Word about the Children’s Garden at Jarboe Park is spreading, much like the mint sprawling through the garden. Attendance has approached 30 participants at some of the free Saturday events geared toward helping children – and their caregivers – connect with nature and the foods we eat.
Kelly Johnson, who helped to build the garden in 2011 and has worked with Montessori Tides children in their nature studies, said the weather made this spring interesting. The harvest yields were down a bit, she said, but interest in the garden is blooming.
“It seems to be catching on,” Johnson said.
It was more like latching on during the spring’s “Raw Harvest in the Garden.” The children couldn’t wait to harvest blackberries, cherry tomatoes, beans and herbs for a feast.
While the garden’s yield might be lower, the children still counted 50 plucked blackberries, with more ripening on the vines, and more than 120 tiny tomatoes. A complete count of the tomatoes was halted by one young boy who refused to let go of his prized basket of orange, yellow and green globes.
Although the spring garden programs have ended with the arrival of summer’s wilting heat, there are a few plants you can try at home. Lima beans, eggplant, okra, Southern peas, and peppers are good summer crops.
Other nature projects can include building a wormarium, which was demonstrated at the “Worms and Vermiculture” program.
If worms aren’t your idea of summer fun, find inspiration with Johnson’s book, “Wings, Worms and Wonder.” She’s offering a discount on book sales through her website.
Johnson also suggested some “light summer reading” for adults with “The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age” by Richard Louv.
The Children’s Garden remains open Saturdays during the Beaches Green Market from 2 to 5 p.m. for children to wander or harvest what’s available. A work social on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. is open to families to help care for the garden.
Johnson can recite much research on the importance of children – and adults – learning to connect with nature. This connection, Johnson said, can affect behavior, happiness, and health. Perhaps the most important aspect she noted, however, is that it can teach children how to care not only for the environment, but for their community, too.
Submitted by Amy Parmalee, parent at Montessori Tides School.