Green Gardeners: Miracle Makers at Mission of Mary
By: Julia Hall – Summer Intern 2017
A group of eleven elementary school students hiked a half mile through Twin Towers with squirt bottles or holding hands. Their route over this past summer took them through MMC’s Xenia plot and pollinator garden. Usually, they would pause for a bathroom break at East End Community Center, and, finally, these adventurers would end their journey at 619 Silver Lane: Mission of Mary Farm Headquarters.
Ranging from kindergarten to third grade, the Gardening Spark students visited the farm twice a week for the months of June and July to learn about gardening, native plants, healthy eating, cooking, and creatures. This summer is the fourth summer that budding green gardeners from the Ruskin Elementary’s Miracle Makers program have brought a spirited, youthful presence to the farm.
While many activities functioned with some structure, a great deal of time was dedicated to free play. Exploring the farm, the outdoor space, the gardening plots, and the kitchen, these youthful gardeners learned with their eyes and hands. Self-provoked questions and comments guided further discussions and instigated special moments of wonder & discovery.
Every Monday and Wednesday, these inquisitive youngsters visited the farm. The kiddos have visited our Lincoln Hill, Xenia, and Nassau plots for various activities depending upon that week at the farm.
The Garden Spark actively used the newly renovated kitchen & community space at 619. They helped slice, sizzle, and cook supplements to their sack lunches with vegetables from MMC farm or their own garden plot near school. On one particular Wednesday, the kiddos picked carrots at the Xenia plot on their journey, which were later featured in their yummy homemade coleslaw.
On another hot July day, bubbles floated towards the clouds from wands clasped in the hands of eleven kids from Ruskin’s Miracle Makers Program at the Lincoln Hill property. In the other hand, these curious kiddos clutched Queen Anne’s Lace, clovers, & cucumber slices.
Amongst the magic, Miss Libby led eleven students and I through the prairie grasses on the hillside of the property. She discussed how these plants seed and scatter. Amongst the tomato jungles of the Lincoln Hill greenhouses, Miss Libby & Miss Tonne explained how tomatoes and peppers slowly turn from green to red, yellow, or purple when they ripen. On that particular day, George carefully touched a tomato with a healing cut on its side, asking about the the spot. The wisdom of George & the other ten kids always functioned as a source of inspiration.
Multiple post-lunch afternoons were spent hiking amongst the green space- with a dense & mature tree population- at the Nassau plot. The nature trail looped the property, & Daisy enjoyed picking up several branches along the way, measuring them, and deciding on the perfect walking stick.
In addition to the cooking and eating of lunch and the hiking of the trail, many moments were spent spoiling the chickens with veggie & grain treats. Often, the kids threw mulberries hanging from a branch just a few yards away from the coop. On Wednesdays, little hands coddled eggs, laying them gently in a bowl for CSA later on those days. The chickens captivated and enthralled this bunch!
While this Monday marked the last day that this Gardening Spark will visit the farm, Mission of Mary’s staff will remember the magic and messes with fondness. We learned much from our fellow gardeners and will continue to keep the gate open, encouraging youngsters to explore & learn about the world that we all call home.