Hi, I’m Mark-Antonio Smith, Founder and Educator of The Nurtury For Kids. For the past three years, I have been working with Project Most, Slow Food East End and private families in educating young growers as well as consulting with schools on the East End in starting and maintaining gardening spaces.
In addition to growing food, I love to road cycle, cook, hike and sky dive. You can often find me cycling through Montauk, Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, Southampton or Shelter Island. Trying new ingredients with familiar proteins and veggies feeds my desire to explore culinarily. I also love to sample all of the delicious local foods that the East End has to offer.
[expand title=”How did your love of gardening begin?“]
Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, my mother’s garden was where my love of exploration sprouted. She taught me the simplicity of propagation. As we weren’t always able to find or afford unique varieties, we would explore our surroundings and collect different cuttings of plants from neighbors, parks or roadsides. We didn’t always have successful results in growing our new cuttings, but the experiences we shared had a tremendous impact on my decision to pursue a career in growing food with children through play and experimentation.
[expand title=”Why is it important for kids to spend time gardening?“]
Most kids love getting their hands dirty! So, why not give them dirt? Providing children access to sustainable gardening activities allows them to ask questions, be creative and share their experiences. Explore!!! It’s amazing what happens when you provide kid appropriate tools like plastic tweezers, binoculars or magnifying glasses. Allowing a child the opportunity to wander and wonder about what they find, can be life changing. Through this process, they learn about the world around them, how to collaborate, and even how to grow healthy sustainable food. All this through exploratory play in a garden space.
[expand title=”What can families expect in the gardening program this summer?“]
I have found that the most effective way for us to learn is through our own experiences. What better way to achieve this than through exploration? I look forward to introducing fun ways to interact with the garden — engaging all five of our senses through investigating, constructing, planting and best of all…tasting!
[expand title=”What is an activity families can do at home right now?“]
One magical introduction to the growing process can be through the observation of as simple seed. Try this, plant two dried beans in an egg slot from a paper pulp egg carton or a biodegradable pot with some potting mix. Then, consider constructing your very own “seed viewer” to observe the germination of a bean. Put both containers near a window where the whole family will be able to see the amazing transformation from seed to plant. After seeds germinate, you may decide to transplant them into your garden or a larger pot! I look forward to hearing you share your experiences of this really cool experiment.
Here are two links that will guide you through the process:
For more information about how you can join Mark Antonio In The Garden @ Bridge Gardens this summer, visit our summer section!