Children Tending the Land – WILDER ONES

When a child is allowed the opportunity of solo exploration among fields of green a cognitive awakening occurs. A visceral cord is struck. The intrinsic survival instincts kick in. The mind, body and spirit unite, guiding the child to get back to the essence of nature. The child hears the sounds of crickets, birds, leaves rustling, the call of the wind. Their eyes open wide to all the wonders of nature. Their eyes dance across the horizon witnessing the colors, textures, patterns, shapes and lines come to life. They notice the tiny beautiful intricacies of nature. They get down, knees pressed to earth and look at the tiny world that is thriving beneath their feet.  The smell of the earth is rich and familiar. They taste the flavors of the earth- the sweetness of berries, the bitter dandelion greens, the crisp fresh food from their gardens and the salty sweat which drips from their cheek as the sun crosses the skyline. They become in tune with the rhythms, the seasons, the cycles of the natural world.

At age 4, our daughter has more knowledge than I did at age 16. She knows how to grow, how to weed, how to harvest and how to cook.

She runs the fields barefoot. She sings to the crops and dances for the plants. She is curious and brave, intelligent and wise, sweet and compassionate, loving and nurturing. She is 4 but she is wise like the sages. She teaches me so much about life and love and healing.

She knows about herbal medicine. A budding herbalist, she collects plantain leaves when her friends get stung or bitten. She collects chickweed, violets, dandelion greens and flowers in the spring for salads. She helps us plant thousands of seeds in the hightunnel. In the summer, she weeds and waters the crops with us. She picks purslane and lambsquarters and feeds it to us while we work. She helps carry cabbage down 100 foot rows. She harvests garlic with us and peels it.  In the autumn, she harvests the bounty with us. She picks peppers (100 peppers in 10 minutes) She loves pulling garnet beets and vibrant carrots from the earth. She arranges the produce artfully in produce baskets to photograph. In the winter, she draws pictures of us (her family) in the fields. She designs gardens and speaks of another harvest.

Children thrive when they are given great responsibility. To tend to the land and to care for a garden instill in them something that stays with them their entire life. Knowing how to grow food is so vital to the future of humanity. All children should be given this beautiful opportunity.

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