It was a beautiful evening in east London when a group of youth met us in the Church of the Ascension Garden. For many it was their first time, for some it was their second visit. They were there for a fun evening in the garden and an update on how the seeds they planted in May were growing.
The youth listened attentively to resident LCRC gardening guru Chris as he bestowed his wealth of knowledge. He asked many engaging questions, feeling out what they already know. It wasn’t just the kids who went home with a little more gardening knowledge, but the staff and volunteers as well. He dug into the potato patch to show youth the spuds growing beneath the dirt’s surface. I think the question that had participants most puzzled was the term for moving a plant from one place to another. There were lots of answers beginning with replantation, but everyone groaned when Chris said transplant! We learned how a carrot, once harvested can’t be replanted because the fibres just won’t work as they did pre-harvest and how any onion can be planted and through the process of budding, new onions be produced. Information the youth found especially interesting was when Chris explained when animals consume and expel vegetable seeds, their feces act as fertilizer which allow for the seed to grow. This fact provoked the loudest reaction from participants, in the form of “ewwww” and “really??” It was funny to see the gears turning as the youth figured out what and why manure is used in garden beds. Some declared to never eat a vegetable again, but it was important for them to learn how food is grown, and ultimately the food cycle.
As the hour started to wind down, I heard one young lady say “thank you for an incredible evening”. Thank you for coming out to the garden, giving us your attention and allowing us to do what we enjoy doing. You are an engaging group of kids and we love nothing more than to see your growing interest in gardening. I wish I had the opportunity at a young age to be introduced to how and where food is grown. It’s only now in my late 20s that I am discovering how gardens work. We will probably have this same group come out to the garden again in the fall when pumpkins will be ready for harvest and make a pumpkin carving event out of it.