We have arrived and we have begun the process of settling, orienting, and exploring this place. The garden here at Martin Luther King Middle school is captivating. It winds and turns this way and that, with rows of vegetables interspersed with fruiting trees, dripping apricots, lemons, and mulberries. Chickens and ducks eat their fill and laze around, while hummingbirds flit through the branches of the olive trees and the resident cat leaves paw prints on the glass top of the greenhouse. It is a magical, whimsical, grounding place of discovery and connection. An invitation lies around every corner and in every nook and cranny.
We spent our first full day of learning, alongside the other "Leeks" in our cohort, in the garden. The Leeks are a group of 30 educators, administrators, and program coordinators from the southeast (Alabama, Louisiana, North Carlina, Georgia), New York City, and Washington state. We come to this place for different reasons, but with similar intentions- to dig ourselves deeper into the Edible Education movement and to learn how to harness our energies to be agents of positive change, through food and garden education, in our schools and communities.
The lessons in the garden today were inspiring in both structure and function. We propagated ground cherries, turned compost, harvested, turned beds, learned about the evolution of corn, explored simple machines that ancient Egyptians used to build pyramids, made garden-fresh lettuce tacos, studies bees...and so much more.
One of the most important lessons for me today came from the opportunity to reflect on this question: "Where am I priveledged to serve?"
And, in this place, what is the soil like?....the water?...the air?...who are the guardians of this place (the mountains)?...and who are the first people that lived there?
We were reminded to pay attention. And then, ask ourselves, How do I tend this place?
What principles guide us? Orienting ourselves to our principles, we were urged to catch hold. Catch hold of what matters most. Good food helps us remember who we are. Good food helps us connect to people and other beings of and beyond this earth, living and non living. Good food makes our bodies strong and our minds bright. Every child, every person, deserves the opportunity to know, understand and have access to good food.
It's a lot to take in. A lot to consider.
Here we go.