At Casa Azafran Early Learning Center, we love insects. Earlier this fall, students in the garden classes learned read the book Not a Buzz to be Found: Insects in Winter by Linda Glaser. The book taught us about what insects do when weather conditions outside are not favorable for them. Bees return to their hives; ladybugs hide under logs; wooly bear caterpillars wait out winter under blankets of leaves in the forest. Perhaps the most popular page of the book talked about monarch butterflies that fly south to Mexico in the winter. One child was so excited as he looked at the illustrations of bright orange and black polka dotted wings fluttering through the sky, he could barely contain his joy, crying: “Ms. Anita, Ms. Anita, I fly to Mexico with my mama!”
At Plant the Seed, we value the unique life experiences of every child we meet. Through our projects in the dirt kitchen or the potting station we get to know the students and their families. Many children with whom we work all over the city are immigrants or first generation USAmericans. Part of what we strive to do in our garden work is make connections: with the children we teach, with the plants we tend, with families and with our global community. Hearing these words from my young friend was an incomparable moment; when he shared his excitement with me, having found a similarity between his family’s story of migration and the yearly migration of one of the most beautiful insects known to humans, a sense of belonging swept over him. He shared that his abuela lives in Mexico and he visits her with his mother, that they enjoy cooking together and that he likes flying on the airplane. Just like the butterflies that have many different homes as they travel south to warmer climates, our students sometimes have many homes. We work every day to ensure that the garden is counted among those.