Educational opportunities abound on a farm and in a garden. Two groups of school kids spent extended stays here last month, and I spearheaded garden projects at two different Nashville schools. I am learning a lot.
Last fall I got a message from Brad, a teacher at High Mowing School in New Hampshire. He had attended our Biodynamic Conference back in 2000 and it “changed his life”. He became a gardener and then a garden director at this Waldorf High School, and wanted to bring some students down for a week in April.
It was chilly spring weather, so instead of the campground and outdoor facilities they used the new barn and my kitchen. Fifteen New England kids, ranging from freshman to seniors, experienced a Tennessee farm. We dug out briars, weeded the onion patch, cleaned up the berries and took long hikes.
When they piled in the house to get warm and rest, I was pleasantly surprised to see them all reading books. They had smart phones but weren’t obsessed with using them. Livi knitted a hat for my grandson, Austin asked questions about his garden, and Feona explained the contrast of comedy and evil in Shakespeare’s plays. It was good to see higher education alive and well
Soon after they left, Linden Waldorf school had their annual 3 day adventure for the 3rd graders. Now we really had fun, running around and being 10 years old. We had bonfires and played in the creek. A treasure hike up Grissom holler yielded lots of geodes for them to take home.
A few years ago I double dug four garden beds for them, and they asked me back. A group of teachers and parents came to the workshop on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I explained the concepts of opening up the deeper layers of soil, minerals, composting and soil biology. Then we got to work and removed the topsoil, loosened up the subsoil, pushed the adjacent topsoil on to it, loosened that subsoil, and continued down the beds.
We added lime and wood ashes for minerals, and raked in the compost on top. Lettuce, radishes and green onion sets were planted after an hour of stirring horn manure and applying it. Several folks were inspired to dig in their own garden beds so the plant roots could really penetrate deeper.
A friend of the farm from Davidson Academy invited me to dig a garden for them. The soil was really compacted and we had to use the pick a lot more than the shovel. We added a few buckets of sand from the nearby volleyball court to help keep the clay loosened up, and we also stirred up some horn manure. The students and teachers enjoyed the afternoon, and we soon had the quick growing salad garden of lettuce, radish and green onions planted.
Kids offer a fresh and nonjudgmental attitude that opens me up. The awe and wonder of discovering new things and new capabilities in themselves is food for thought and introspection. The world will be taken over young people, and that’s a good thing.