I write as I sit home through this, our 15th snow storm of the season. It’s got me yearning to be out in the sun, planting seeds in the garden! So I thought I’d share some of our plans…but first an admission. I feel like I was a complete failure at getting UrbanPromise kids in the garden last year. I thought if we built it they would come. Here we have this beautiful, 17 bed garden that everyone drives by to get to UP – teaming with produce last year – to be honest it was difficult getting much of the staff interested as well. Nadia (my garden guru) and I were reminiscing the other day about how we brought all this produce to an all staff meeting with the gracious invitation to take whatever looked good…and there it sat at the end of the day for us to take home! The freshly picked lettuce had dirt on the roots. Yuck. The eggplants were yellow – albeit firm and ripe – too weird. Tomatoes were popular at least…
I gained valuable insight from one of our wonderful volunteers who is passionate about bringing gardening into the classroom. Funny enough her name is Tony Farmer 🙂 – she has developed classroom curriculum for the Moorestown schools and has realized that the young teachers were never exposed to gardening as children, so they don’t understand all the teachable moments awaiting their students. She is excited to bring this curriculum to our Camden Forward School. In fact we are developing a team of gardeners: we have two Food Corps service members (same concept as Americorps) – one who will work with Tony to bring gardening into the classroom as well as help us plan and enhance our garden this year, and one who is helping us to write a wellness strategy, which will give us nutritional standards as we look forward to our new kitchen/cafeteria/food co-op opening. Additionally another volunteer, Allie, is willing to help us find more produce for our food co-op by organizing donations from local gardeners and farmers.
Our goal is to have students plant, raise, harvest and cook the ingredients for two meals a year – one in May (thinking it will be salad with peas) and one in the fall. I was heartened to witness what I have been preaching – which is that if kids cook it they will eat it – at our recent Wellness Center Open House earlier this month. A chef from our church, Phil Manganaro, taught some kids how to make lentil soup. They gobbled it up!
Here are two pictures – one of our snow garden, and one of Phil and the kids. Help me with my dreaming, will you? For surely soon it will be spring.