Students learned how bugs, water, and sunlight all simultaneously play an important role in creating a balanced environment for plants to grow. The kids delved into the permaculture principle “Design for All,” exploring this in an agricultural, ecological, and social context. Mindfulness and compassion for all life forms was emphasized, as was reducing the need for synthetic and toxic agricultural chemicals. In a social context, Design for All teaches us how to find value in people who we might discriminate against.
The conversations this aroused were inspiring. Several students shared their personal frustration with discrimination. In an ecological context, the kids learned why we should value bugs. Like most, they had no idea how important these insects are.
To invite beneficial insects into our garden, they designed, hammered, drilled, and sanded components to make little bug hotels. By attracting the little creatures that repel pests, there’s no need for toxic chemicals or pesticides. They also played educational board games. The UDSP is a special combination of classroom learning, experiential education, field trips, and fun.
Everyone was looking forward to seeing animals on our field trip to Alley Pond, but, unfortunately, the buses didn’t come. Luckily, the wonderful teachers at Alley Pond brought the animals and the lessons to us! UDSP students got to see and interact with snakes, rabbits, iguanas, and more. Later, they all went to Travers Park and took a well-deserved break, frolicking in the water.
Students made pizzas, which all enjoyed eating together afterwards. They also learned about worms and microorganisms. Neglected and harmed in large-scale agriculture, ecological and human health problems arise without them; soil can become infertile. The kids came to understand how valuable these organisms are and saw them mate. A new love and appreciation was ignited upon seeing worm eggs and newly hatched worms. This brought full circle the importance of Designing for All.