We started designing our replacement garden and the kids mapped it out. It immediately went into an interesting conversation about climate, since bananas, mangos, lemons and oranges were all on our garden list. It also led to conversations about where the food grows, on what type of plants. It is often surprising how little our kids know about these things.
When I worked in an alternative school on the South Side of Chicago, I was shocked at how naïve my students were. Although they had experienced such an intense life, having seen more violence than most people will ever see in a life-time, they hadn't experienced anything outside their four block radius. We went downtown Chicago, to Lake Michigan, only a few miles from where they lived, and none of them had been there. They have never been on the lake. The excitement was palpable.
I also brought them to a farm, it was just outside the city. It had a pumpkin patch and a stream with a beaver dam, and grassy fields. One of my toughest students was falling back in the grass and laughing hysterically. Nature is so healing.
We planted seeds and bulbs in the classroom as well, and I remember one day Damion came in and said, "Where did those plants come from?" I reminded him that we had planted the bulbs just a week or so ago, and he was dumbfounded. How is it our kids who have seen so much and experienced so much, are so disconnected from the earth and God's creation.
The joy of connecting to nature and knowing Mother Earth takes care of us, when we take care of her, is an invaluable lesson. Even if our garden won't have mango or banana trees, it will provide beauty and food. It will provide the awareness of where food comes from, not the grocery store, but the earth. I love what Za'Kea wrote on our paper, Foods = Plants. Indeed, it does.