The Mechanics of Gardening

The Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) is a beautiful
place where children learn analytical and critical thinking. In addition to its educational attributes,
the garden is such a pleasure to be in because of all of its colorful fruits, vegetables and flowers. The students at PS 346 have learned about seeds, garden maintenance and how to harvest vegetation. But how did the UGC become such a beautiful place? This week Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman showed the students that being a farmer or gardener requires a lot of work—work that is made easier with the invention of simple machinery.

Roytman started her third grade class with a role-playing lesson: each student was dubbed an apprentice gardener/farmer developing their very own farm.

“There was a time when farmers did not have electric machinery to help them. So how were they able to manage large areas of farmland?” Roytman inquired. The students were asked to think critically about the tools necessary for a gardener or farmer to till the soil. After it rains, farmers/gardeners usually till the soil (turn it) so that seeds may be planted. Eight-year-old Brandon, now dubbed Farmer Brandon, was given a stick to turn the soil. However, this process was hard because the soil would spill out of the garden bed.
“There are simple machines and tools farmers use to make tilling easier,” said Roytman. While large farms would use tractors or ploughs, there are human-powered tools that could be found in a garden such as pitchforks, shovels, hoes and rakes. Roytman asked eight-year-old Farmer Christian to try tilling the soil with a pitchfork. The process was quick, easy and fun.

“How about if we want to move this heavy sack of hay?” asked Roytman as Garden Assistant, Ben Randazzo attempted to lift it to no avail. Using logic, creativity and a vivid imagination, Farmer Tamia
suggested tying it to a horse, so that it could be dragged across the garden. Alas, the UGC does not
have a horse on hand. However, Roytman proposed the use of a wheelbarrow—a simple machine requiring only one wheel, a surface to place materials and two handles.

“Machines and tools are beneficial to farmers/gardeners because it can allow them to do more work in a shorter time,” Roytman said. The third graders took turns testing the efficiency of lifting heavy buckets of soil by hand versus using a wheelbarrow. The heavier the object, the harder it was for the children to move it from one part of the garden to another. Nevertheless, the wheelbarrow allowed the students to move buckets of soil at a faster pace. Roytman ended the lesson by stating that these tools help her make the garden a beautiful place.
Photos by Amanda Moses