Written by Ali Moxley, Garden Lead at Mountain Pathways
Water. For me, Lettuce Learn really became impactful through the lens of water. The first month and a half of my partnership with Mountain Pathways I assisted with a number of very interesting and useful tasks with the teachers I was paired with (Emily and Kristy). We partnered with Appalachian Mountain Brewery and with the help of some very persuasive and cute 9-12 year olds, raised over $1000 for the program. However, it wasn’t until Kristy and Emily took their kids on a week-long trip to New York that I began to grasp the powerful movement school gardens help create. Before the class left, the teachers showed me the various ways to water the multitude of plants we had started growing. I was initially shocked by the amount of water each plant needed. This led to two trains of two thoughts, the first being that plants are a fairly similar to humans.
There are several basic examples of this such as how plants need food and care just like people. I also began to understand that just as each plant has various water needs and would turn into very different living things, Courtney Baines had created a program that allowed each school to do the same thing. She provided us with the tools needed to empower and help students learn in an innovative and captivating way, but had also allowed each school to develop its own program. If you were to come visit the Mountain Pathways garden (which I highly recommend if you ever get the chance) you would hear a much different creation story than if you visited the Lettuce Learn garden at the Child Development Center.
Here at Mountain Pathways I see a group of mature children who are taking it completely on themselves to grow and learn alongside the plants they are nurturing. I like to joke with my roommate and say “I’m headed out to my garden for a while.” But to be honest that couldn’t be further from the truth. This garden entirely belongs to the children that run it and they have welcomed this responsibility with open arms.
The other lesson I learned through watering was the bounty of information that I didn’t know and that I didn’t even know I didn’t know. As Kristy walked me through the process there were so many little lessons for me to absorb. As the week went on and I spent more time in the garden, I had more and more questions pop up in my head. Everything from why the leaves of certain plants were getting eaten, to if it was okay that a large number of aunts had taken up a home in one of the beds. This showed me how perfect of an environment a garden was for an outdoor classroom. It does take some flexibility in making lesson plans being in an area that is continually surrounded by a forever changing system, but the garden creates a safe space where kids are excited and unafraid to explore the world around them and continually ask questions.
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture Office
P.O. Box 67 | 969 W King Street
Boone, NC 28607