We’ve covered quite a few of Farmer Jones’ “Kids in the Garden” classes but this past Saturday we think the class was very special.
Usually these classes are held outdoors in the Children’s Garden at the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens. This class was held indoors at the Garden House in the center of the Botanical Gardens. Chilly temperatures with a slight chance of precipitation determined this change in the monthly held class.
Previous classes involved worms, compost, ponds, cotton weaving, plant parts, and water conservation. This class was a big hit a couple years ago. Farmer Jones was happy to bring it back because it emphasizes creativity and the children improvise such cool critters!
Photos by Philippe Carre www.bountyphotographie.com
We found the class in progress in the main room of the Garden House. Farmer Jones (aka Nancy B. Jones) was standing in front of a table covered with fresh fruits and vegetables. The other tables in front of her were filled with children and their adult chaperons. Thirteen of the children in the room were recently adopted and / or in the process of being adopted. They were all cheerful happy looking kids. It was heartwarming.
And, it was time for making the Veggie Critters. Veggie Critters are animals made using vegetables and fruits. The kids even get to eat some of them and learn about nutrition. Farmer Jones called up the kids by using the first letter of their name and going backwards through the alphabet. The first young lady commented that this was unusual in that she usually gets called last because her name starts with the letter V. But, one at a time they came up and selected the fruit and apples they wanted to work with.
The Critters they created, well, I’m not going to try to describe because I don’t want to take anything away from their exquisite art. Our staff photographer, the Butterfy, (aka Philippe Carre of Bounty Photographie) captured their imagination and creativity better that my words ever could. Just remember when you look at the Butterfly’s photos that these Critters were made by kids whose ages ranged from 4 to 15. Nes, the 15 year old, gave me the title for my story when she told me, “They tell us not to play with our food… now look at what we’re doing!”
Tanya Valdez was leading the group of kids from San Diego Youth Services. SDYS is a 45 year old nationally recognized non-profit organization that has helped to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of homeless, runaway, abused and at-risk youth and their families. They believe that every youth and their family should be connected to resources that will best meet their needs.
Kids in the Garden classes are held from 10 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday of each month at Alta Vista Botanical Gardens. Class fee is $5 per child for two hours and the fees support the development of the Alta Vista Children’s Garden. Accompanying adults pay $3 for the Garden entry fee. The registration for the class includes a visit to the Children’s Garden that includes the Enchanted Garden Tube Tunnels, Fall Fun Festival scarecrows on display, the fantastic Children’s Music Garden, the Turtle and Dino Dig, and the Incredible Edibles Garden. Preregister by email at email@example.com or call (760) 822-6824.
The Alta Vista Botanical Gardens is now in the ninth year of getting kids outdoors to discover their environment, enjoy nature, dig into gardening, learn about natural resources, and to share art and music. This class and programs for children provided at AVBG have received a national award from the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.