About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Developing a green thumb

It is a blue skies, warm, sunny Friday here in northern California, and I am heading down to Bosch Baha'i School, nestled in the redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains to teach children's classes for the long weekend. I am going to be working with the 3-5 year-olds, which is an age group I do not have much experience with, but I am looking forward to it. I have seedlings that we are going to transplant into the garden, and am excited to see how the kids experience getting their hands in the soil and planting something. The theme for the weekend is service, so I thought getting them outside and contributing something of beauty to the school might be one way of offering service.

I have done quite a lot of gardening in the last few weeks. I transplanted my tomato plants in the back yard, and they are looking really happy. I planted peas that are finally pressing up through the soil, and my arugula and lettuce greens aren't looking too shabby either. I have also been out working in the youth garden on Soil Born Farm, and volunteered at the open farm day this past weekend, teaching kids how to mix soil and plant sunflowers that they got to take home with them. It was a lot of fun -- there is something magical about watching a child fall in love with planting and growing a garden. It nurtures a sense of responsibility and excitement, and a connection to their food and the land they live on in a way that few other things do.

Yesterday I was out on the farm working in the garden while a fifth grade class was on a field trip. Watching them graze through the garden, picking fresh arugula, lettuce greens, and radish, and eat them right there in the garden made me realize how important these opportunities are for nurturing a familiarity and willingness to engage with food intimately, as well as helping the kids develop a taste for fresh, healthy food.

Do you have a garden? A few potted herbs? How do they influence your day? I was weeding a row of tomato plants yesterday, and the smell coming from them as they warmed up in the sunshine was divine. The smell alone made me happy. Garden aromatherapy, anyone?

If you think you might like to give it a try, go to your local hardware store and grab a few peat cups (which you can actually plant into the ground with your seedling in them, because they disintegrate into the soil), some potting soil (or, for those of you who want to mix your own, some compost, some peat poss, some perlite, and some vermiculite). If you are mixing your own soil, mix it in a bowl, with about a cup of compost, half a cup of peat moss, and a little less than a quarter of a cup each of perlite and vermiculite. Plant your seeds, or, if you bought seedlings, transfer those to your soil. Make sure to water well after planting. Once your plant is firmly established, you can plant your cup outside in the soil, or in a planter. Tomatoes are a good choice to start with, since they are hard to go wrong with, and they produce delicious, sweet fruit. Cherry tomato plants are my favourite.

If you get a chance this weekend, get your hands in the soil and plant something. It need not take very long. It only takes a few minutes to plant one plant, and I guarantee you that the rewards will be well worth it! You can also just pick up some seedlings at your local nursery and transplant them directly into your garden.

I want to thank those of you who took the time to make comments on my last blog entry. The winner of the giveaway of Green & Black's fair trade chocolate is Pamela Douglas. Congratulations, Pamela! If you could please email me your mailing address, I will get your chocolate off to you early next week!

Have a superb weekend, everyone!


  1. i'm wholeheartedly intrigued by your posts; they are wonderfully documented with photos and truly written like a professional.

    i can't believe i'm the winner! i've been wanting your email for awhile now and now you want my email address :) -- it's pameladouglas9@gmail.com. here's a link that i hope you will read; it's to a blog by a woman who is serving short-term in South Africa; it's a short but very inspiring post: http://strawberry-face.blogspot.com/

  2. Sorry for the mixup Pamela! I have been having some computer problems. Thanks so much for responding. I will have your chocolate in the mail by the end of the week! xox

  3. And thank you for the link! I actually already follow strawberryface. Found it in the last year, and love the writing style and the subject matter! xox