by Joe Durand
As a long time member of Green Thumbs Growing Kids I have had the opportunity to do just about everything imaginable associated with Green Thumbs. I have learned to compost, written fundraising letters, turned compost, built raised beds, sat as a Board member, turned compost (the too green and smelly kind) spent hours at an information booth, planted tomatoes and yes, turned compost!! the sweet and earthy smelling kind, that is just right!. And of all these things, none is more important than the other!! Let me try and explain what I mean.
In our gardens, like many home gardeners, tomatoes are all stars!! Kids can plant the seeds in March in our Greenhouse program, pot up seedlings in April and transplant them into the garden in May. In summer they share them with friends and family during our summer evening drop in program. In fall they harvest during the school day, as part of programs with their class. The best part is plucking cherry-type tomatoes off of the vine and popping them straight up, into your mouth, especially when you planted the seed. That’s Star Power! But there’s more.
We teach the kids in our programs about the importance of healthy soil life and how that affects the taste and growth of tomatoes. Tomatoes are hungry and need lots of nutrition so we have to give them lots of compost, lots of sun and just the right amount of water, but a secret ingredient….. is who we give the tomatoes as friends and companions!! We have learned that tomatoes planted with certain plants and herbs taste better, have fewer pests and get fewer diseases. Do we know why? In some instances yes, in others no, but the proof is in the tasting, and we do lots of proving.
So what’s most important? Is it the seed being placed in the soil? The compost to feed the soil and the plant or the companion plant that deters pests and enhances taste?? I don’t know, do you? Does anyone?? But there’s even more to consider, what about the gardeners who teach our kids about all of this, perhaps they are the key? Passionate, well seasoned (pun intended) gardeners result in healthy plants and healthy minds excited by the mystery of plant growth. Equally important are instant taste tests in the gardens, the hand to mouth relationship between gardens and gardeners!
But beyond the garden, what about the board members, volunteers and staff who write letters and grants, and report on the importance and success of our programs, and who make sure all of the little details and the financial responsibilities that go into successful programs are present, every day. The people who make sure that programs are fun, gardens are safe and relevant for everyone? These people are as important to the health and success of our gardens too. I can’t decide if one element or person is more important than another. Like in nature, it takes many parts to make a healthy garden, healthy plant and healthy child. Take away one element and sooner than later everything starts to fail.
This is like Green Thumbs Growing Kids for sure! Every person, plant and partner is essential to our success and future, and we want to invite you to join us as a member of Green Thumbs Growing Kids this Saturday May 10 from 12 noon to 3 pm at the Allan Garden Children’s Greenhouse (near Jarvis and Carlton). Members are very important to us, not only to vote for your Board of Directors but to direct the organization over the longer term. But in the short term, this Saturday, you’ll learn how to plant tomatoes and their companions, how to compost and build healthy soil, and how we teach the kids in our programs. Take home your own tomato and herb seedlings to grow at home with enough compost to guarantee success. For a ten dollar membership fee we invite you to join us in the garden, the board room and the teaching spaces to help us grow our exciting vision. So while tomatoes need companions and gardens need gardeners, we need you to join us!