“Can I get my hands dirty?” Cynthia asks me, looking up from the soil she is about to mix up with chicken fertilizer. “Yes!” I say, “get them as dirty as you possibly can!” Wide eyes and a big grin greet me; she can’t quite believe that a teacher would actually encourage her to not only get a little dusty, but as dirty as she possibly can. Little hands dig deep and the soil mixing begins.
The last few weeks have involved a lot of prep work. Cleveland Garden needed a significant amount of reconstructive work and so, that’s what the kids and I have been doing. Moving soil, mixing soil, planting seeds and above all – seeing little seedlings sprout and guessing what plant this magical little green thing might turn into when it grows up.
The community has been become increasingly involved over the weeks in the garden. Santa Barbara and Oreana Wineries donated a total of six wine barrels, which Ramsey and I cut in half. They are excellent, small planters that can be moved anywhere. Currently they form a line along the backside of the garden, creating a break between the mulched area and the field behind it. This lends the garden a sense of structure and visual organization.
Engel & Gray, Inc. has committed 15 yards of soil to be brought to the P.E. ground on Thursday, December 2nd. This will lend itself beautifully to the small workday being held Saturday, December 11th. Much of our plan for the workday still needs ADA Approval, however, I hope to get it as we have been good about sticking with regulations so far and the portability of the wine barrels, which will be moved to align with the concrete pathway, lends itself to keeping the garden handicap accessible.
The Coyote Handbook has been my companion lately and I’ve found it working its way into my life, affecting my communication style and how I work with the kids. After reading it, I realized that for a long time I approached kids as little adults, subconsciously thinking that their comprehension style is very similar to mine. The Coyote Handbook woke my awareness to the differences between grown-ups and children, and has been showing me how to tap into their trickster energy to their advantage and mine. Needless to say, this week has been the most successful so far!
To finish my story about Cynthia above… I look over and find her hands and elbows covered in soil. She’s not worried about it – that’s what the hose is for! She also discovered that the ‘smelly dirt’ is safe, fun and full of interesting textures. Her classmates find worms and ever since we added a vermicompost bin of ‘pet worms’ to the garden, the kids find them to be fascinating and ‘gross’ is a word I haven’t heard in weeks. After we finish mixing soil, the hose is brought out. Hands are washed and then squeels of laughter meet the fine mist of water as I spray it high up into the air, providing a cool down after a long, satisfying day in the garden.