Yes friends, I do hear Elsa’s voice singing in my head quite a bit lately. Like many of you, I entered Spring Break with a long list of all the tasks and projects I wanted to accomplish this spring in our school garden. Before the break, we had planted seeds for our Tops and Bottoms garden (lettuce, kale, carrots, radishes and corn), grew our own tomatoes from seed for the pizza garden and were watching our hydroponic tomatoes beginning to show signs of turning red to the amazement of teachers and students alike. And then, in a very rapid sweep, each day of Spring Break brought news of a changing reality. By the end of the week, we were no longer returning to school in the near future.
My first thoughts were along the lines of: How can we get things weeded and cleared out now? What can I do to keep what is already planted going? How can I keep it all watered? Will school return this year? If we do go back, will the kids be sad if the garden is a disaster? What will happen if we don’t go back? The school district does not want people on campus, can I even get special permission to water the plants? Add that to keeping up with work and taking on the task of home schooling using all the content coming my way from our school district and I was feeling a bit frazzled and stressed after week one. Over the weekend, I had a chance to take a breath and I heard a wonderful message about how at this time, it is okay to let things go. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
For all of you who are dedicated to keeping your school gardens going during this challenging time, a big WOW! and thank you for your efforts. Your kids will be so very excited when they go back. I have heard wonderful stories of educators able to share the growing garden with their students through digital communications. For those of you who are maintaining food gardens to help make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are available in your community, an even bigger applause. The value of gardens to local food systems is higher and more evident than ever.
But I hope that you guys don’t mind that I want to share this message too, just in case some of you might be in my situation where the balls in the air are just too many: it is okay to let it go if you need to. I found homes for most of the tomatoes that were slated to be planted in the pizza garden and then potted up what I had left in 5 gallon buckets with holes drilled in the bottom. If Mother Nature throws rain our way, some plants may make it, and some plants may not. The weeds will probably take over. There will probably be fire ants. But the bottom line is that when we get back, we can reclaim it. Perhaps there will even be some good lessons to learn along the way as we do.
Deciding what can be let go and what cannot is a constant process and that list will be different for everyone. I am trying to make it a priority to get outside in some way or another every day because I know how important that is for all of us. With my new class of two students, we are continuing to visit our pollinator garden on wheels to watch the monarch caterpillars chomp away (we have 1 chrysalis already) and we also make sure to swing by our honeysuckle vine to taste the flowers (my son’s absolutely favorite garden activity right now) and check in on our nesting cardinals there. It is not the grand garden program I had planned, but I will tuck those ideas away for a later date and keep dreaming while remembering to look for the peace that I can find today in whatever bit of nature I can find.