“If you want to change your world, plant a garden.”
~ Carol J. Michel
We started seeding change in 2017 with one garden and the vision of a city (our city) in which by 2030 every school has or is a (forest) garden, where wild life and humans co-exist, and the diverse edible landscapes we have created not only provide food for everyone, but they are also places for education, recreation, and social and cultural connection where people meet and co-create the world they want to live in – a world of diversity and regeneration of the people, the community, the soil and the Earth. By 2019, we were gardening with kids in 3 kindergartens and 1 secondary school, and today more than 400 kids, and 40 educators and teachers are involved.
“Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.”
~ David Suzuki
A school garden is an innovative tool for education and learning, offering a holistic experience (body, mind, soul) to children, a space where they learn through play and exploration about nature, but also about themselves, as individuals, and as a group. All their senses are involved, and social interactions are stimulated and improved.
Educational gardens are natural spaces where children learn about food and where it comes from, how plants grow and what are the basic needs for their well-being (air, water, food from the soil, sun/light), about the various regenerative cycles in nature (life is not linear but circular and continuous), about the abundant life in a living and fertile soil, about the joy of discovering insects and simply looking at flowers.
A garden in the school yard:
- means the opportunity to spend time outside the classroom, outdoors, and to experience the natural world with all the senses;
- allows children to follow and understand the process by which a seed becomes a plant;
- exemplifies the time dimension, but also the resources needed, for plants to grow;
- helps children to observe the interdependencies that exist in nature;
- allows kids to observe the great diversity of seeds and plants that can grow in a garden and how this diversity creates balance and resilience;
- teaches children about pollinators and their essential role in food production;
- facilitates discussions about farmers and their working conditions, about ethics, fair trade and social justice;
- teaches kids about the seasonality of the food and the importance of short food chains, thus encouraging the consumption of fresh local food;
- empowers children and encourages teamwork;
- teaches them to plan a project, to implement it, to take care of it and to enjoy the fruits of their work;
- can be used to support the learning process of almost any desired school subject – from mathematics to foreign languages.
We love gardening with kids. They are natural gardeners and native wonderers. We are learning so much from them. They transform every activity into something magical, like when we are making the seed balls or digging for worms for the wormery.
After 4 years of gardening, we feel we are ready to move forward. Now that the Peter Pan Forest Kids kindergarten joined our Slow Food community, we asked the permaculture designer Radu Crăciun, from the Romanian Permaculture Association, to guide us in transitioning from our predominantly annual educational gardens to edible forest gardens, one of the best-known expressions of permaculture design.
About how our edible forest gardens will evolve, we will share more in a future intervention. Till then, let’s share the healing stories of people exploring ways to live more lightly on our one and only planet; let’s keep seeding change and show our children that the magic (and the change, when it’s necessary) comes from the simple things we have the power to do every day with our own hands, no matter how small we are, as long as there is love, patience, perseverance and attention for people and nature.
“Yes, there are days that it seems like the world around us is coming to an end. It may – or it may not. But let us keep planting. Let us have hope that the accumulation of our collective planting may save this small planet, and our own souls.
So let us, friends, keep planting.”
~ Omid Safi
Food education and awareness raising, Târgu Mureş – Marosvásárhely Community Spokesperson
“The work of our Slow Food Community is a manifesto for Good, Clean and Fair food and sustainable living in the urban area, aiming to educate urban consumers (especially kids and their families as well as young people) and to help the local producers to reach the city’s inhabitants.”