Tag Archives: gardening

The Power of Water

This year’s theme is Water, and what a fantastic, flexible, flowing theme for the summer! Water is one of the most attractive of the elements – who doesn’t want to dip their toes in a stream, splash around in a stream, put their hands under a waterfall?

Water is powerful in two ways – it is a dynamic force with unique physical and chemical properties, and it is a constant reminder of our connection to the rest of the life on our planet.

Now, “unique physical and chemical properties” sounds cool to me, but it doesn’t necessarily fall that way on a kid’s ears. The trick to get them turned on to the awesomeness of water is to bring in our animal ambassadors, and encourage the kids to imagine how our animals use, adapt to, or even defy the powers of water in their daily life. The kids know how frigid winter can be here in New York, and how dry a summer drought can be. How do our amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals survive in a constantly changing environment?

The states of matter – solid, liquid, and gas – may not seem that exciting in a textbook. But when kids can see a grey tree frog up close and learn how this tiny creature changes his whole body chemistry to prevent the water in his cells from turning to ice and bursting his cell walls – that adds wonder and awe to what the youth know about two hydrogens and one oxygen molecule.

Talking about and meeting our animals also encourages the kids to reflect on their own bodies, and how important water is to their survival. The water in our cells connects us to the grey tree frog, and to the lettuces and tomatoes growing in the gardens. In each living being on the planet, H20 is circulating. Humans are breathing it out as water vapor; trees are transporting it through xylem and phloem. The Garden of Fire program provides room for kids to appreciate the strength of water in its different physical states, and the inspiration of water as a bond between all living things.

Water unifies, strengthens, and nourishes the children in the program – not just quenching their physical thirst or plumping the peppers they will harvest later, but also provoking questions and inspiring reflection on our responsibilities to each other and to the rest of the life on our planet.

Bridget Sharry
Community Relations Manager
Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum

 

Photos courtesy of Dan Gallagher Photography

2016: Summer of Water!

Last week, Garden of Fire partners met at The Rockwell Museum to finalize many details about programming and discussed aspects of this year’s theme of WATER. 

We are all very excited to be flowing into year three of this wonderful program for youth in our area . Water is essential to the existence of life and can be a great symbol of the relationship between all living things.

More than half of the human body is composed of water and about 71% of planet earth is water. Water can move through just about anything and over time can carve canyons.

Drop by drop, little by little, in the lives of children and teens who participate in the program, we hope to help open a stream of expression through the arts and a sense of wonder through the science that can move through their entire lives.

Participants can look forward to many water-themed projects and programs. For example, as the youth centers grow their gardens, they’ll work with Tanglewood Nature Center and learn about how crucial water is for gardens to grow, and how plants adapt to different climates based on availability of water in their natural habitat.IMG_8341

At The Rockwell, students will make their own Clay Animal Garden Sculptures, created with symbolism meant to protect and grow their garden. With CareFirst, students will make their own rain sticks in conjunction with reflection on internal growth.

We are so excited to launch this summer’s program – it can’t come soon enough! Look for the full summer schedule coming soon. Until then….

 

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Gigi Alvare, Director of Education

The Rockwell Museum

A Garden Growing In Hornell

At the Hornell Area Concern for Youth, creating a garden has been a fun, educational, and nutritional piece of our summer program for the last six years.

We like to experiment with a variety of vegetables in our raised beds, and it’s been a learning experience. We have always grown tomatoes; the year that the region experienced wide-spread tomato blight, we used it as an opportunity to teach our students why and how blights can occur.

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Last year, with the start of the Garden of Fire program, our gardening projects reached new heights. Ian, from Tanglewood Nature Center, came to us early on to get us started for growing season in a whole new way. He taught the students about our particular type of soil, and how geological changes like glaciers can affect the richness and nutrient content of soil in a given region.

He taught us so many things we hadn’t considered in the past, including preserving our vegetables to eat all-year-round. We learned to can our vegetables last year, turning cucumbers into delicious pickles, and our beautiful tomatoes into spaghetti sauce. Those were treats that we have enjoyed all winter.

Now it is time to start anew for this year. We have been so busy with our spring programming, that admittedly we got behind the growing schedule. Amazingly – count our lucky stars – Paul Shephard Jr., our Special Projects Coordinator, received a call from a group looking for volunteer opportunities.

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The camp counselors, all twelve of them from Camp Stella Maris came with gardening tools in hand to help us take control of the garden again. They took on the enormous task of weeding, adding organic fertilizers, and disposing of the grass. Then, with the aid of our youth center participants, the group planted a beautiful garden.

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We are now prepared for another eventful summer of learning about the garden and how it can be a rewarding hobby. It really feels like the first days of summer when we look at the garden and it is weeded and planted. Now to keep it that way!

In a few weeks we will be building new garden beds for the Wimodaughsian Free Library in Canisteo.

Happy planting to all of the other gardeners out there!