Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Common Threads World Garden

by: Linnzie Pandel

Common Threads World Garden is in full swing at Kenwood Community Park on 49th & Dorchester. The World Garden is an educational environment using horticulture to teach children how we, as a world family, share in the common threads of growing food. Our mission is to promote a nurturing relationship with the earth, encourage healthy eating and learn to embrace our cultural differences. We believe that our interactive approach can make a difference in understanding the ways in which food connects our communities.

Thirty five kids from Tuner Drew and Henderson Elementary Schools have helped wake up our sleepy winter garden into a flourishing spring array of blush English breakfast radish, spicy crisp greens and vibrantly colored Swiss chard. Herbs like basil, cilantro, oregano, mint, parsley and lavender have filled our once empty beds and surprise all of the kids week after week on the extent of their growth on their weekly return. You see, many kids in our world today and adults for that matter have never grown anything that they would one day consume. We write our grocery lists and enter a mega mart to purchase everything on that list without thinking of where it orginated. We don’t have the patience to wait for what we want now.
In the world garden, our kids planted broccoli 60 days ago and are now seeing the beautiful flowers bloom. It has been a proud moment when our kids run over to see the progress of something that once fit in the palm of their hands. They have never seen the stages of a real growing strawberry. “Why are they green?” someone asked during early spring. Just three short weeks later the kids were harvesting their first crop of perfect, bright red, sweet aromatic strawberries! It was a very exciting day for everyone involved in the World Garden.
The kids are excited to come back to the garden to see their plants grow but they have also enjoyed the meals that we have created with the fruits and vegetables of our garden. The garden doesn’t have a kitchen but with a small butane burner and lots of helping hands we have created a Garden Vegetable Stir-fry, Pesto Pasta with Brocolli Rabe and Thai Spring rolls. The kids have embraced all of the “new” food that they have been educated on except for the coconut milk that was strained out of the world’s largest seed, the coconut!
Last week the garden students had a special visitor, Urban Worm Girl, Amber Gribben. The students have seen garden helpers like butterflies and worms before, but Amber brought in information about worms that no one even knew about. “Worms eat your garbage! Worms don’t have teeth but they are able to ingest approximately half their body weight in food per day. The waste left behind is called castings and casting help to replenish the earth with vital nutrients.” The kids were all screaming with laughter and joy when they were able to hold a real Red Wiggler worm in their hands. Those little guys should be call red ticklers instead!
This isn’t your mud pie kind of place but the kids are having fun and enjoying their life in the garden. Like our Common Threads cooking classes, we educate about the importance of healthy affordable meals that families can cook together. We look forward to the future fruit of the garden in the summer and fall months in our Common Threads Summer Camp program. Educating the kids on foods’ foundation is a labor of love but a real reason to cheers around our picnic table!

1 comment: