The garden is our ultimate teacher

Members of Red Rock High School Garden Club transplant winter green seedlings at Garlands Lodge greenhouse. (Photo with permission/release)

Members of Red Rock High School Garden Club transplant winter green seedlings at Garlands Lodge greenhouse. (Photo with permission/release)

Gardens for Humanity's founder Adele Seronde stated, "We believe that the natural world - the marvelous interwoven communities of plants, animals and other creatures formed through the agencies of Fire, Water, Air and Earth - is truly our first Teacher, our first Classroom and Curriculum. We believe that academic, social and moral lessons appropriate to every age may be drawn from observing, experiencing, and working with the Earth and the natural world."

Our experience working in gardens with people of all ages - from preschoolers to elders - has confirmed that a garden is a place where one feels free and caring, where one's work is patiently rewarded, where one's senses come alive, and where one feels a kinship with the earth and her creatures. It is a place where happy memories are created and revisited.

Whether our garden is in a pot or in the landscape, it gives us the opportunity to practice the skills that enable us to create and participate in a sustainable, healthy, happy and beautiful life. The healthy garden is a closed loop of giving and taking. As we feed our garden, it improves with use - even as it gives so generously.

No matter what their age, gardeners are fun to be with. It is especially fun to watch teens in the garden shed their cares and become at once childlike and serious. It is a place where we can be both a scientist and an artist and also experience the thrill of the unexpected.

Gardeners love talking and sharing garden lore. There is always enthusiasm and stories about the challenges and joys of working with nature. Working with nature is humbling and it enables one to be open to learning. Every season is a renewal and gardens are always changing.

The "classroom and curriculum" of the garden that Adele Seronde refers to conveys "academic, social and moral lessons appropriate to every age" and has several key lessons:

• Planting seeds engenders optimism and a sense of purpose.

• Caring and nurturing the garden instills the sense of responsibility to all forms of life.

• Working with the elements develops awareness of cooperation and right measure.

• Planning and planting a variety of plants kindles appreciation of diversity.

• Observation and working in the garden awakens scientific and artistic senses.

• Feeling of empowerment grows as one produces healthy plants.

• The sense of gratitude blooms by enjoying the garden and using what it produces.

• Creating a healthy environment and providing habitat that attracts other forms of life, making choices to create success and beauty in the garden, and appreciating the gifts of nature are the basis of spiritual and religious celebrations that have enriched human culture throughout ages. These define the goals of sustainability and healing that are so important for our relationship with nature.

Gardens for Humanity develops and supports gardens in our local schools. This would not be possible without the donations we receive from people in our community.

Help us bring garden and environmental education to our local students by visiting our website and donating to school gardens at www.gardensforhumanity.org.

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