My name is Ann Jones Levine. This will be my third season working as the children’s education director at Amber Waves Farm.
For fun I like to read about the energy in the universe that causes plants and humans to evolve and grow. Pandemics can make you go down book rabbit holes. I am obsessed with the unseen world and am always looking for synchronicity in nature and life. Whether it be a spiral in nature, an energy force from a tree or the glow I see when a vegetable sprouts. It’s all magic. I love going to the Strand in NYC and loading up on books in the occult section.How do you and your family work together in your home garden? What are some responsibilities kids can manage themselves?
The kids and I recently moved to a shadier house and this has proven tricky to have a garden. We sure have a lot of moss which is wonderful to walk on in bare feet. Last year I did pots on the deck but my husband doesn’t like stuff laying around, so to be polite, I tried to limit my obsession with growing things. This year, I am forcing my desire to have a garden in wooden beds (which he just built for me) and hoping that when the tree leaves come in, I have been smart enough to calculate the right spot. I am a little behind the farmers at the moment and my job at the farm is on hold for now since the public is not allowed to visit just yet. We would normally be hosting school groups my mid April.
For now, I am a mom who homeschools, so we are weaving in the history of the world (tribal nomads who turned into farmers along the Fertile Crescent) into this garden and it creates a slower pace of accomplishment. We have also been studying astronomy, tools of the ancients for understanding the universe and cycles of the moon. The kids made a sun-dial and we talked about photosynthesis a bit until their eyes glazed over. We have been planting old veggies and sprouting seeds to put in the garden. Once its time to plant, I know they will be all in. And there is an appreciation when they eat what they have touched.
Sometimes it takes kids a while to focus in the garden. Video games make them addicted to instant gratification. But once they see a seed pop its wee head up with a tiny leaf, that can often trigger the remembrance of our profound connection to the natural world. I think perhaps the muscles relax, an ease and joy overcome them, and they open up to possibilities. Being barefoot on the ground really centers a person. If you have a microscope or magnifying glass, its sometimes fun to see what’s living in the dirt. Sort of makes you remember we are all part of a living organism.
My two children really like seeding the trays with me, and once they tear themselves off their devices (although I can write this, because it’s a tv day), they dive into the dirt and immerse in the forever feeling of connection with nature. When they were little, my youngest would just plant himself in the garden one hand filled with Pokemon cards and the other picking this and that shoving tomatoes and kale into his mouth as fast as he could, dirt and all. You know those moments when you feel like a good parent, minus the Pokemon part, those were one of them. Like most kids, they tend to eat more greens picked fresh in the garden than when presented to them on a dinner plate.
I work with such an adorable age range of children. Mostly 3-5 year olds. Those little people are honest, hilarious and loving. They even look like flowers. They are in their element in the natural world and every day is filled with joy! I can’t wait to see my little pals again this Summer and make new friends and memories. We will have a program for older kids as well this year, and I look forward to their hands doing and making. This group has so much enthusiasm and feeling about being in nature and they make very delicious soups, smoothies and salads in the fields with me.
Well, I think that an easy thing to do would be to take old carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and instead of composting them, start regrowing them in a bowl of water. Its rather satisfying. Once they sprout and look sturdy, plant them in a bucket of dirt or your garden. Then you kind of are ahead of the game. Seeds not needed.
Have some old planters or a box, fill it with dirt and plants some seeds. Seeds can be found in your pantry. Beans and lentils seem to be a staple in peoples houses. Soaking them helps speed up the process. Keep the planter inside in a sunny place, keeping the soil moist until you see a sprout and then once your little plant looks strong, take outside and let them drink in the sun.
Make a composting station. You can put all your kitchen scrap plant materials in there, even coffee grounds and egg shells. We ordered some worms from Uncle Jims Worm farm and have watched our compost roller turn into a real compost making machine. Worms in the mail gets anyone excited.
Have cup of Lemon Balm tea and remember lemon balm is a wonderful herb you can find at Amber Waves and its antis-viral and makes you feel cheery. Add some local honey and sip slowly, smiling and enjoying this pause in life. Maybe even plant some so your kids can make a tea shop, so you can dry it in hour house and make your own tea to keep you warm and hopeful during the colder months.
For more information about how you can join Ms. Ann during Farm Club at Amber Waves this summer, visit our summer section!