During our second week of the program, students were introduced to viewing permaculture through exploring the relationship between all living things within our garden. Students worked on understanding how bugs, water, and sunlight all simultaneously play an important role in creating a balanced environment for plants to grow. In cooking, we made pizzas to enjoy together. Our gardeners are exploring how to enhance these elements in our program by designing their own future gardens and building bug hotels. They also began to put permaculture principles in practice by playing Pin the Permaculture Principle a permaculture landscape design and brought out their designs from our first week to see where they had already incorporated principles and brainstormed how they could include more with their new knowledge from the past two weeks!
This past week we were learning about the permaculture theme “Design for All”. We talked a lot about what this means in agriculture and eco-friendly design, and what it means in a social context. Design for All is such an important permaculture principle as it truly allows us to apply mindfulness and compassion for all life forms, and when this is applied, there becomes less need for synthetic and toxic agricultural inputs. And in the social context, this principle teaches us how to find value in people who we would tend to discriminate against for biased reasons. The conversations this aroused were really inspiring as the kids demonstrated their frustration against discrimination. And in the ecological context, we learned to value bugs, and design for them; they were really excited to learn that these insects were more important than we assumed. We built bug hotels to invite beneficial insects into our garden. I think this was their favorite activity so far! They got to saw, hammer, drill, sand, DESIGN and engineer little “hotels” to attract more beneficial insects into our space for we learned that these little creatures protect our gardens from pests without having to use toxic chemicals as found in pesticides. But the most thrilling yet was the discovery of the personal life of worms! Worms and microorganisms are often neglected and not designed for—they are not thought about in mainstream agricultural design. As such, we adopt practices that harm these life forms, producing, in result, a series of ecological and human health problems. When we saw what it looked like when we did NOT design for these life forms, we saw how poor and infertile soil became. It was quite touching when the students started to understand how valuable these organisms were and make that connection between environmental health and thriving worms. And when they saw worms mate, when they saw worm eggs and newly hatched worms, a new love and appreciation ignited. This experience, this connection, really helped seal in the importance of designing for all.
We had all been excited about seeing animals on our field trip to Alley Pond, so when the buses didn’t come, we were disappointed. Luckily, the wonderful teachers at Alley Pond brought the animals and the lessons to us! We got to see and interact with snakes, rabbits, iguanas, and more. After, we went to Traverse Park and explored!