October 21st at the Garland Community Garden: Students and parents from a home-school group attended a lesson on taxonomy, native bees, loofahs, sweet potatoes and more.
Sometimes its surprising and awe-inspiring to realize that a dream is coming true, but on Friday I felt like I had come the full circle when I looked out upon the blankets and saw children listening to Jane Stroud, a microbiologist and one of Loving Garland Green's board officers, talking to the children about native bees--perhaps one of the most unsung heroes of all our pollinators. From the inception, the vision of the founding members of Loving Garland Green has included the dream that the garden would become a living classroom for those in our community. Over the past year and a half we have been steadily moving in that direction. In 2015 we had several educational events at the garden involving students from our community. This year have as well.
Today, however, felt like a first in terms of being a more formal classroom in an informal setting. The presentation was divided into two parts: Taxonomy and its importance to the scientific community and Native bees. I presented the information on taxonomy and Jane Stroud presented information about our native bees. After the native bee class, the children walked about the garden with Jane, Charlie (another member of Loving Garland Green). They learned about loofah and how this plant can be used as food as a scrubber--in the kitchen and also at bath time. The children were particularly fascinated with the idea that that smaller loofahs were edible and went on an earnest search for the smaller, edible ones. Their treasure hunt yielded up several that they were able to take home with them. Also there was a sweet potato dig. (Unfortunately, I had not come prepared for this with a shovel but with our hands we were able to dig up a small sackful for the kiddos to carry home with them.
Speaking for myself, I had a wonderful time. The children and their parents were lovely and lively--very bright and inquisitive. We gave them each a loofah sponge, some loofah seeds so they can plant their own next spring, and some Lemon Grass tea from the garden.
Jane Stroud, Loving Garland Green board member, demonstrates how a native bee nest works.