About 180 2nd graders from two schools, Westview and Echo Park visited the gardens at Valley Natural Foods on beautiful sunny days in June to receive MFC lessons on urban farming. This was the culmination of lessons for these children that encompassed the full cycle of the growing season. Last year many of these children visited the garden to participate in the fall harvest and some will come back to the gardens next fall.
Gary Johnson, Head Gardener at Valley Natural was assisted by member volunteers. Helga and Deb lead the planting activities enabling each child to plant their own seeds in the herb garden while learning what seeds need to germinate and grow. Kids then moved on to the tasting station where they selected, hand picked and made a cream cheese spread seasoned with freshly harvested herbs spread on a cracker. Barb and Emily, MFC volunteers also offered a special treat made by the honeybees. Many kids had never tasted honey in the comb before.
Over on the other side of the gardens MFC educators Kristi and Ginger helped kids learn about the important role beneficial insects play in the garden. Pollinators, insectivores such as butterflies, bees, ladybugs and praying mantises were some of the important garden helpers highlighted in this lesson. Each child tried their hand at netting insects in the flower gardens for observation and release. I think most kids caught at least one bug and in the process many overcame their fear of bees, learning how usually most bees are nonaggressive, especially the Mason Bee which is our native bee here in North America and does not have a stinger.
By the end of the school day the kids climbed back on the bus just a little tired and hopefully inspired to try their hand at gardening at home this summer.
And by the way Gary says the kids are always welcome, as you are, to visit the Valley Natural Gardens to see how the plants are doing. To learn more about Valley Natural Foods, visit their website here