Earlier this week, I presented a soil unit Power Point for 150 elementary school kids to get ready to start up the school gardens for spring. I could never have predicted how urban children would react to the world beneath their feet.
After we collected cafeteria veggie waste from each of five different grades at lunch (1st thru 5th, a paper box’s worth each lunch), some classes and their teachers tagged along after lunch to see me build lasagna gardens with their own eyes.
They circled around the garden bed and gave me their ears and eyes. We talked about fungus (showed them the leaf mold). We talked about earthworms and nematodes (showed them some wrigglers!). They watched as I moved aside a section of soil in the bed, then layer wet cardboard, their food waste, compost, dry leaves, then more wet cardboard, more waste, more compost, more leaves…then finish by topping it all with the soil I had moved off one shovel at a time. All the while, raised hands asked great questions for which I had an answer.
I even cracked a joke or two:
Why is it the mushroom always gets invited to the cool parties? A: Because he’s really just a FUN GUY.
One end of each bed is left as is so that kids can compare how seeds grown into plants with and without organic amendments.
Should be a great science experiment — nature hasn’t disappointed me yet.
Once it gets watered, this 2nd bed (like the 1st one the day before) will be ready for seeds. The 4th grade students — the garden’s stewards — will lightly water the beds daily until the seedlings have established, then will leave them to nature, watering only occasionally if required.
Elapsed time for each garden presentation? 20 minutes.
Educational benefit? PRICELESS.
In somewhat of an impromptu fashion, four additional classes and the PTO president have also spectated the process. As kids started bugging their teachers about what they can do to help with the project, we couldn’t help but give them a peek and no one — not even me — had to get dirty.
Garden Bed #1
Second section showing layers.
(First section to the right done.)
Okay, well maybe I got a little dirty. And I certainly got a whole lotta love and hugs from some wonderful kids. That’s a great day in my book!