Growing Sustainable Children: A Garden Teacher’s Guide
Gardening with children is hands-on, outdoor education at its finest. With abundant opportunities for experiential learning, the garden is, in many ways, an ideal classroom, and an increasing number of educational initiatives are recognizing the multifaceted long- and short-term benefits that come with a gardening program for children.
With its useful overviews of the history of gardening education and the evolving consciousness of children, and its detailed age-appropriate curriculum and activity listings from nursery and kindergarten through high school, this book will be an indispensable resource for anyone already teaching in a gardening program, for those planning on starting such a program, or for anyone working with children in a garden or other outdoor setting as a homeschooler, community organizer, or friend of the Earth.
Ronni Sands has been teaching gardening to children and adolescents for more than twenty-five years, and through her rich experience she has created the curriculum presented here, one that is also based on the picture of child development used in Waldorf schools. The curriculum builds on itself through the grades, adding new skills, concepts, and abilities year after year. As she writes in the Introduction:
“We are facing an environmental crisis. Crisis is good because it brings us to consciousness…. What we give time to becomes important. Having a regular time of the day when children work with and experience nature represents a path out of this crisis. To have a lasting impact, ecological principles must be woven into all aspects of education as experiences as well as concepts. Big or small, urban or rural, a space for a garden can lead children back to the natural world. If we want our children to have access to the many resources in nature, we must educate them to love and preserve these resources. This is the first step in building a heart-felt relationship to nature and growing ‘sustainable children.’”
About the Author
Ronni Sands has been a Waldorf Garden Teacher at Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm near Santa Rosa, California for more than twenty years. She has also worked as a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, a market gardener, a landscaper, and a house parent for handicapped adults on a farm. Today she teaches high school students gardening, cooking, basket weaving, herbal studies, and sustainability. Her work in environmental studies and garden teaching have inspired a long line of graduates who take this work out into the world, many of whom have become gardening teachers themselves.
Willow Summer has been gardening and farming since she first learned to plant a corn patch with her father at age four. After college she moved to the Bay Area, where she founded the nonprofit urban farming program City Slicker Farms, which grew from one empty lot garden in 2000 to seven urban farms and the Backyard Garden Building Program, supplying thousands of pounds of urban-grown organic produce each year. Willow went on to start The Berkeley Basket, an urban community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. In 2011, she coauthored The Essential Urban Farmer and received a teaching certificate from the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training with the goal of inspiring children and adults through farm and garden education.