We live in a world that is becoming more and more urbanized and electronic. In order to restore balance to the lives of our young people and to foster a strong connection to the natural world around us, each of the RE classes has a garden bed. The gardens are themed so that they enhance the topics in which the children are engaging in their classes. The gardens not only provide and opportunity for the children to touch the earth, they also provide an additional avenue for them to understand and internalize their classroom messages.
These gardens also support our mega congregational concern for environmental justice and its connection to food justice. The pre-school classes compost the scraps from their fresh fruit snacks and the compost is then used in the garden beds. In some cases, these garden beds grow vegetables that are used in the RE program (Stone Soup event, for example) and/or donated to the Trinity Episcopal Food pantry in our neighborhood. (We are part of a consortium of churches in this neighborhood called Holy Ground Collaborative that, among other things, support the food pantry.) Our youth help maintain the community garden beds and further their connection with food & social justice issues by participating in the preparation and serving of a hot lunch to the hungry in our neighborhood.
Through a myriad of ways, our gardens support the spiritual and empathetic development of our children and youth.