When we work with the students, teachers and community surrounding our garden programs, we do more than put seeds in the ground and wait for veggie sprouts to pop through the soil. In the springtime, we wait with bated breath, checking each day to see which seedling will sprout first. The children sometimes ask, “Is it true? Will a potato really grow where we planted some potato eyes last season?” Yes, there’s a certain amount of doubt that happens sometimes in the garden, as we wonder whether or not our seeds which we have tended through the winter will come up as temperatures climb; or whether the bulbs we planted in the fall will send their tender shoots up towards the sun, just like the colorful pictures on the packages from the garden center. At Plant the Seed, we work through that phase of doubt (or plain forgetfulness, as sometimes we say, “hmmm…now what did I plant here?!”) and travel onwards towards the revelation that comes when the plants show up.
Plant the Seed’s Executive Director Susannah Fotopulos often asks the children around her, “If you plant a carrot seed, a carrot grows. If you plant a tomato seed, a tomato plant grows. So what do we get when we plant a seed of kindness?” This method of asking questions helps the children and teachers alike pause and think about all the things that we can cultivate in our world! Does kindness truly grow? The preschoolers would offer a resounding “YES!” It needs to be tended with care, the right environment, favorable weather and, as all things that grow require, have the weeds pulled up wherever we plant it. At Plant the Seed, we value the social emotional development of the children we work with as high as the intellectual work and skill development our program is designed to impart. Not only are we practicing our fine motor skills by grasping tiny seeds between the thumb and forefinger; not only are we learning how to measure the depth at which we plant our daffodil, crocus and paperwhite bulbs; not only are we learning how to share when our friends are taking up a lot of space at the digging station–we are also learning, children and teachers together, how to plant seeds of kindness, care and empathy wherever we grow. Let us continue pulling up the weeds and showering seeds of kindness with warm compassionate rain, and above all, let’s keep letting the sun poke through the clouds.