Winter is the time of year when most gardeners have “time off.” During this “off time” a gardener’s thoughts are often on seed catalogues, dreaming, prepping the seed starting area, and, basically, gardening. Winter at the Edible Schoolyard finds me doing quite a bit of pruning, planting/transplanting, remodeling outdoor exhibits, drinking lots of warm beverages, and, dreaming.
So far this winter, we have added several new types of plants (hooray for nut trees!) in new areas of the garden. Last week there was a small Juneberry bush sitting on the table in a plastic nursery pot. I was in the chicken yard with a group of children, feeding the chickens and talking about life. All of a sudden, I heard a sound behind me, and turned to see a little girl, waiting patiently for my attention. She delivered a heartfelt message about wanting to adopt a plant, any plant, oh please…can’t you spare just one little plant for me (and my class) to take home? I smiled and told her that I would love to send everyone home with a plant, but that was the only one and it already had its home waiting on it, etc… She smiled, looked very disappointed, and walked off.
Five minutes later I heard a familiar “uhh hum” sound behind me. The same girl was back with a newly formulated argument for why she would be the perfect adopted parent for the Juneberry. I was thoroughly impressed with her determination and had a hard time not laughing because the situation was so cute. This same scene replayed 3 or 4 more times before her class left the museum.
Edible Schoolyard staff has tossed around the idea of hosting a spring plant sale to raise money for our program. We also want to take advantage of the enthusiasm that guests often have when they visit the garden for planting a garden of their own. Having plants for sale could help to maintain and extend that enthusiasm beyond this specific time and place, and help to develop patience, curiosity, and observational skills. What might we need to make this possible?
On my personal ESY vision board is a greenhouse. Greenhouses come in countless shapes and sizes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. A simple, unheated structure could be set up for the primary purpose of growing plant starts for the ESY and for the community. A larger greenhouse (attached to the Museum itself) could be used to over-winter tender tropical plants (citrus, avocado, chocolate, banana, etc…), provide for a larger production space, and serve as a year-round teaching structure. However, my dream doesn’t end with increased production capacity.
My hope is that we will have a junior garden volunteer program in which part of their responsibilities would be to help with all aspects of plant selection, raising, and distribution. This dream is filed away in my multi-year slot, but there is no reason that we can’t start towards that goal now.
So, that’s one item on my dream board. Hopefully, I will have enough time and space this spring to produce enough extra plants so that this time next year when I hear that familiar voice behind me, there will be a plant for her to adopt.