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Growing to Green award garden: Mt. Sterling (2)

  • Subject: [cg] Growing to Green award garden: Mt. Sterling (2)
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 19:32:08 -0800 (PST)

Columbus Dispatch, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Sunday, January 29, 2006
(forwarded by Bill Dawson)

by Robin Chenoweth

City children discover wonders of place that supplies
their food 

When Tom and Mary Lou Shaw offered their Mount
Sterling farm and its vegetable garden as a field-trip
destination for disadvantaged children, they didnt
expect the first visit to begin so dismally. 

The couple watched kids and chaperons step off the bus
from Columbus, all dolled up in Sunday clothes. 

They were late, tired, hot; they forgot their
lunches," Mrs. Shaw recalled. The adults were
hostile about it. They said they were going back
before lunch." 

Then the kids  inner-city dwellers all  spied the
Shaws miniature donkeys. 

A small commotion arose as they petted and
photographed the animals. Mrs. Shaws whitehaired
mother welcomed adults to cool off on her porch. 

Pizzas were served. 

All barriers were down," she said. 

Three summers ago, children from Head Start schools
and the King Arts Center began visiting the 50-acre
farm as part of the Greater Columbus Foodshed Project
of Simply Living, which seeks to educate children
about nutrition and gardening. A quarter-acre plot on
the farm was planted for children to explore and pick.

Vegetables that children cant identify sprout from
the ground. Dirt is everywhere; strange smells mix in
the air; and heirloom Dorking chickens race about the

The little ones say, Is this real grass? . . . and
then run through it," Mr. Shaw said. 

Children are given cloth sacks for collecting berries,
broccoli, brussels sprouts, bush beans, cabbage,
chard, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, squash and tomatoes
 all to take home. 
Most are just blown away. They go into the garden
almost like (theyre going after) Easter eggs.
 They cant believe it," Mr. Shaw said. They even
pick green tomatoes because they get a little

Older kids rake soil or dig root vegetables with

Most have no idea where a potato even comes from,"
he said. So we go in the garden, and they see a
tomato or dig up some potatoes. Thats the kind of
thing we can share." 

Providing food for children to pick does more than
just give them a handout, said Noreen Warnock,
coordinator of the Foodshed Project. 

Food is something that connects us to our humanity,"
Warnock said. It represents community. . . . This is
not just a field-trip destination. (The Shaws) are
actually forging relationships with people in the

Mrs. Shaw envisions the children dumping their bags of
green tomatoes, potatoes and peppers onto a kitchen
table at home. She hopes they talk to their parents
about what they saw. 
If not parents, then grandparents. They remember,
especially the ones from the South. They say, We used
to plant collards. " 

Then maybe, she said, the children will conceive of
planting a garden of their own. 

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

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