by Chloe Simms
As a York Sociology placement student at Green Thumbs Growing Kids, the biggest surprise for has been that 8 hours per week feels like almost no time at all because I am having such a good time. I split my time between two half days. I get an exciting mix of office activities like meetings and sitting behind a computer (fun for me, I promise!) combined with hands-on activities like participating in programming and helping in the gardens. Did I mention the gardens? All three schools where we run programming have beautiful gardens (one even has two!) that are well-tended by Green Thumbs team members. This year the green roof at the office has been continuing the process of converting to a food-producing roof. Tasting watermelon and other foods that have traveled just metres from the roof top on which they grew is an amazing experience I didn't envision having in the city and certainly not three storeys off the ground! Saving the seeds for next year is an experience that fosters appreciation for just what we can achieve despite or perhaps because we live in a concrete jungle.
This spirit of possibility carries through into working with students in their school gardens. I've enjoyed helping students to safely taste leaves in their garden (and learning and teaching them that Aniibishan means leaf in Anishinaabemowin). I also enjoyed helping a Kindergarten class to make wreaths with fallen leaves that were collected by the staff member running this activity with a few contributions from myself. In another activity, we helped small groups of young students explore the garden through their five senses. I asked the students what the basil plant we were looking at might hear if it has ears, and one child responded that "she would hear
us saying how beautiful she is". There are may reasons I love this quote. Certainly one of them is that it suggests that young children do not yet alienate themselves from plants with distancing words like "it" rather than pronouns like "she".
This placement is usually the highlight of my week, I look forward to the dynamic change of pace, the friendly people I work alongside, the eager students, and the opportunity to get closer to nature. This placement has helped me learn about my career goals and about the kind of work environment that works for me. I didn't go looking for Green Thumbs when I signed up for my placement class, but I am so happy I found it. I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow.