Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Children's Garden

This past Saturday afternoon I found myself at Big Sur's Captain Cooper elementary school, visiting the Children's Garden. A playful horticultural lab that is a real "victory garden", this tranquil yet dynamic space below the classrooms gives students a wonderful outdoor learning experience.

This day's jubilee celebration included activities like face-painting, composting, scarecrow sculpting and spontaneously running through the sprinklers. Garden Director Lauren Gamblin, truly an enlightened soul, gave grown-up visitors guided tours. We sipped delicious homemade lemonade as we strolled through garden beds filled with everything from hollyhocks and beans to native grasses.

An organic garden this large clearly involves lots of ongoing care, and while Lauren has the vision, it is the schoolchildren who do much of the work in this living classroom, planting, identifying native plants and garden critters, enlisting the help of worms via vermi-culture, etc., as well as learning about what makes a healthy diet.

There's a green house, planting sheds and an art project area, all of it of course with the backdrop of the Big Sur ridges sloping down to the great ocean beyond. You can view a live version of what happens in the garden, in what is quite possibly the cutest slide show on the planet.

Nurturing children's curiosity is noble work, and turning the earth over with one's fingers is a joyous way to learn. Enjoying this beautiful afternoon in the garden, seeing our community in service to children in such a fundamental way, recalls to me the words of beloved scientist and writer, Rachel Carson:

"If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I would ask that her gift to each child in the world would be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength."

Thanks to Lauren and sponsoring local non-profit, the Big Sur Arts Initiative, that good fairy is clearly working her magic in the Children's Garden!

Photos by Linda Sonrisa


Lisa G. said...

Oh I love it! The garden, Lauren, the kids, this post. Thanks so much for sharing this with everyone Linda.

Jami said...

Somehow you are always connected to my current "dreamings". As I am preparing for the third grade, with a central theme on food, clothing, and shelter, I am dreaming up how I am going to integrate the third grade garden into our days. Just yesterday I went to Alice Waters' lecture on Edible school yards and finished a unit with my class on Rachel Carson.

There is something magical and beautiful when all these threads weave together. Maybe it means I am doing what I am meant to, what is in my heart ...with people who share these same connections.

Anonymous said...

Rattlesnakes in the garden ... I have seen my share, but not since my "pack" has matured. My Alpha Male once did the pointer routine, from across a safe distance, when he spotted his first rattler ever. Smart dog.

I, too, have a major phobia about these reptilian critters. I cannot imagine having the presence of mind to shoot a photo like this one. I would be increasing the distance between it and me -- rapidly.

Recently experienced a close encounter with a Cobra in Morocco, and I screamed, entertaining my friend, and the guide who had rolled down the window, after I closed it as the snake and handler approached. I paid 15 dirhans for the handler to get it away from me!!