Naturalist Intelligence

There is a good bit of interest in various components of the farm on the part of many of the students. For some, I think their naturalist intelligence awakens as they observe, investigate and experiment in the many different ways the farm can provide. Bugs, bees and butterflies fascinate the students.  They love to smell the different herbs and they take such pride in growing and harvesting the vegetables they have planted.

A few years ago, one of the 4th grade students I worked with at the farm spent the summer turning his backyard into a botanical and horticultural garden center.

 He planted his own vegetables and became particularly fascinated with the caterpillars as they matured in to butterflies. He eagerly volunteered the following year as a 5th grader to demonstrate to the 4th graders how to look for and identify the caterpillars in the garden. Amazing—a 5th grader teaching his younger peers.

The best part is that he turned his tree house into a string of melons of all sizes and shapes growing out of bags of compost dangling from above like hanging lanterns.

Pictured below is John who returned to the farm this summer.  John now a 6th grader at New City School and helps across the street at the Central Reform’s Congregation Gateway Greening Garden with his mom.



The farm provides for many students the opportunity to make a difference through their use of the Naturalist Intelligence.


Citizens Making a Difference

During the school year I have the privilege of working with 4th graders from New City School.  Their theme for the year is Citizens Making a Difference.

 Part of how they make such a big difference here in the neighborhood is their work at the farm.  They learn about the farm’s gift garden and they think it is cool that the farm gifts all that it grows to two local food panties.

Students love the farm.  They run down the alley that connects New City School to the farm, arriving like just released butterflies. They are great helpers. They help pick the seeds to plant, prepare the soil for planting and harvest the produce. 

A favorite harvest item is pop corn.  One class of 4th. graders will plant the kernels in April and go off to 5th. grade.  In September, a new 4th grade class cuts down the stalks, harvests the cobs, and begins curing the kernels. Later that fall, the same 4th graders get to walk to the pantry to pop the pop corn for the clients at the food pantry. 

It is quite a party!

Pop corn party at the food pantry with New City School Students!

Pop corn party at the food pantry with New City School Students!

A Simple Meal

It is Saturday morning. I am watering away at the farm.  The air is hot and getting warmer by the minute.  The vegetables and flowers are so parched but wait patiently for their long and soaking drinks of water that will help hydrate them for the day.

I look up from my work to see a man approaching me. He is a neighbor of ours, Ulysses, and he appears to be completely drenched, half clothed and seems almost near exhaustion.

I ask him to please sit down, take a seat on the bench and talk to me as I water.  I ask, “Can I get you a drink, more water?”  “Please,” Ulysses says. “Hey man I have not eaten since yesterday.  Do you think you could help me out with a meal?”

He continued by saying, “You know my momma burned up in a recent fire here in town”  “I have no one to fix me dinner no more.” “I have been homeless since the fire.” “What I really need is a meal fixed with all these collards, onions and tomatoes.”

I was quick to respond,“Sorry Ulysses, but all these vegetables go to food pantries in town.” I then noticed that it was Thursday, the day one of our local pantries is open. So I continued by saying, “Hey, the food pantry is open this morning!  How about I help show you how to get there and you can head over for a warm meal and your own bag of greens.”

With joy and gratitude in his eyes Ulysses responded, “Really man, you’d do that?”

And I did just that.

The days harvest is put out for food panty patrons to take with them. 

The days harvest is put out for food panty patrons to take with them. 

The produce is also cooked into hot meals. 

The produce is also cooked into hot meals. 

The Gift Garden is such a blessing to those in need. The clients we serve are so grateful and appreciative. One member told me recently, “Hey Doc thanks for the green beans and collards.  Now I have can have a real Sunday supper.”  

These frequent humbling moments help me recognize all that we take for granted. I am fortunate to be the vessel of God helping to build the kingdom by growing fruit and vegetables for the most needy in our community.

Thank you Jesus.