Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hipster Supported Agriculture, Part III

Hipster Supported Agriculture is part of the KinderGardens project over at Inadvertent Farmer. Check it out to see how everyone's been gardening with kids all summer!

I spent the afternoon today at Peterson Garden working with three teens from Jewish Child and Family Services on the last empty plot in the garden. I'll be meeting with them and others from the program a few times each week after school and on weekends.

Today they got a tour of the garden, learned a little bit about what a community garden is, and harvested lettuce, giant zucchini (which I had somehow missed harvesting, so they got a little big), tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers, and chard from our "Farm2Give" plots. They planted some short-season seeds (radishes and lettuce) and broccoli starts. We talked about the importance of keeping the plot watered until the seedlings get established, and got them all to get their hands in the dirt.

I'll be helping them with the project through mid-October, and hope to get to talk about organic gardening, a little backyard botany, and eating your veggies. One girl categorically refused to eat a cherry tomato because "I don't eat vegetables." You just want to cry. How have we raised a generation that doesn't eat vegetables? She wanted me to come to their facility to teach them how to make pickles though.

So I've kind of run the gamut of city kids at this point-- I had my old student Katie in my own backyard, a girl from a well-off, even privileged background for whom the back story on gardening was unnecessary. Her parents, former hippies, had already indoctrinated her! and the idea of urban gardening was nothing new.

In July I worked with a Service Learning Group from the nearby high school. This group was very diverse racially and economically, but motivated and used both to creative thinking and interaction with engaged adults.

Today's group is from an at-risk population from very troubled backgrounds, with little stability in their lives. I went into it a little nervous; as a sports coach I've had lots of interaction with teens, and with disabled kids, but I have to tell you, you don't get a lot of "at-risk" children in an ice rink.

But they were just that-- children like any teens, on the brink of womanhood, asking intelligent questions, making excellent leaps of imagination based on some very cursory plant information I gave, and using knowledge from school to draw conclusions about what they were seeing in the garden.

All in all a very rewarding afternoon.

If you'd like to help Peterson Garden with projects like this, please visit the website and click on Donate in the menu bar. And thank you.


  1. How sad we are raising a generation of children that won't even try a veggie because it's a veggie! It sounds like you are involved in such worthwhile causes and helping to turn the tide back to gardening. A nation that can't feed it's self is a sad nation indeed.

  2. Wow...what a great post, you inspire me. Most importantly you are inspiring young people that need it so desperately! Great, great job...thanks for posting this. Kim

  3. Every moment spent with a child is a potential seed planted; years from now, that girl will taste her first ripe cherry tomato and remember your encouragement.