There’s a real love affair going on in the schoolyard garden, and I can tell I’m not the only one. I don’t know if it’s spring, or our new flower garden, or our new ‘farmer’s market’ but what was once a Friday afternoon gig is now an everyday affair.
I can’t keep them away.
Which is fine with me, because in a garden, polyamory is permitted. In fact, the more the merrier!
Okay, okay, I don’t mean to sexualize the schoolyard garden. At all. Cross pollination and the bees take care of that. But the garden herself does magnetize all of us to her. The kids, the parents, the overworked and underpaid nannies who come to sit next to a pot of blooming rosemary.
In the garden, we seem to have developed different ‘departments.’ I have not organized any of this. At all. They’ve self divided and pollinated (Mendel would be proud) and seem to run their own show. There are the girls who only like to sell at the farm stand, the kids who love to package the wares to sell, the girls who like to pick posies and tie them into each other’s hair (and mine – which I love), the boys who like to pummel an old dead tree branch with garden tools as though their life depended on it (I let them do this when the other teachers aren’t looking), the ones who like to water, the worm researches, the harvesters, the eaters and this awesome kid named Alex who is pretty much one of the coolest kids ever because his favorite thing to do is clean up and organize all the old crap that I leave till ‘tomorrow’. Thanks Alex!
I cannot begin to express the joy that this entire little operation brings. And it runs itself. That’s the amazing thing to observe. With so much emphasis placed by adults on ‘real world’ rules, regulations, management, marketing, sales and production, I say come on down for an hour and just observe these kids. They are natural organizers, business people, stewards of the land.
I am not teaching this. I just open the space for it to happen.
They have a natural curiosity for caretaking and an inherent understanding of the basic business principals of barter and exchange. This is the farm stand’s third week in ‘production’ and we have made over a hundred dollars…selling lettuce leaves and lemons, people. With that money I purchased a new plum tree, paint for the benches and jasmine bushes (three) to cover the hideous chain link fence. And I still have a few bucks burning a hole in my pocket.
A couple of weeks ago a dad in a business suit came by to check things out. He offered his ‘suggestion’ to divide the garden crew kids into teams to ‘inspire them to work harder.’ I had to work hard not to drop an expletive on him. Are you kidding? They have divided themselves and are as inspired, hard working and productive a group as I’ve ever seen…naturally. This, by the way was the same guy who took oranges and herbs from our little farm table, but didn’t have any money on him. Really? I used it as an opportunity to teach the kids about the ‘honor system.’ It took him two weeks to pay me back the $3 he owed the kids, and yesterday, when he sheepishly took a $5 bill from his wallet, I took it from him and thanked him very much for his $2 donation to the garden.
Yes, it takes all kinds. That’s what makes life, and the garden such an interesting place.
Nowhere else I’d rather be.