Reflecting on our Growing Connections this past school year, I want to share what is behind “gardening” here at Rivendell. First, our school community is lucky to have a garden and a greenhouse in our urban setting. It is a place full of wonderment that sparks questions, surprises, and appreciation for beauty in our environment.
It is a place of growing together. As our children go through physical and emotional changes during their school years, we can relate many of their feelings to lessons in the garden. Children need new clothes as they might get too tight as they grow. When plants grow, they need to get transplanted into bigger pots, as the roots need more space. When children move on to a bigger school, we connect that with our butterflies. We release them in the garden when it is time for them to move on.
Our garden is also a place of inclusion. Everyone can come to the greenhouse when they are ready. Transitions can be tricky for some children; the trip there may be overwhelming. I work closely with classroom teachers and SEITs so every child can be successful in Growing Connections. Groups are small, and there are few distractions in the greenhouse. It is also wheelchair accessible. As children learn about what a plant needs to grow, such as soil, water, and sun for light and warmth, they learn about caring for the plants and what that means. We talk about fairness. Every seed and plant can grow into something beautiful if we treat them with care equally. We count while we water. After the children reach number three, they move to the next plant to share the water among all the plants.
Most importantly, the garden brings our Rivendell community together. Every classroom participates in collecting food scraps and adding them to the food compost tumbler. This year, the school effort is evident as we are rewarded with beautiful and nutritious soil. Next spring, the children will use it to fill many pots, plant seeds, and produce another beautiful garden.
Growing Connections Teacher