On Monday, I had the pleasure of going to a local organic farm and planting a garden with a group of 7th graders. We planted potatoes, corn, squash, beans and some trees to protect the shoreline of the river. We ate organic popcorn, saw a NASA weather station and learned organic techniques for pest control and weed control. We also took home armloads of lilacs which are my favorite!
One of the coolest things we did was plant "three sisters" plantings. You take corn, beans and squash and plant them all in the same hole. This traditional Cherokee planting method allows the corn to grow high, the beans to use the corn as a climbing wall and the squash provides ground cover. I plan to use this method when I plant a garden with my parents this weekend.
Gardening is such a wonderful way to get in touch with nature. My hands were dirty, the sun was hot and all of my muscles were getting worked. The kids had a great time, although I think for some of them, it was their first time doing any physical labor.
Being at the organic farm made me think about all the ways we use and abuse our environment. We spray our lawns with chemicals, we eat pretty food that is shiny and colorful because of the pesticides that have been pumped into them, we worry about how big our car is or how to keep our homes at a temperature at odds with the world outside. Organic is uncomfortable at times. Taking care of the Earth for future generations is not easy or simple. But it is worth it.