It was my first field trip today to offer observations and ideas from the point of view of an urban farmer with educational and experiential background.
My tour guide was a garden enthusiast mom who have a passion to help start productive gardens at schools .To start with she initiated a pilot program a year ago and tried in vain to gather support from local sources and resources .She contacted me and today we were at the school garden .
My observatuion at the first instance was spotting her child of six years old bear foot walking towards a red mulched terrain.I stopped to comment about how dangerous it is to expose children to chemuicals and syntheic dyes .Red dyed mulch has been studied exposing animals to tread on it and the results were a myriad cases of cancers etc..
I was told that there are no support from school districts that struggle with limited resources and cut budgets.Also it is haRD TO GATHER VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE IN THE tropical FIELD OF ORGANIC GARDENING IN S.FLORIDA .SCIENCE tEACHERS OR VOLUNTEERS FROM ENVIRONMENT SCHOOL CLUBS OROM SCIENCE usually fill in the vaccant positions and classes tend to focus on indoor and scientific aspects of gardening while the REAL GARDEN is set to look nice with the help of landscaping companies that rush to use fertilizers and dyed mulch and ornamentals and lawns etc..
That garden looked tiny and the only garden "plants" were a struggling tomato next to a cactus and papaya tree .The horticultural laws of XERISCAPING was so obviously violated.Cactus with SPIKES and THORNS planted in an elementary school garden next to each others !!!!!
Do not ask me more about the raised beds that were at the same level with the lawn grass !!"I H ave tried to grow and nothing comes out" was my tour guide comment."I want your help", she continued.
My heart jumped at the sincere passion expressed.I remembered all those years I have spent tending to a series of community gardens that went dormant one after another due to lack of funds,support from both local public and private entities.Politics ,opportunists ,job seekers who are not experienced enough or educated enough to maintain or manage a school organic garden and many other reasons yet to be discovered ...usually take hold of and the result a failed garden and loss of funds and resources.Who is to blame? I beleive those who are at the recruitment posts should be held accountable because their IGNORANCE or LACK of PRODUCTIVE GARDENNING education or experience is the culprit.So we end up with GREEN WASH culture.
Hopefullyh someone there who reads articles of feedback about our school gardens might notice that there must be a different approach to educate our children how to grow food by EXPERIENCED and EDUCATED organic HORTICULTURIST.
There are so much rules and regulations and red tape that will take so long to move on a school productive garden.There so much lack of experiencd LOCAL horticulturists or organic urban farmers to be found.Most quit and give up after so many VOLUNTEERING years while those OFFICE STAFF who hire them remain for years and years reaping high profile salaries and suck out the budget funds on administration overheads while productive school gardens keep on shrinking in size and productivity to say the least...or shall we say desist to exist??
I am positive that there are successful school gardens out there but we need more sources,support and more volunteers with passion like my garden friend who also should be rewarded with pay.