With the sweet scent of spring in the air and flowers just peaking out of the soil, my thoughts turn toward the garden as I contemplate the living arts. I pause and think about how growing one’s own food used to be such an integral part of daily domestic life. Before the rise of industrialized agriculture, sprawling supermarkets, and prepackaged meals, the majority of the population not only prepared and cooked their own food, but cultivated it on the very same fields on which they lived. It was undoubtedly very hard work, but it was meaningful work that reflected a relationship between the land and domestic living. I think of the Lifeways garden in these terms. It restores the relationship between land and home, engaging children in the meaningful work of planting, harvesting, and preparing foods as part of their living arts practice.
Gathering soil, water, and recycled egg cartons, Lifeways children began this year’s gardening season by planting heirloom sweet pea and tomato seeds. Tending to them each day, children can watch their tomatoes perched by the window sprout to tiny seedlings. When ready, we will plant them together in the garden along with a diverse array of flowers and vegetable seeds. During the spring, summer, and fall children have the opportunity to care for the garden, observe as it grows to a bountiful harvest, and eat the fresh, organic produce they have sown. We continue our purposeful work by adding the day’s food scraps to the heaping compost pile where children are able to witness the full cycle of a sustainable food system. During the upcoming May festival, I welcome parents alongside their little ones to help prepare the garden for this year’s growing season, and furthermore learn first hand how this enriching living arts practice lays an important foundation for the children at Lifeways.