A few of the 110 Watson Tech Students at the Garland Community Garden - June 3, 2015

Today, members of Loving Garland Green hosted a tour of the Garland Community Garden for the second-grade class of Watson Technology Center—a magnet school here in Garland.

If you are feeling hopeless and not very optimistic about the future, I highly recommend an hour-long visit from 110 second-graders to brighten your outlook. After that experience, you will know that everything is OK. The world will not only survive to the future, it will thrive.  

During the garden tour, the eight LGG members on the committee for this project took up positions in various places in the garden where they answered questions from the children about the garden. All the children were all extremely well behaved, inquisitive and fearless. For example, one little boy asked Charlie Bevilacqua, a Loving Garland Green board member, where the worms were. “Under the ground,” replied Charlie, “enriching the soil for the garden.”

The little boy enthusiastically replied: “Let’s dig them up and look.” Due to time constraints and lack of tools, they did not dig for worms. However, later as the children were leaving, the little boy told Charlie: “You can expect me back in the summer.” The children were told the garden belongs to them too and not only are they welcome to return with their parents and guardians any time they want, they are also welcome to plant vegetables and pull weeds in their community garden.

As you can see, the little girl is taking advantage of the water that was brought by one of our members, Burgi Bartlett.  All bottles of water disappeared before the tour was over.  Burgi sent me an update on what she saw:  "The magic carpet was a great hit with the kids.  Some said they did not feel anything while on it. Three students did yoga while sitting on the magic carpet, and several had quite a few good destinations: Paris, Disneyland and Hawaii.  One kid spotted the Mona Lisa on the Butterfly Fairy Garden and knew what it was."

How the Tour Happened:  and the difference between “a” class of second-graders and “the” class of second-graders.

About 10 days ago Jennifer Clements, a bright, enthusiastic teacher from Watson stopped by the garden. After showing her around, Jennifer asked if her second-grade class could stop by in a week or so and tour the garden on their way to the class picnic at a park. Of course I said yes.

Then about three days before the event I sent Jennifer an email asking for the exact number of children as we wanted to give each child a handout and a rock. When she responded “110”, my heart went into its panic mode. Until that moment I was thinking the number would be 25 to 30 students. I had no mental/visual concept of what 110 children plus 20 adults would look like in the garden or even if our licensed area could hold that many. We’ve never had that many people at once down at the Garden before. As it turned out, we had plenty of room. My guess now is that we could easily accommodate 200 people down at the Garden.

The event was a huge success—not only with members of Loving Garland Green, but also the students, teachers and parents. We all had a great time. Our agenda was three-part: 1) A welcome, which included a brief introduction to the various parts of the garden, and an introduction to LGG members on this project team 2) a forty-minute tour of the garden and 3) the conclusion, led by Loving Garland Green member, Nancy Seaberg.  Nancy gave a garden mobile coloring project and 110 rocks to Ms. Clements to distribute to the other teachers and then to the students after they returned to the school from their picnic.

The Loofah Tunnel was one of the popular attractions on the tour--even if the loofah vines have barely begun to climb the wire trellis constructed by Charlie Bevilacqua.  Jane Stroud, another of our board members, printed several copies of a photo of a loofah when it is in the stage of a large green gourd. We tied the photos to the trellis for the children to see.  By mid-July the trellis should be covered in vines and large yellow blooms.  We also hope to have the walkway inside of the tunnel paved with a yellow brick road.  In addition to the photos we also hung five loofah sponges (the fibrous inside of the gourd after it has dried out).


Along with, the Loofah Tunnel, the Magic Carpet, the Butterfly Fairy Garden (constructed by one of our members, Cheryl Andres) and the Hops pots, the Medicine Wheel was another popular attraction today.  The children enjoyed walking on the stepping stones of the spokes that divide the wheel into four quadrants.  The original medicine wheels constructed by Native Americans sometimes had a diameter of 70 feet.  They were used for various purposes.  Many were used as herb gardens where the medicine men planted herbs that were used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes.




After the children had gone, Jean Shortsleeve, one of our members came up to me and said:  "What do you want me to do with the snail? "  

"Snail?" I asked.  You brought a snail?"  

"Yes," she replied.  

"Well I don't care, but don't leave it in the garden.  I'll smash it if you are too squeamish."  

"No, if you feel that way, I'll just take it home." she said.

Finally after a few more clarifications, we learned the snail is not a real one, but a work of art.  This snail is now the latest addition to our growing yard art collection in the garden.  Thank you,  Jean, for your lovely donation.


Special Thank You's

First we thank our guests--the students, teachers and parents of Watson Technology Center--for caring enough about urban gardening in our community to come to the Garland Community Garden to visit.  We look forward to working with you in the coming school year on other educational projects related to increasing the number of urban gardens growing edibles in our community!

Secondly I thank all the Loving Garland Green members whose suggestions, input and service helped to make this event the success it turned out to be. Thanks to Charlie and Cheryl who worked with me to get the garden in shape prior to the event.  Thanks to our VP, Chris Savage, for his helpful suggestions for the event. Chris, like other of our members was not able to attend the event due to work commitments.  Thanks to Nancy, Jane, Burgi, Colby, and Jean who showed up and helped to teach our guests about the garden and what it represents for our community.  [Note:  Colby, a member of Loving Garland Green and a Garland Fireman, stood guard by the beehive to make sure no children wandered off in that direction.  In addition, Colby is another of our hard-working gardeners down at the community garden.  He puts in many hours a week down there as do Charlie, Cheryl, Burgi and others.]  Also a special thanks to Nancy Seaberg who coordinated the gift of the comfort rocks for the children.

And finally, a special thank-you to Robin from Laser Printing, Inc.  3002 West Campbell Road Garland 75044  214-501-4265.  Robin donated 110 copies of the Garden Mobile coloring project that we gave to the children.  Remember, help yourself and grow your local economy by supporting local businesses.


The Garland Community Garden Is Open to the Public

As we told the children today:  This garden is open to the public.  To learn more about taking care of it, please attend one of our meetings.  We meet the first and third Monday of each month at 216 East Kingsbridge Drive - Garland Texas.

Our mission is three-fold:  First and foremost we want to increase the number of urban gardens growing edibles in our community.  We believe that by doing this we will increase the prosperity of our local economy.  Second of all, many of the plots at our garden are experiments and demonstrations to illustrate (and find out for ourselves) just exactly what edibles grow well in our community.  Finally, as part of our mission, we hope to increase our production to donate 50% of all our produce to local food pantries.

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