To Be a Gardener

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I grow plants for many reasons; to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow. – David Hobson

The garden is a magical place. No matter which group of children I bring, I find myself watching their faces light up as they explore the pathways, identify the tomatoes and bell peppers, pick and taste herbs, figure out the hose and exclaim in pure joy as they nourish our plants with a spray of water.

While it took me some time and self-acceptance to be okay with this new class enjoying the harvest that our last class worked so hard planting, I can now see the benefit of this cycle.

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Gardeners, I think, dream bigger then emperors. – Mary Cantwell

Being a gardener requires trust and patience, two things that newly three year olds (and really, many people) aren’t yet great at. When they first start in our classroom though they get to see the fruits of past gardeners labor. They get to harvest the crops, cook with the ingredients, discover new foods. Then winter comes and goes and they are ready to start a garden of their own – already knowing why we are putting so much work into this garden. Why we are careful with the baby seedlings, and water just so often. They know why we are weeding the garden and prepping the soil. They understand the garden’s cycle because they were already on the other side of it once before.

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The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. – Gertrude Jekyll

This cycle adds a whole other element of what it means to be a gardener for me. To be a gardener is also to spread the love of gardening. To show others the incredible place we have grown to love. To care for one garden is to hopefully plant the need to garden in others; to create more and more gardens on a planet that desperately needs them.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

This class is quickly discovering the benefits of gardening. They also get to hear, read, and see all about the hard work that went into this garden. The lady bug home is in the garden as a reminder of the aphids we worked so hard to get rid of. The spare bamboo rods are laying on the edge of the garden – and show the parts we used to help our crowded plants grow up instead of out. The painted strawberry rocks are where our strawberry plot used to be, which show how we tried to deter the birds from eating our delicious strawberries.

They are learning the history of our garden, as they begin to develop a history of their own.

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