About Me

My photo
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.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Invested: A small contribution that will make an enormous difference in our children's lives

Photo property of Ariana Salvo. May not be reproduced without permission.
I thought I would share this image today because it makes me happy. It makes me happy because I planted those gorgeous heads of lettuce in my hands with a group of kids from a local school, and they turned out beautifully (and for the record, they were crisp and flavourful as well!)...they looked like flowers in full bloom, and when I saw how well they had turned out it made me supremely proud of the kids. I only wish they were coming back to the farm to see the fruit of their labour. There are few things as empowering and inspiring as harvesting food that you planted and being able to take it home to share with your family.

Photo property of Ariana Salvo. May not be reproduced without permission.
 Soil Born Farms provides the opportunity for local children and youth to visit a working farm, to interact with the chickens and pigs and cows and sheep, and to learn about growing healthy food. In the past the opportunity to visit the farm was free, but with all of the budget cuts and loss of funding, Soil Born has had to start charging for the privilege of visiting the farm. What this means is that many low income school children do not get to visit the farm at all anymore, and those that used to come multiple times throughout the year can only afford to come once or twice, if they are lucky. The only children that still have the opportunity to visit throughout the year are those attending more affluent schools.

Photo property of Ariana Salvo. May not be reproduced without permission.
 Recently someone made a donation of one thousand dollars to Soil Born Farms to enable a low income school class to come spend time on the farm. I was there when the kids came for the first time. I have been volunteering on the farm for almost ten months now, and have seen a lot of kids, but this class was the toughest group I have experienced. There was a lot of pushing and shoving, bad language, inability to pay attention, inability to listen and follow instructions. The class was only on the farm for a few hours, but when they left I was totally exhausted. Myself and the head of the education program spent so much of our time trying asking the kids to listen, stop arguing or pushing each other, to stick together and to use their quiet voices (so as not to scare off the local wildlife) that it was hard to see how the kids could possibly be benefiting from the experience at all. Getting their attention and keeping it was so hard that it was really tough to tell how much they actually learned.

The experience of having this class on the farm, although unpleasant in many ways, made me realize one thing: these kids, more than any of the other kids that visit the farm, really need to be there. They need time outdoors. They need the opportunity to interact with the natural world. To be silent. To listen to the sounds of nature. To watch birds circling in the sky. They need to get their hands in the soil and learn how to plant a seed and help it grow. They need to be given the chance to develop a relationship with the land because it nurtures hope, patience, persistence, determination, responsibility and respect in them. They need to develop relationships with adults who listen to them and respect them and challenge them to slow down and pay attention to the world around them. They need all of this because many of them are just not getting very much if any of this from any other source.

It may not seem like this group of kids really benefited from their morning on the farm, but I know that they did. I know it because of the little things that could easily go unnoticed. Like the girl who told me that she had been to the farm before--in second grade (3 years ago). For her to remember a single visit that she made to the farm as a second-grader three years ago tells me that even a single morning interacting with the land has an impact on a child, even if she/he does not seem to be paying attention.

Photo property of Ariana Salvo. May not be reproduced without permission.
It is December--a time for giving--and I know that many people are getting ready to buy gifts to give their loved ones for Christmas. There are many places to invest this season, but I wanted to invite those of you who are looking for a way to give something this season that will have a larger impact on the children in our community to consider making a donation to Soil Born Farms here. If you would like to learn more about Soil Born Farms, and the many positive ways that they are contributing to the larger Sacramento community, you can visit their main web page here. If you have friends or family who might be interested in contributing to Soil Born Farms, please feel free to share this entry with them.

Photo property of Ariana Salvo. May not be reproduced without permission.
These children are the future, and every little thing we do to invest in their health and spiritual, moral and intellectual education during their formative years is an investment in the long-term health and well-being of our global community.

I wish you a terrific Wednesday, Friends!

No comments:

Post a Comment