I love the idea of gardening, but the truth is that I am not much of a gardener. I like getting in the dirt and I feel really good when I have that connection with the earth, and I’ve had small successes over the years. However, more and more I realize that this is not where my talents are. Canning? Oh, I’ve got that wrapped up. Sewing? Knitting? No problems at all. But gardening eludes me. And here at the new house, we don’t really have good gardening space. Several lovely trees surround our yard, leaving not really enough sun for most garden needs.
But it is so important to me that the kids know how to garden, where food comes from, and the joy of getting down in the dirt and later eating the subsequent foods.
Enter Grassroots Garden.
Locally we have a volunteer worked, 2.5 acre garden, that grows produce for the local food bank. In 2014 they grew 70,000 pounds of food that was donated to hungry people in the area. That’s a lot of fruits and veggies. There is a beautiful outdoor kitchen, a compost demonstration area, and lots of education and workshop activities. There is always lots for helping hands to do.
At the end of last summer, my family and some of our homeschooling friends decided to start volunteering at Grassroots. It has been one of the best decisions I have made as a homeschool parent.
- Science? Check.
- Life skills? Check.
- Social time? Check.
- Outside time? Check.
- Service and volunteer hours? Check?
- Physical activity? Check.
- Math? Check.
We have gotten to do all kinds of fun things, and several not-so-fun things. We’ve weeded, hauled and spread leaves and wood chips, planted cabbages, learned the components of making compost and mixed up 150 gallons of compost with our hands, harvested chard (so much chard!), cauliflower, celery, tomatoes… The kids work and talk with their friends. They get bored and wander off and we pull them back in.
Mostly my kids LOVE being at the garden. Sometimes it is boring. Sometimes it is cold and rainy. Regardless, they always leave the garden glowing, feeling good about the day, even when it is maybe a little hard or boring. We can take home a little bit of whatever we harvest for our own eating and we enjoy planning what we can make with it. There is a 4 pound cauliflower sitting in the fridge as I type this.
I forgot one important thing I check off. My self-care. I’m outside, helping, gardening, talking to other homeschool parents. I’m not good at gardening on my own, but with direction from the knowledgeable folks running the garden and managing the details, I’m perfectly happy. I get dirty. My hands smell like earth. I’m a better parent.
When we started this project, it seemed like a pretty good idea. I was so wrong. It was an absolutely brilliant idea.
I’m off to look up cauliflower recipes now.