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How does your garden help you connect?

  • 1.  How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 11:50:00 AM

    It’s Kids Garden Month! This year, the Kids Garden Month theme is “How does your garden care for you?”. Every year, KidsGardening holds a month-long contest for kids and this year we’re also celebrating here in the Kids Garden Community with a weekly discussion so all of us educators, caregivers, and volunteers can get in on the fun!

    Each Tuesday, we’ll start a thread related to the theme and anyone who responds is entered into a drawing to win a weekly garden goodie package! Prize details and kids contest info is provided here.

    This week’s topic: How does your garden/gardening connect you to your community, other people, or nature?

    Amelia Dupuis
    Kids Garden Community Manager

  • 2.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 12:27:00 PM
    Through my role at school, I have met so many wonderful and interesting people as a part of the local community garden network!  I first became involved with the Ovid Community Garden because it is located right next to our school campus.  I was able to get kids involved with the creation and set up of that garden so many years ago.  Now, serving on the garden committee for that same garden, we are able to grow our garden to include not only the community members but our local Farm to School programming.  Besides the wonderful people that manage that garden, I have also met so many community members in that garden space, and have had great interactions between the community members and the students that are in my new-this-year gardening class!  Just two weeks ago I was contacted by another local community garden and we are starting to work together to get more community members and students active in their community garden.  Another connection I may not have made without being involved with the garden here at school.  Almost anything that we do in the building that is garden related is a conversation starter!  The garden not only grows food, but relationships and communities as well.

    Patty Parsons

  • 3.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 01:28:00 PM
    We have both a prairie restoration garden with a focus on flowering plants along with a vegtable garden.   These are all cared for by my 3rd - 5th grade students as well as our after school community education program.   This has allowed the students to take ownership of the gardens, and led to them planting not only salad fixings for teachers, but pick and take vegtables.   In previous years the local Boy Scout troop has completed a community service project in our garden ranging from planting, mulching pathways, to building garden boxes.  Our high school also does a yearly community service project that has ranged from building a garden shed to mulching and weeding.  This garden was first built over 20 years ago and to see the connections between generations in our small community has been wonderful.  

    This year we have an exciting change in how our school garden connects to both our local and extended community.  A couple who are persuing their master gardener certification have agreed to focus on our school gardens as their major project.  This in turn has connected us to the entire Master Gardener program through the University of Minnesota, the DNR,  a chapter of the Audobon Society, and even more parents.  Enough so that we might try to have a tea party this late spring.

    Rebecca Newsom

  • 4.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 01:50:00 PM
    I am the children's librarian for our village's public library and summers are my favorite because I get to do my storytimes outdoors in our community garden. I help the children connect to the plants and animal life in the garden through stories and crafts designed to foster a respect for nature and for the environment. Nurturing this connection with the outdoors is a deep passion of mine! Through the community garden and our library's collaboration with the local park board, I have met many fantastic gardeners and connected with local scout troops. This camaraderie is even more fulfilling when we realize that we are working toward the same ends.

    Linda Lewis

  • 5.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 01:55:00 PM
    What started as a summer camp garden to connect upper elementary and middle school kids with where their food comes from has expanded far beyond what we ever envisioned.  We still have our small camp garden but a number of years ago a scholar at the University of South Carolina asked us to do an experimental grow out of an old, old crop called Sea Island Red Peas.  Those peas have now returned to the Gullah lands where they were grown by the enslaved and are now grown by their descendants.  The peas are sought after by chefs throughout the country because they are such a wonderful food. 
    Our grow out experiment then became an experiment to reintroduce an old and rare dent corn variety called Cocke's Prolific -- the original corn for grits.  Only 7 sites in the US were given seed for this attempt in 2020.  It was a roaring success.  We supplied seed to the USDA for them to attempt to get it grown out and back into the market.  That experiment is leading us into working on a rematriation project with a Haudenosaunee (Mohawk).  We will be growing out a very rare corn, called Tuscarora Red, that started in the South but ended up in New York and Canada and is only grown by 1 or 2 people now. 
    Along with the rematriation, we began growing the Dutch Fork Pumpkin, which is a Cherokee variety.  We had so many seeds that I made them available on Kids Gardening Community. To date, we have sent seed to kids' gardens in every state except Hawaii.  Apparently, no seed company is carrying Dutch Fork any longer, so we have supplied seed to several small farms in Virginia and South Carolina.  People have been so gracious and sent us gourd and flower seeds in return. 
    Our little beds of Alabama Red okra, Cherokee Purple tomatoes, and Cosmic carrots have allowed us to connect with wonderful people all over the country and to share our knowledge and experiences to help the rising tide float all boats! 


