Kids learning how to garden

Click here for a Good Dirt Radio 5-minute eco-spot on kid gardens.

IMGP0854 - vege garden

IMGP0854 – vege garden (Photo credit: RaeAllen)

Backyard gardening is returning to the mainstream. When industrialized food production was born in the 20th century, people were ready for less work and more comfort. Generations have bought into the ease and availability of processed factory foods but our dependence on large-scale industrial food production has come at a huge cost. Most factory farms rely on the concentrated use of fossil fuels, toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers that poison the environment and our bodies. Meanwhile, organic gardening proponents, working from the sidelines, are seeing a resurgence in the art of growing healthy, local food. Today, leaders of the Organic Movement, such as the Organic Consumers Association, are fighting for our health by promoting rules such as labeling requirements for genetically modified and engineered foods. Many people have already taken dirt into their own hands and started gardening. They often find a payback for their work and create a pathway to more sustainable living and self-reliance. In the process, they’re also gaining an understanding of the natural limits of the biosphere. Large numbers of local schools now offer gardening time and educators say its one of the best places for kids to learn. In spite of current funding cuts, gardening programs continue to flourish in schools. Tune in to hear more about kids gardening, and the positive benefits they reap for a lifetime.

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Read transcript below.

Welcome to Good Dirt Radio, reporting on positive solutions…taking root.

Backyard gardening is returning to the mainstream. When industrialized food production was born in the 20th century, people were ready for less work and more comfort.  Generations have bought into the ease and availability of processed factory foods but our dependence on large-scale industrial food production has come at a huge cost.  Most factory farms rely on concentrated use of fossil fuels, toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers that poison the environment and our bodies.   Meanwhile, organic gardening proponents, working from the sidelines, are seeing a resurgence in the art of growing healthy, local food.  Today, leaders of the Organic Movement, such as the Organic Consumers Association, are fighting for our health by promoting rules such as labeling requirements for genetically modified and engineered foods.
Many people have already taken dirt into their own hands and started  gardening.  They often find a payback for their work and create a pathway to more sustainable living and self-reliance.  In the process, they’re also gaining an understanding of the natural limits of the biosphere.   Large numbers of local schools now offer gardening time and educators say its one of the best places for kids to learn.  In spite of current funding cuts, gardening programs continue to flourish in schools.
In rural Kline, CO, we visited the Fort Lewis Elementary School… during garden class.  As a parent and Director of the Garden Project of SW CO, Sherry Fitzgerald teaches gardening to young and old alike with the aim of helping build a healthier community.  These kids are engaged, moving, learning and laughing. Beside the therapeutic and educational values of gardening, she says the kids practice a microcosm of real democracy.

Fitzgerald:  We work on consensus basis here in the garden so that every decision that’s made in this garden we make sure that every idea is heard and we come to a conclusion that can make as many if us, if not all of us, completely satisfied.   If somebody disagrees we want to hear what that is. If they have a new idea to offer we make sure that’s included before we move forward.    The garden can promote, obviously, academic integration, but most importantly, it’s the community development that they gain from this, how to make decisions as a group, how to learn about cooperation, how to deal with social issues.  But we also learn about artistic expression and then of course there’s math and science culture geography history.  The gamut can be taught here.

One elementary student says she loves her garden time at school and at home.  She is busy building a structure but I ask her what gardening means to her.

Asia:  I’m Asia, A-s-i-a. I think it’s like really cool because you get to learn how to plant, you get to dig in the dirt and its fun getting really dirty.   Digging and seeing how far actually you’re supposed to go down and why.  And how much water you’re supposed to give it, how much plant food you’re supposed to give it and how shady it is. And if its like a perennial, you have to like put in a space where you want it to stay forever.  And annuals, you can just plant another one next year.  Planting our own food is really good for our future and our community.  It’s just really cool.

Kenisha Valley is busy moving stones and laughing with her friends.  She is happy to take a break and cuts to the chase about families and local foods.

Valley: It’s good for you just to learn how to produce your own food.  My  Gramma does a lot of planting and gardening so it’s helping me learn how to produce my own food and other people’s food for the future.

Fitzgerald:  Many people have lost the ability to learn where their food has come from and these kids are learning what it means to grow their own food, what it means to take care of their community and what it means to share that with each other.  These kids are doing something with community decision-making that we as adults take a whole lifetime to learn how to do.  They’re learning about a democratic process and can teach us a lot about how that works at a very early age.

If gardening is a metaphor for a good life, teaching kids to garden could make a better world.  With the dangers of climate change becoming evident and the future of quality food uncertain, gardening for all ages promotes a respectful, beneficial connection with the Earth and can lead to more sustainable living.  For more on Kid Gardens, please visit us at gooddirtradio.org.

Buying local food supports local people, not industrial agriculture and its climate changing systems. We encourage you to shop locally and support local growers.

I’m Tami Graham and I’m Tom Bartels.  Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt Radio, digging up good news…. for a change.