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