    Michelle Zupan
    Hickory Hill

  • 6.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 02:07:00 PM
    We have a community garden that raises fresh produce and donates half of the harvest to the local food pantries. The many wonderful volunteers that tend the garden have had a tremendous impact on helping to reduce hunger in our community. They even grow and share fresh herbs as a way to encourage others to cook in a healthier manner. 

    We also have a water-conserving demonstration garden to encourage residents to switch to sustainable landscaping. It is always a beautiful place to visit, even in winter. My favorite part about the garden is that it is next to a local creek so we have many wildlife friends who drop by - rabbits, mice, birds, owls butterflies, bees, dragonflies, lizards, anoles, spiders, bobcats, coyotes, skunks, turtles, and even the occasional beaver.

    Erin Hoffer
    Sustainability and Environmental Education Division (SEED)
    Plano TX

  • 7.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 02:13:00 PM
    For our Kids Garden Club, we invite K-6 children and their families to join us to read stories, learn about gardening, and do hands-on gardening activities. We work on the garden together and then are able to share in the rewards that the garden gives back: tomatoes, peppers, basil, and more. I am able to connect to families in the community and the families are able to connect with each other through the shared experience. This year we will further connect to nature by starting a pollinator garden and understanding how pollinators help our garden grow.

    Karen Stuppi
    Children's Librarian
    New Brunswick Free Public Library

  • 8.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 02:26:00 PM

    Gardening in my rooftop community garden and in partner school gardens connects me to so many people I might not have ever known if not for being in the same physical space at the same time. I have met many neighbors and school staff, exchanged pleasantries with passing strangers, laughed about seeing shared media, commiserated about the weather, and listened to whatever is on my community members' hearts and minds. Recently I have explored with PreK and Kindergartners, finding shared delight in tasting parsley and cabbage leaves, feeling smooth and spiky leaves, and digging in the soil. We have even shared a hummus snack and rainbow fruit skewers-the quietest time I've experienced in the garden, listening to birdsongs in between munches. Time in the garden deepens relationships of all kinds, especially with the plants that are already there and ones we start from seed and introduce via seedlings. I discover more about soil and compost, decomposers and insects, birds and bees. I am so grateful for the time I share with all of these beautiful living beings.  

    Allie Arnold
    Friends of the National Arboretum
    Washington DC

  • 9.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 02:51:00 PM
    For me, the time spent outside in the garden or in the greenhouse are wonderful moments to just relax and notice life. Each time I see something different - like the rooting of armadillos and opossums in the garden, the flittering of butterflies and moths, the buzz of bees and other insects, the songs of birds, and the new growth of the garden plants (and of the weeds that must be handled). And when the students are working in the garden, they see it as well.

    The act of watering and caring for the plants is a form of meditation, centering me and making me feel a part of the cycle of life. The students and I love to taste what we grow and it makes us feel connected to the land. Additionally, every year we grow seedlings to sell to our school community which further connects us. I love hearing back from teachers and students about how their plants grew, how many tomatoes they harvested, what pretty flowers they had, etc.

    This year, we have ambitiously begun the process of reclaiming some of our landscape planting beds throughout campus, which have been a bit neglected in recent years, in order to add bee habitat and just beautify our spaces. This is another form of connecting us to the land at our school. Seeing this develop and transform will also transform those that work on the project. I know we will feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment once it is done.

    Patricia Nicoll
    Saint Mary's Hall

  • 10.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 02:53:00 PM
    Our school garden is a favorite place for our students to learn.  While in the garden, we connect with our surroundings by observing the birds, bees, and butterflies that visit the plants daily.  We notice the gopher holes and spider webs that remind us that our garden is a home to many living things.  We breathe deeply and thank the plants for the clean air they give us, and exhale loudly to feed the plants!  We talk about how important our garden is to us and to the earth.  
    Our local community and master gardeners have become a regular site in our garden.  With their expertise, we have been able to gopher-proof some of our planter beds and offer our families classes on healthy eating.  We are so fortunate to have a space that brings people and living things together!

