For the past two years our Elementary Class has been in charge of the Garden-to-Table project at Compass Star Montessori. All of the students have enjoyed the project, and the entire school (including the Early Childhood and Toddler Classes) has reaped the benefits. Here are some tips for engaging a child or group of children in a gardening work:
First, give the child ownership of the garden. From a plot to a raised bed or even a few containers, make it the child’s space. Give them the choice of what to plant and full responsibility for the care and maintenance.
Second, involve the child in the process. Our class has built two raised beds, and the students have participated in every step! They have drilled pilot holes, filled the beds with soil, picked out and planted fruits and veggies, and enjoyed the harvest. Children thrive on purposeful work and are so thrilled to show their friends and family what they have accomplished.
Third, give them time to enjoy their garden. In our fast-paced society we often forget how much children love simply being in an outdoor space. The students treasure their time looking for new flowers on the tomato plants, smelling the mint and lemon balm, and watering each and every plant with the watering can.