Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Global Gardens

Last Spring I was invited to be a board member of a really interesting non profit called Global Gardens. If you are not familiar GG its an after school gardening program for kids, started by Heather Oakley. This story begins with 5th graders at Eugine Elementary school. I knew of GG from friends and acquaintances but the late summer of 08 had a close up and personal opportunity to meet the young gardeners when they came out to my farm for a year end retreat and camp out.

I'll be honest, I haven't spent much time around youngsters much at all, except my nieces and nephews. I suppose I expected chaos. 10 crazy fifth graders chasing chickens and making the goats a nervous wreck. I have had kids come to the farm and do this...their parents happily thinking this was funny and such a great "farm" experience for their - normally glued to the gameboy/TV/computer kid. After being ignored by the parents and the kids I just try to make their visit brief. It's good that zoos have bars to protect the Animals inside. Honestly. It takes days for the farm to recover after children disrupt the harmony by chasing the animals.

So what am in for, I thought?

I picked the group up at the camp ground at the end of the road and brought them up to the farm. The moment we pulled into to the farm they jumped out of the back of the hay lined truck bed all 10 of them. Each 5th grader pointed in a different direction. 360 degrees of opportunity in front of them. They seemed paralyzed for a moment on where to dart to first. Would it be the garden? would it be the barn chasing after a cat? would it be the goats in the front pasture? would it be all the potential trees to climb? But the universe made its decision and up runs my two over sized, over furred bumbling great Pyrenees/Anatolian dogs who by all accounts were meant to be guard animals for my sheep and goats but have changed their official positions to join the greeting committee, which they are now chair and co chair and thriving.

After a few moments of this dog love, a calmness took its place as we gathered in a circle and I set the ground rules. #1 NO chasing animals. Any animals; dogs, cats, chickens, llama, sheep, goats. I talked about harmony and how a farm can be a very harmonious place and that we could become part of that great experience. I talked about how much trust there must be on a farm and all of these animals were going to trust us and we had to do everything we could to honor that trust. The kids looked at me I looked at each of they're faces looking for disobedience and chaos and found peace and harmony and understanding.
Yea, I had a lot to learn.

The experience I had with these kids changed me. Completely influence me, that night we had a cook out and with a guitar accompaniment the kids sang the most beautiful and touching song I have ever heard, written by them.
These kids have a lot of lerning and growning ahead of them and along the way they also have a lot to teach people like me.

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