    Kimbark Elementary School
    San Bernardino CA

  • 11.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 02:57:00 PM
    Our school has a Farm2Fork program that I am fortunate to teach. Many years ago I trained as a horticulturist and am thrilled to be able to use these skills  to connect with the next generation. We have a small garden and greenhouse and my students LOVE to grow fruits and vegetables. Each week I teach 4 classes and it is so fun to connect with the students over the garden and over food we prepare with what they harvest. Just a few weeks ago I had a student who said as we were up potting seedlings " I can't grow anything, every time I try I kill it" . Last week I got to show him the plants that HE successfully grew and he was elated!

    In addition to my regular Farm2Fork classes, I connect with core subject area teachers to help integrate the garden into their lessons. One recent example is an English class that was ready Stone Soup. The class harvested vegetables from the garden and made their own version of Stone Soup (in the Instant pot). They all loved it, especially the teacher!

    My upper elementary students have been growing summer crops from seed over the past few weeks. This has involved sowing the seeds, thinning as needed, up potting and will end with a student led plant sale where they will have the opportunity to sell the plants they grew to parents. Proceeds from the sale will go into funding the school garden. They will also donate vegetable seedlings to two local community gardens that are just starting up.

    Every summer we have parent volunteers who sign up for a week to tend the school garden, they also get to harvest anything that is ready to eat! Our families love this opportunity to not only connect to the school through volunteer work, but also to get their hand dirty and enjoy some fresh garden produce.

    For me personally, I love that my garden teaching allows me to connect with students and to connect them with nature and the garden. This is a life long skill that they will carry (hopefully) home to their garden, but also, well into their adult years. The school garden also enables me to connect with the parents of our students, teachers and our greater community through local community gardens. When ever I am working in the garden, someone stops by to see what we are growing, what I am doing etc. Gardens are a conversation starter, that is for sure!

    Anne Baines
    Cornerstone Prep Academy

  • 12.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 03:23:00 PM
    As an avid gardener, I bring my environmental passion into the school library hub where I work. Through offering planting options to the high schoolers at my school, I'm able to connect with them on a new level. I reach out to local gardening groups and area libraries offering seed exchanges to assist with the varied projects at school. Last fall we celebrated the Year of the Sunflower, ironic now with all that's going on in the world, and several students are still nurturing their plants. This semester, we're planting a salad or flower garden 4-pack, using drink holders to hold the peat pots. I'm excited at the deeper conversations students and I have through the process. Leftover plants will go into a community garden outside the school library doors. I hope our students can eventually offer a community herb garden outside, like the one I saw in the Bremen town square in Germany a few years ago.

    My very first library planting project was called Plant a Pizza (garlic, tomatoes, basil, and onions) when I transitioned from the public library into the school library. The positive response the students gave me helped me continue creating indoor gardening projects and start dreaming of a community garden students can start in the school library.

    TLC (Tracey) Nielsen
    Grayslake Community HS District 127
    Grayslake IL

  • 13.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 07:45:00 PM
    I run an after school Ag Club at the middle school I work at.  Over the years I have found that the biggest connection students have is to their families.  MANY of my students have family members who work in agriculture, yet they do not know about what their parents do.  Once they start in Ag Club they return week after week telling me about how they discussed with their parents or grandparents what we did in Ag Club.  I love that connection that is being made!

    Jennifer Dobbie Epley

  • 14.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 08:00:00 PM
    As our school garden teacher, managing our gardens has encouraged me to connect with my Las Vegas community. Over the years I have been able to draw attention to the fun, excitement, and dirty work of our students and families, through collaborative work with local and national organizations like Green Our Planet, Fuel Up to Play 60, The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Junior Master Gardeners, The Rotary Club and countless others. Thanks to our community partners, our students will be able to grown along with our garden program for years to come.

