Digging is a consistently favored activity by all the children.
Avid gardeners will have extensive plans under way for their gardens. Seeds will have been purchased, some even planted indoors. The ground is being cultivated, and perhaps new systems for rodent management are being put in place. A lot of work and thought has already gone into what will likely become a very lush and productive garden.
There is a whole other batch of gardeners out there, though. They may have less experience, less knowledge or simply less time. They maybe first-timers, nervous about the whole process. They maybe working families with a lot on their plates already that still hold the desire to plant something small in their back yards. The Rose Rock School is a lot like that last one, lately.
Gardens can certainly feel daunting, and they can certainly become overwhelming. But they don’t have to hold any of these qualities. After two years- and several seasons- of trying to start something new here at the White House, we could toss out the shovel and say, “Bah! Maybe later.” We could purchase fresh produce from a local farmer at the market and call it a good try on the garden. And that would be a fine choice.
But we will persist on our gardening dreams because we deeply understand the impact this experience will have on the children we care for here. There is so much to offer in the relationship they have to the food we (will) grow and the process of growing it.
As one of the LifeWays Principles explains: In infancy and early childhood, daily life experience is the “curriculum.” That means that anything that would be going on at home- from cooking to cleaning, playing and resting- goes on here at school because that is how children learn best, and build a strong foundation for life.
As we have encountered two failed attempts on a garden at the White House, all due to various reasons, we have
A solid garden attempt in the second year brought us through tilling and building boxes.
been modeling to the children here the qualities of perseverance and hope. Those qualities take a person a long way in life.
They have acquired experience in practical life skills such as planning, building, digging turf and soil, tending compost, and weeding. They have gained knowledge about active gardening at the (former) Purple House where we had a thriving garden for several years.
They have learned to collaborate with each other on extensive projects, gaining interpersonal skills such as working together towards a common goal and compromising.
The act of growing and harvesting our own food has demonstrated the deep connection and dependence we have on nature. Reverence for the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms has been cultivated. The seeds of appreciation for what good food does for our bodies have been planted and tended. All of this builds a healthy sense of life and self.
And so this year, we embark upon our third gardening attempt at the White House . Some friends helped build three fresh boxes for us this past autumn, and we have seeds saved from the last couple years, so we’ll have a good start. And we’re starting simple- just a few different plants now and adding as the seasons change. This way, we won’t feel overwhelmed and we’ll really be able to put a (small) harvest on the table this year.
Plus, we’ll be giving ourselves something to look forward to next year as we build it up slowly. Maybe we’ll fit into that “avid gardeners” category… someday.