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Teaching the next generation about the magic of gardening

#7: Meet Peg, Youth Educator at Fairview Elementary Community Garden

“I believe that every moment is a teaching moment. Getting the kids to see the world in a different way is a fascinating thing. Every time you get just one kid that asks you an extra question, it is an amazing feeling. I believe that when you show a child something, and you see the lightbulb go off, your job is done. I know then that I have exposed them to something new and that they will pass that knowledge along and build on it. I like their curiosity and enthusiasm, but I like their wariness, too. Often, when I show them a vegetable plant, that may have been the first time they have ever seen it before.

Once, I brought some purple potatoes from my home garden to show my class, and one boy looked at one, turned it around and around in his hands, and asked me, “How did you do that? How did you make the inside purple?” When I told him that it grew like that, he looked at me like I was crazy. He inspected the potato to see if I had injected the color into it. He was very wary of a purple potato.

I have the kids sit in the garden and just listen to it. A garden is so noisy when people aren’t talking. You’ve got your birds, crickets, and bees. It’s really quite loud if you take the time to listen. You have to tailor your teaching to fit what each child’s strengths are, to what they can each personally get out of gardening. You see their potential and encourage them to be their best selves. I hate when kids have a question about how the world works, and both of you know that their answer is how the world really should be, but that isn’t the reality. When this happens, I prefer to tell them, “Yes, you’re right. That is how the world should be. Now let’s go make it happen!”

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