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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What shall I learn of beans or beans of me?

I came to love my rows, my beans, though so many more than I wanted. They attached me to the earth, and so I got strength like Antæus. But why should I raise them? Only Heaven knows... What shall I learn of beans or beans of me? -Henry David Thoreau 

Today was a wonderful day in the Garden. I spent a good time weeding and fixing up the tomatoes before the kids came out, and I got some lovely views of all the little insects and arthropods that have made a home amongst the bramble of tomato vines. We have a vast array of decomposers and herbivorous feasting on fallen currant tomatoes, as well as carnivores who came to feast upon them. I captured a photo of a little assassin bug nymph hunting on a tomato.
Todays lesson was on seeds! I'm a 20 year old college student who has studied quite a bit of botany and biology and I am still convinced that seeds are magical. I mean, the fact that the whole potential of a plant, of life, exists in a tiny little round pebble looking thing is perhaps the most poetic thing has ever created. It is an excitement I have never lost, and hope these kids never do. The kids are very familiar with seeds from last term, so we brought out some seeds, and let them observe and hold a variety of seeds. A lot of them wanted to eat the more familiar ones, so I had to keep an eye on where the seeds were going. Once they knew a few of them, we played a game where they would close there eyes and identify what kind of seed was in their hand by touch, and then run to a part of the field that was associated with that seed, kind of like the game four corners. Then we let them plant one of the beans, filling a cup with dirt and soil and water, so we can see it grow over the coming weeks. 

After our main lesson we spent time exploring the garden a bit more, A lot of kids wanted their pictures taken, as well as pointing out what I should photograph, and I let a few of them try taking pictures themselves. We tried some of the little tomatoes, lettuce, and some cauliflower. A couple of the kids discovered some awesome arthropods like roly-polies and this gorgeous monarch butterfly caterpillar. 

Overall it was a pretty spectacular day, and I was fortunate to get to show these kids some pretty awesome things in our garden, as well as hear their thoughts and opinions on the garden and on a variety of funny topics they brought up. After working with these kids since last fall, I am really attached to so many of them as individuals. These kids are intelligent and each has a unique and important view of the world that they are very willing to share, they are an example to my belief that we are all philosophers, and these kids are some of the best I know. I hope that is garden continues to be a place for them to cultivate that thoughtfulness and curiosity, to keep growing the seed within themselves into something spectacular. So before I get to corny (pun intended!), I shall add a brief seed of wisdom from Michael Pollan. 

Seeds have the power to preserve species, to enhance cultural as well as genetic diversity, to counter economic monopoly and to check the advance of conformity on all its many fronts.

-Michael Pollan

Post by Noah Schlager

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