    Sarah Clancy

  • 15.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-05-2022 08:53:00 PM
    I am a parent volunteer who has integrated a Green Team into our community service program for my son's elementary school. Every month I create an environmental awareness project for students to participate in after school and they earn community service hours. I also organize monthly beach and park clean ups for the students to earn community service hours. We've connected with county park Rangers to join us in the park clean ups. We've also connected with local biologists to visit our campus and help our students create a DIY vermiculture compost bin. We've had the local master gardeners chapter help with putting together a raised bed butterfly garden using native pollinator plants. I've found that there are a tremendous amount of resources in our community and all I had to do was reach out. I never imagined it would be so easy to bring community members together to help our students connect with nature and explore all the different ways to help and be a part of our community.

    Andrellia Oyarzabal

  • 16.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-06-2022 08:14:00 AM
    I think the connection that children and adults make with the natural world is an important part of the gardening experience. I love to see the excitement light up in a child's eyes when they discover their first worm in the garden, spot a ladybug, or see those first seeds breaking the surface of the soil.  Like many of us, I discovered my love of gardening and nature as a child, I hope to bring that life enhancing experience to a new generation of children.  Gardening can create multigenerational learning experiences. I credit my love of nature to my family, my grandma who was in a wheelchair was an avid bird watcher and would often care for me as a young child outdoors. I would run through the thick Pennsylvania woods surrounding our house on the hill freely exploring nature and building my own connections. Some of my earliest memories are gardening with my mom and aunts. For them it wasn't an intellectual pursuit but a way of life.  When we garden with children we can share those multigenerational skills and knowledge and plant the seeds of discovery in each child.

    Vicki Uden

  • 17.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-06-2022 10:31:00 AM
    Gardening has been part of my life for such a long time as a way to connect with my family and my community. I went to a farm camp and getting my hands in the dirt is where i made some of my closest friends. It also helps me see how plants work and have a greater love of nature

    Ben Lefkowitz
    Foodcorps/ Morgan Village Middle School
    Camden NJ

  • 18.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-06-2022 11:42:00 AM
    Our Garden has brought students and teachers together. We have also connected closely with our after school program.  They love helping in the garden. I am the Enrichment teacher and garden coach for K-6.  Our garden has been transformed into a place welcoming  all students and teachers in our school.  It is a garden space that cares for each and every child at our school. It is  a friendly space where our students with special needs also have an opportunity for daily outdoor learning, as well as our young learners, and all students here. We were able to  create a garden of learning, not just a garden of vegetation and planter boxes. It has become a place where teachers can bring their students out for core classes, exploration, serenity, or for a place students  can build both fine and growth motor skills. We have  several areas  transformed into a  sensory garden. In this area students can use their five senses to explore various materials in our garden such as stone pathways, stepping stones and balance beams, sidewalk chalk,  artificial  grass, plastic dinosaurs, chimes to ring, bird feeders, rock tower stations, digging station, tractor station, building blocks, a fountain for frogs, bug catchers, and other various items that are a safe engaging portion of our garden for learning. Essentially, this space has become a classroom for them in itself.  Each class has their own garden box to maintain and grow fruits or vegetables of their choice.  It has brought all of us together, because we are all in charge of the learning that happens in our garden.  This area is now dedicated to engaging students in furthering their love of the outdoors and love of our school garden.

    Christy Hodge
    Portola Ca

  • 19.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-06-2022 01:07:00 PM
    I am in charge of the greenhouse and educational vegetable garden at the school where I work.  During the school year, I connect with teachers on how our garden space can become a classroom to reinforce lessons.  I connect with and mentor students who volunteer their time to weed, water and care for the plants. In the summer, our faculty step in to help nurture and harvest our bounty.  It is fun seeing my colleagues in a new light with dirty hands and smiles on their faces as they connect with nature as well.  My role as gardener also connects me to my community as I've joined countless Facebook and online groups (like this one!) to seek out advice and best practices. They are there for me to gripe and find solidarity and levity in dealing with difficult weather or pests. Gardening connects me with nature, as my time working the soil is meditative and restorative, the antithesis to a digital desk job. I love sharing this space with my community!

    Sue Cianfrani

  • 20.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-06-2022 10:47:00 PM
    It gives me a way to connect with others who care about growing things.   I have met so many amazing people through the school garden I lead.

