Gardening, after hunting, gathering and one more well known activity, is one of the world’s oldest professions. It is practiced by novices and professionals alike.
Gardens come in all sizes from the pot of herbs on the back steps to the farm environment, although as the site gets bigger, gardening morphs into farming.
Gardens and the time spent in them produce many benefits, perhaps the least discussed is learning. A garden can be sued to teach the basic skills of literacy and numeric and once those have been mastered the door is wide open.
Let’s consider math; to get something growing in a garden, it is necessary to plant either seeds or plants; in order to do that, it is essential to know what their requirements are. This information is either written on a seed pack or other printed source.
The seed pack lists the depth at which the seed must be planted, how far apart the seeds must be placed and to get it right, it is wise to measure these distances. It is also necessary need to know the size of the garden and how much space each plant requires so you can calculate the number of plants you can place in each plot. There is more than math and language literacy skills one can develop by gardening, there are the personal or lifestyle skills that will help you make your way through the world. Patience is a lesson gardeners must learn early. Plants to not grow instantly, no matter how much you will them to grow, time will pass before they do.
The successful gardener will understand the role that pollination plays in the growth process and come to know the many pollinators who help the garden grow; without them, no flowers, vegetables, or fruit will appear. An appreciation for spiders and earthworms as well as bees, evolves.Formal school is important; however, it is wrong to dismiss the value that the practical experience of growing things gives. School gardens are a must, but, parents, if at all possible must involve their children in the gardening chores. The time spent will pay huge dividends as the years pass.
I wrote the following in a earlier article:
“Unfortunately, formal schooling seems to remove the wonder from the process and reduce it to rote, repetition, right and wrong. Learning demands experimentation and experiments are attempts to discover something.”
Time in the garden will renew that wonder.