Recently, my staff and I have been organizing a series of workshops for our Grow Organic Kids program. We have had a children's garden at Natureworks for quite a few years, but the kids don't seem to find it and use it the way I had envisioned. This year, we are going to try and actively involve kids in nature projects.
One inspiration for this focus is Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods. The subtitle is Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. His premise is that "direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults". As gardeners, we all know this deep down in our bones. But if you think about the kids of today who were raised with computers, cell phones, texting, and television from day one, you will realize that we've got a problem on our hands.
Have you ever driven to work in the morning and seen neighborhoods of kids standing, waiting for the bus, texting on their cell phones? Not looking around at the birds, or exploring what the world is like around them. Heads down, fingers flying, texting.
Yet, when you interact with kids, and show them a birds nest filled with baby birds, teach them to observe the life cycle of a butterfly, or plant seeds with them and watch their excitement when they sprout and grow, you will know that it is part of our genetic makeup to connect deeply with nature.
As a result of Richard Louv's best selling book, a movement has started called LEAVE NO CHILD INSIDE. It is spreading across the country. State governments are paying attention, as are school systems. School gardens are springing up everywhere. Young parents are planting food gardens and including their kids in the process.
I couldn't be happier to see this trend on the rise in our world. I have known this secret to happiness all along. I make it a point to go outside, even in the winter, on every nice day. I helps my mood, helps me sleep, calms me down, and gives me inspiration.