Harvesting is probably the biggest hit among things we do with middle school kids. And that’s probably not too surprising. Finding beans or ground cherries hiding in the foliage and popping a few in the mouth without even washing them is more fun, in the view of many 12-year-olds, than pulling weeds or cultivating soil or raking compost. Too bad so much grunt work is necessary before the fun part happens. Arguably, of course, that’s life.
Our work, however, suggests an interesting and maybe even instructive possibility for the next most popular activity: chopping vegetables. Our Garden Club kids just love to join the food prep group when we offer the opportunity. This isn’t to doubt that the novelty would wear off if they were asked to put the family’s dinner on the table. But it seems to point to a real hankering for physical and tactile experience, and maybe meaningful ones at that. And it reinforces our sense that the Vegetable Project offers something important as it seeks to create hands-on teaching and learning opportunities.
Can we transform readin’ and writin’ and ‘rithmatic into and endless sequence of physical and tactile experiences? Of course not. Would we, however, capture the hearts of a few more students who tune the whole school day out with more touching and moving about? And could we help calm some of the especially restless souls, who pose such challenges in our classrooms, by presenting responsibility for finishing a job as an opportunity? We think it’s worth a try.
And while we have your attention, please also take a look at previous postings to learn about the many ways to participate in and contribute to the Vegetable Project.