PLOP: There we were, 11:45 frantically chopping carrots, onions, and celery, mixing fresh herbs with 12 cans of waterless tuna. “They’re coming! Get out the Pita bread! Where are the journal supplies? Is there a platter big enough for all these oranges? What are we forgetting?”
My wonderful helpers (Lucy Block, Hector, Shamika, Christina and Pamela Warren from Slow Food) and I (Lisa Chodorkoff) had arrived at 10:00 and had been grocery shopping for two meals with 20 kids, writing up garden rules, and cutting out pieces of cardboard for journals for almost two hours. It was a swirling mess of colors, food and craft supplies: we were all incredibly excited… and a bit nervous for our first group of Live Light, Live Right kids to stroll through our Birch-tree surrounded front gate.
I had been planning curriculum with my colleagues for many weeks. I suppose it had occurred to me that I would be heading a full-blown summer program for kids, but the actuality of this was hitting me like a morsel from a food fight!
20 kids would be wandering the pristine and quiet McLeod garden: an oasis for community members Mary, Martha and Maria, a space for food-growing, herb-picking, and flower-smelling. Hopefully they wouldn’t tear it to pieces! And I was in charge!
However, the second that gate squeaked open the garden was filled with a sense of trust and patience–a general atmosphere of respect.
At McLeod, our programs have been structured a bit differently from the other gardens. We meet twice a week for 5 hours with kids from the Live Light, Live Right program–a program which focuses on addressing obesity as a disease and constructing a safe and fun environment for children with diabetes.
While our curriculum has been written for a group of 12 students for a four-day-a-week program, we have been adjusting this to cater to a larger group of kids meeting less frequently. The program’s focus has also shifted to deal primarily with issues regarding local and fresh food, utilizing the garden as a resource for teaching cooking classes and having a hands on investment in the food we grow and eat.
We were prepared for a pair of hectic days, but were pleasantly surprised when we were confronted with an active, perceptive and respectful group of students, ready to get their hands covered in dirt, crayons and guacamole!
We had an interactive garden scavenger hunt, created garden journals, made leaf rubbings, played fun name games, went over Rules Rules Rules, made fresh salsa and guacamole and enjoyed the fruits of our labor around a bright green picnic table!
So far we are off to a great start and looking forward to delicious food and active, hot days!