    Camille Walker
    Elementary school garden

  • 21.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-07-2022 11:25:00 AM
    Edited by NAVA KIRK 04-07-2022 11:32:35 AM
    I am usually one to read posts, but not necessarily respond myself.  However, the responses to this particular question are so inspiring that I just had to write THANK-YOU to everyone who has responded and shared.

    I run a small nonprofit  (all volunteer based)that installs hydroponic gardens at local schools, and then stays on as an active partner to ensure the gardens succeed.   These are large gardens, most have capacity to grow 1,000+ plants.  I have been doing this labor of love for the last 5 years and sometimes when: the weather is too hot, bugs and disease are too aggressive, weeds are taking over, students forget to water or add nutrients, and in-person restrictions prevent us from having the level of programing we strive for - I am so grateful to connect with the larger gardening community such as this one and feel inspired all over again.      

    I garden BECAUSE it connects me.    We all need to feel a part of something- and gardening gives us the physical space to allow for those deeper connections to others and to ourselves.  


  • 22.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-07-2022 01:43:00 PM

    I work with 3rd graders and this month we are beginning our gardening journey together! We sat down to discuss the topic about how gardening helps us connect to our community, other people and nature. These are some of their responses:

    "I think gardening helps us with teamwork and we make friends because you bond with them doing gardening and you work on your gardening skills together." 

    "It teaches me to be nice to nature because I won't throw it if it doesn't grow like everyone else's plant, so I have to be patient with it."

    "It helps me be healthy because we are growing healthy foods and we will eat them. We can share with everyone so they can be healthy too like in the book we read about community gardens and giving food to people that don't have food. We can give it to the animals too."

    "Gardening makes me a hard worker because it's not easy to plant my own food. I might forget to water it, so maybe my friend will do it for me and mine will grow and we can both eat it."

    Andrea Prado

  • 23.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-07-2022 06:28:00 PM
    We have two gardens in different areas of the county. In the one garden, we provide education through signage so that visitors can learn more about the vegetables being planted whenever they choose to stop. We are also working to get local teens involved in helping (and learning) at the garden. The produce from this garden is donated entirely to our local food bank. We have found that this is the best way to help those who are experiencing food insecurity in this part of the county, and the clients love the fresh produce. In the other garden, we also donate all of the produce, but we donate it to another organization that provides free meals to people who are hungry. They provide over 100 meals a day. Last year was our first year having this partnership with them, and some things weren't as popular. We learned that leeks and certain types of tomatoes, for example, were more popular with the clientele, and of more use to the staff who cooked the meals. So this year, we are trying to gear what we plant to their wishes. We are so excited to be able to help in this way.

    Gloria Wilson

  • 24.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-08-2022 02:15:00 PM
    Gardening connects me to people and nature! Through my work as a Farm to School coordinator, my hope is to help others to be able to realize all that there is to connect to gardening in their daily lives! I enjoy being able to work with students in an alternative schooling environment where they can learn through hands-on experience. Recently, I have enjoyed the web of the Farm to School world -- connecting with others in similar spaces. These conversations help to blossom my excitement for new projects and keeps my fire burning!

    Sharing space with gardens, soils, seeds, fresh produce reminds me that we all are connected, with every breath, birth, death, we all contribute to the process of gardening.

    Kyle Weatherhogg

  • 25.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?

    Posted 04-09-2022 02:39:00 PM
    Nature manifests in our school garden set in an urban area connecting myself and my students to soft pauses among hectic bell routines and to each other. We started milkweed last year and it's proliferated itself! One of my students just returned on Thursday this week after 2 weeks of absence. Her younger brother tragically was killed in a a car accident. The day she returned a storm blew in during her class. As we all quickly cleaned to get inside, she came to me with an injured Monarch on her hand that had landed. She had walked 100 yds or more with it on her finger and showed me. Priceless! She set it in a safe spot as the storm arose. Then yesterday, another of my more rugged studentse had a ladybug land on her! And she stopped, paused ... all the chaos and rough edges of her personality stopped. I saw a tender young girl emerge within her and she said aloud, "Oh my gosh, I haven't seen a ladybug in years." Was priceless.

    Kimberley Lough
    W.D. Sugg Middle School
    Bradenton FL

  • 26.  RE: How does your garden help you connect?