The Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom is once again filled with the laughter of children as Oasis Day Campers explore the garden. Twice a week, campers will learn about nature, garden maintenance, and harvesting fresh vegetation from Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman. She is combining learning and fun in each of her lessons, teaching the children how to tell when the vegetables are ready to harvest, and if they need more water or weeding.
Roytman is excited to have young curious minds exploring the garden over the summer. She has developed a garden-themed grouping system for all children visiting the garden, which will separate the students into groups (labeled butterflies, bumblebees or hummingbirds.) During their first visit, she gave the students a tour of the garden so that they could learn about the different vegetation and how to take care of them.
Many of the campers walked around the garden amazed by all of plants growing. Some knew which plants were tomatoes, okra, corn and Callaloo. Roytman presented the students with bright orange Nasturtium flowers growing in one of the beds. “These are edible flowers that can be eaten as a garnish on a salad,” Roytman told them. Camp Oasis Program Instructor, Benjamin White, wanted to know what the flower tasted like so he took a bite of the petal, leaf and the stem. “It tastes peppery,” he told the children smiling.
For the campers next visit, Roytman will teach them all about garden maintenance, how to har-vest plants, and a scavenger hunt. She will explain to the campers the importance of weeding, amending the soil, and watering the plants. These tasks are crucial in garden maintenance because they help ensure that the plants receive all of their proper nutrition. In order to make these tasks more fun, Roytman will host a competition. Whichever group collects the most weeds, which will be weighed on a scale, will get to be wet first under the garden hose when they leave for the day.
The final activity will be a scavenger hunt, which will allow the students to recite what they’ve learned in the garden through exploration. They will walk around the garden and identify herbs, fruit, and the vegetables. With clipboards in hand, the campers will fill out a scavenger sheet that records all the sights, sounds, and smells of the garden. Once they are acquainted with the different types of vegetation they will also learn about pollinator bugs (such as bees and butterflies), which are creatures that help the garden flourish.
After all of the tasks are done, the children can harvest some vegetables to try, such as the tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries and so much more.
Photo by Amanda Moses