“Do you think gardens are an important part of community? Why or why not?” This was a question posed to Friends School of Minnesota kindergarten students before a neighborhood hike to the community garden. I asked them to hold that question while we walked and sketched. We would discuss their ideas after their experience.

The first six weeks of school have been focused on community building, what brings us together, and what bonds us as a classroom of learners. We are fortunate to have a community garden a few blocks away from Friends School of Minnesota. It is a great example of people working together, sharing knowledge, growing food and flowers, keeping bees… all of which strengthens our community.

Kindergarten students were asked to find flowers, fruit, vegetables, or a plant to observe and sketch once we reached the community garden. It was a sunny, autumn day perfect for the task. After many exclamations and excited shouts about the garden’s beauty, students sat absorbed in their sketch work for over twenty minutes.

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I called students over to a shady part of the garden by the “Secret Lilacs,” a beloved play space, and reminded students about the question we were holding from Morning Circle:

“So now that we have spent time in the garden, what’s your opinion about whether or not a garden is an important part of the community?

This is what the kindergarteners said:

“Gardens are very important because the flowers pass out many seeds, and the seeds create more flowers to make the Earth beautiful.”

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“They are beautiful and help the community because they grow things on the earth.”

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“Flowers and plants give oxygen—that is why if you chop a tree down, you need to plant a new one so we can breathe.”

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“Gardens are important because we need the food that grows in them.”

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 “We have to respect gardens and not pick everything so that they can be alive again.”

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This initial dialogue and garden experience is the first of many hikes and discussions that the kindergarten students will have around themes of community, connections, food, and respect. It was interesting to me that the conversation turned from a strong sense of connection to the beauty towards the idea of respect and preservation. Seeds for the future, to be sure.

Marshall Anderson, Kindergarten Teacher