I’m gardening with the Earth Heroes from Carver Community School‘s Boys and Girls Club this season. When I first saw how little these mostly second graders are, I thought there’s no way they can farm the 20 raised beds at the Des Moines Botanical Center.
But Jose sums it up–“Miss Martha, when I’m special, I work really hard.” And the Earth Heroes ARE special. Really special.
The second day in the garden, Water Works dumps a big load of compost for us. I look at the kids and I look at the compost, and I think “No Way!” Well, that pile of compost disappears one shovel full. One trowel full. One wheelbarrow full at a time. Not only do they haul it to the beds, they clear weeds and debris from last year’s garden and rake the beds smooth. They plant seeds indoors and outdoors–peas, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, okra, onions, leeks, lettuce, broccoli, spinach and radishes.
This is the fourth year for the gardeners. So, they have mature beds of asparagus (YUM!) and strawberries. Heres’ what the kids are learning in the garden.
- It’s fun to get your hands dirty.
- Asparagus tastes good.
- How a worm feels.
Then I read this article about gardening in Detroit, Michigan, and how it’s changing the city. The Earth Heroes’ garden at the Botanical Center is changing the relationship between the neighborhood and the Botanical Center. It’s connecting the school and the community. There’s no vandalism any more. People come down to get a share the produce.
This year, the kids will open a food stand between 4 & 6 pm on Thursday afternoons. So, stop by some Thursday afternoon, and watch a handful of kids changing Des Moines.