Musings from Karimah, a Community Gardener and garden teacher
Monday, Jan 11, 2016
Karimah Abdusamad, a community gardener at SEEDS and teacher at Eastway Elementary, recently shared some thoughts with us on why she values SEEDS and the changes she sees in the children who spend time in the garden.
“As more and more children are so terribly underexposed to nature, and the outside world in general especially those in urban settings, SEEDS, and places like SEEDS are no longer just important, they play a vital role in reconnecting children to natural spaces.
We, the students at Eastway Elementary school, are fortunate to be within walking distance of SEEDS. Our initial trip there was far more than I expected in the way that the students connected with the natural setting and interacted with not only the garden and greenhouse but were truly fascinated by the chickens and everything else. One of our students attends the AFTER SCHOOL program at SEEDS and rose to the role of teacher by telling us all that we needed to know about the care and maintenance of the chickens.
We spent a couple of hours weeding and shoveling compost into a wheelbarrow. The hands on experience in a natural setting increased the students cognitive and physical abilities and was apparent later when they were observed taking on larger tasks in our own school garden and asking questions based on the conversations that they’d had interacting with SEEDS staff persons. SEEDS has partnered with us, Eastway, to bring more students on field trips to SEEDS and more science activities into the classrooms.
With so many urban school students being unable to experience nature in all seasons, SEEDS is there in the very setting that they are with the infrastructure to facilitate numerous experiences.
Earlier in the week I was making a purchase for our school garden at a local shop when the subject of gardening in schools came up, the shop owner became excitedly interested and inquired about what we were doing, at the mention of the partnership that we have with SEEDS there was an overflowing of generosity on his part. I left the shop with things for the garden that we had not been able to purchase because of his generosity and because he, as a community person believes in the mission of SEEDS.
I maintain a small plot as a community gardener at SEEDS and through that experience I have widened my circle of community in Durham, but the most important story that I can share about the garden is through the students that I work with. Recently, I, the writer, was not in my regular “school clothes” when a group of students made admiring compliments about how well I looked, and went on to ask why I didn’t dress that way every day…..before I had the chance to bask in the glory of the compliment another student stated simply, ‘if she dressed like that every day we wouldn’t be able to go to the garden’!”