Lookin’ Back!

It was just another day in the garden when I spied crawling slowly through the blades of grass a huge tomato worm.  It was camouflaged smartly so as to hide itself from its predators but it did not escape my watchful eye as I was tending the garden with the assistance of our student gardeners and a host of volunteers.  Tomatoe-horn-worm2Seeing this as another learning moment I jumped at the opportunity to draw the attention of the nearby kids to this fearless destroyer of tomato plants.  After a cascade of oohs and ahs…”what is that…oh, it’s nasty…can I touch it” type comments one little girl, who goes by the name of Jade, turned, looked down to see what everybody was talking about.  Her eyes opened wide and then with her “little big foot” she just stepped on the caterpillar.  She SMASHED it!  She then looked around at all the other kids, wiped her shoe on the grass, shrugged her shoulders as if she couldn’t understand what all the fuss was all about and why is it always left to her to do all of the dirty work.  AHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhh, it is wonderful to be outdoors and working with kids!

For many people, the idea of city school kids actively participating in gardening, urban farming if you will, just doesn’t make sense.  These kids are expected to be running the streets, playing sports or just gaming on either their cell phones or an x-box.  Gardening?  It’s not cool!  It’s not urbane!  It’s…it’s…well, it’s COUNTRY!  How is that FUN?

It was the spring of 2011 that we first started the garden here at Nolan Elementary-Middle School.  Since then we have had 4 different principals and we have been fortunate that each one has seen the educational and recreational benefit the garden provides for its students.  They see that one of its many values is its ability to be used as an extension of the classroom.  We teach math in our garden…measuring and calculating.  We teach science too.  Reading comes into play also.  We encourage leadership and teamwork skills.  They learn how to collaborate.  The garden, for them, is a place where their imaginations can run free and their minds can be as fertile as the soil they are playing/working in.  Here they can experience the wonder of growth and the humility that comes from understanding the power of what one seed can do.  The garden reflects the realities of life and the benefits of investment, commitment and hard work.  That might sound a little heavy for a bunch of 8, 9 and 10 year-olds, but amazingly they get it.

So here we are in 2016 getting ready to nurture our future world leaders from the ground up.  It is here where they will learn about sustainability and gain a deeper appreciation for the environment.  They are participating in the oldest rituals in the world…sowing, tending, and harvesting their own food.  There’s no better substitute!


Nolan First Day DSCN0530[1]


Nolan Garden 6.18.11 - 018


Nolan Garden 6.18.11 - 019


Maura IMG_2160-3 

 Maura IMG_2149-2


 Garden June 201229


Garden June 20126 

Garden breakdown photo 217[1]








 Nolan Garden 2013-18













 Cabbage Harvest


Pumpkin Seeds-2


Pumpkin Seeds 4


Pumpkin Seeds 5


Weighting Produce


Fruits of our labor-1




B.E. Culturally Exposed

Bonnie Odom-Brown

MIFCU logo and tagline

Andy Daily


Maura Ryan-Kaiser


Arthur Littsey


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Nancy Bowman said,

    Gives me goosebumps to see the children wanting to be involved. I just can’t tell you how great I think this idea is. Giving everyone survival “roots”! Exactly what they need! It will give meaning to their lives forever!

  2. 2

    Now that I am up to it again it is great to be out there with the kids. We have a big year planned for them. With the grant we were awarded we have added 9 new beds for a total of 21. Lots of room to grow fun stuff!

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