The day started out in the largest hall in the Arboretum where, from 8:30 to 11:30, all of the attendees listened to a few short speeches (two of which were given by the heads of the State Department of Agriculture and the State Department of Education) and the keynote speaker, John Fisher of Life Lab. He not only had some amazing stories about what that organization had accomplished, but also really drove home why we need to reconnect kids to where their food comes from. Kids who grow their own food are much more likely to eat that food. Doesn't matter if it's strawberries or arugula. Kids who garden also have a much better understanding of nutrition which is incredibly important in a country where 17% of youth are obese. Gardens also introduce curiosity into their classes which, in turn, fuel the 4 C's: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration. After John Fisher, a young entrepreneur from the Twin Cities, Immanuel Jones spoke about his venture, Eco City. It was incredibly inspiring for me to see someone my age going out and starting a movement to get kids in not the best area of town back to the earth and growing food for themselves and their families.
After the first half of the conference was over, we broke for lunch. This was a great time to sit down and discuss the opening speakers with my classmates and explore the Arboretum visitor center a little more. A few rooms were reserved for organizations and schools that set up tables and presentations so we browsed those and got some awesome free stuff along the way. Some seed catalogs, a gorgeously bound copy of the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom School Gardening curriculum, free zuchetta seeds, and some promotional material. I also explored their little glass conservatory where tons of orchids were in bloom. I've included my pictures at the end of the post.
|See more below!!|
I also met some really incredible people from all over the state and country. Emily Kitchen from Cornell University connected me to an awesome group of people who've organized themselves into the group Emergent on Facebook. The garden educator from Columbia Heights really gave me a good idea of what I might have to do to with my education to get into a field like this (can you say teaching license and Master Gardener certification?).
If you're interested in learning more about school gardens, look up your local school districts and see if they're doing projects to get gardens into their schools and districts and if they need help doing so. In the meantime, enjoy my pictures from the arboretum.
|One of my favorites: The Happy Dancer orchid.|
|The main lobby of the arboretum visitor center.|