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Remembering What Gardens Teach

“Environmentalism is not a specialty or a discipline like medicine or teaching or law. It’s a way of seeing the world and recognizing that we are a part of the biosphere, dependent on nature–air, water, soil, photo-synthesis, biodiversity–for our health and well-being, and we need everyone to see the world through that lens.”

David Suzuki, Letters to my Grandchildren, 2015

On Saturday, May 13th, dozens of children, parents and grandparents joined Green Thumbs and award-winning author, Jon-Erik Lappano, to hear how the world changes when young Tokyo digs a garden. Huge trees towering over apartments, their strong roots breaking the pavement? Bears climbing telephone poles to search for honey where bees had made their hives? Dad taking the office stairs because a sloth is riding the elevator?

“We will just have to get used to it,” says Tokyo. And his grandfather, who remembers how things used to be, agrees.

While school gardens in the Green Thumbs Imagine a Garden in Every School network may not be growing into nearby expressways or up tall buildings, they are getting children used to thinking of themselves as part of the natural world, and dependent on its many gifts. Children are learning about the life cycles of plants from seed to compost, the creatures that help keep soil healthy, and the many ways that humans benefit from the environment.

Thanks to the Ontario 150 Community Celebrations Program, the network is expanding its annual School Garden Day Celebration this year into a full week of activities designed to strengthen community support for school gardens and all that they teach. Schools registering with the network are receiving packages of Mark’s Choice seeds to plant, access to materials to create displays, and opportunities for social media promotion. Some, such as Rose Avenue PS–a Green Thumbs partner school–are discovering that the history of a garden at their school goes back even farther than anything the childrens’ grandparents might remember.

At Allan Gardens on Saturday, Green Thumbs guests got a taste of possibilities for the week to come, with opportunities for both creative play and grab-a-tool-and-get-to-work practicality. It’s spring, after all, and time for planting, from seeds to seedlings, small thoughts to big ideas.

Deep thanks to Jon-Erik Lappano for generously sharing his Saturday afternoon with us, and to our urban agriculture collaborators–Building Roots, Carrot City, Friends of Allan Gardens, Toronto Urban Growers (TUG), and TreeMobile. Special thanks to event sponsor, ERA Architects; hospitality sponsors Alli’s Fresh Baked, Black River Juice, Kurtis Coffee, and Sapsucker; and giveaway sponsors LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, Premier Tech Home & Garden, and Whole Foods Market.

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