We are turning a lot of our attention to kids, because that is where the habits start. In March, three groups, involving a total of 32 children, ranging in ages from 4 to 12, began training classes and hands on involvement in all phases of gardening, including soil preparation, planting, seeding, maintenance, harvesting and preserving. Classes and garden work took place weekly at two homes in the Colosio community, the poorest neighborhood in Naco, and at C.A.M.E., Centro de Educacion Multiple Especial, a small school for children with advanced learning disabilities.
Homework involved lesson study and bringing a bag of vegetable scraps for the class compost pile each week. There was also soccer, group games, drawing, riddles, jokes and crafts in addition to garden and health education. There was a great deal of joy and pride in watching their seeds grow into actual delicious vegetables they could enjoy eating. Harvests were distributed equally for everyone to take home for their families.
One little girl, Jasmine, has leg paralysis and is confined to a wheelchair. She participated in every activity, and her classmates always made sure she was included in all of the games, vying for the chance to push her wheelchair so that she could stay with, and participate in all of the action. When she demonstrated that she had learned to use a walker, the group erupted with applause. Another time, when one classmate had an accident and couldn't come to class, the group went to visit him and take a prize. There was not only a lot of interest in knowing the answers and learning gardening skills, but also learning to work in the community and look out for the interests and benefits of everyone.
Norma Bernabe and Manuela Ramirez, the group's teachers, are truly remarkable women, gifted with an innate and wonderful ability to relate and nurture success in working with children. They were frequently called "Aunt" with total love and affection. The pictures tell the stories of everyone's successes of experiences that will always remain an important part of their lives.