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Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through Research, Education and Policy since 1984

Little Green Thumbs Project

Children’s Garden at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

How time flies!  How amazing it is to see this in a garden!  It just seems like yesterday we were making plans to start a children’s garden both at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and Leona Doubek Elementary in East Troy.  The idea did not come from just one individual, but grew from this community of teachers, children and parents.  It started like a seed planted in a rich and cared for soil ready to receive it and nurtured it to its full potential.  Now, the light outside seems to be filtered through a jar of honey, a sign that we are getting closer and closer to the end of summer.  We have harvested all the lettuce, broccoli, radishes long ago.  Then the beets and the green beans and onions, and now the children are in picking tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.  The basil is ready to be turned into pesto; cucumbers are crisp and delicious.

But time can also stand still in the garden.  The children are not in a hurry.  They don’t seem to care about our busy days and our next appointments.  Their commitment is to noticing everything, regardless of how long it takes, whether examining the leaves of a tomato plants or following a bug around.  It should be a reminder to all of us that we live our lives on the run and we sometimes lose our connection with nature.  The Little Green Thumbs Project is truly a community initiative.  Gardens help children learn and improve their behavior towards nurturing plants and each other.  The time in the garden is a time to learn real life skills and community interaction.  The kindergarten and first grade students from Leona Doubek Elementary are mentored by the students from East Troy High School.  They planted the seeds together, transplanted the seedlings, and were left to interact at will.  Teachers had to learn to step back and enjoy the learning process without having to do the lesson themselves.  That is a learning opportunity also, to let the children decide on the spur of the moment things they want to learn.

Maybe the most amazing fact about the Little Green Thumbs project is how committed the parents are to being there every Tuesday evening to care for the gardens at Leona Doubek and the countless hours the Master Gardeners from Walworth County put into keeping things weeded and looking the best even under the most ruthless sun and the unforgiving heat of July.

If you want to come and see us in the gardens, join us every Tuesday from 4.30 pm at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and from 5.30 pm until whenever we feel like going home at Leona Doubek Elementary.  Meet the children, the parents, the teachers, and the Master Gardeners while we weed, laugh, and snack on vegetables.  We promise you will have a great time!