Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Celebrate Spring By Digging in Dirt

 San Diego author Richard Louv said it best,
“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”
Now more than ever kids need to dig in dirt and spring is a great time to get out and start a garden.  Digging in dirt is relaxing and calming. It also stimulates our senses - smell, touch, taste. When I think of being out in the garden, I think of the smell of wet dirt after a good rainstorm, the prickliness of an artichoke plant, and the sweet taste of cherry tomatoes warmed by the sun and eaten right off the vine. Gardening allows our kids to see the cycle of life, to understand where our food comes from (it's not grown in the grocery store as I recently heard a first grader say to her friend), and to reconnect with the natural world.

Digging for potatoes at Petaluma Urban Homestead
Of course there are other ways than gardening to connect with the natural world.  The other day I picked up my son from school and found him digging with some friends in a corner of the school's garden. He proudly explained to me that they were "building" a clubhouse - it had seats for four friends arranged in a circle and a kitchen area complete with garbage disposal. "Young architects," I thought to myself.

Live in an urban environment without a gardening space? A potted garden allows kids to dig and connect as well. Or get together parents and teachers at your local school and start a community garden. There are grants available for starting a garden including one from the Whole Kids Foundation. Weekend trips to nature trails in National, State and County parks also allow for exploration.

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