicine Woman Darlene and her husband Earl are coming to herbal magic class to talk about the wonders of ginger! Enchanted again!
Krista Joan says:
My mission is to teach, train, and testify in resistance to the white supremacy of my ancestors. My personal choices are political, powerful, and practical. Let's trash waste.