LUMBERTON – Located on the grounds of the Robeson County Central Office Public Schools, is an educational garden intended to connect children to the earth.
The garden, called Migrant Education Community Teaching Garden, is the result of the Migrant Education Program, led by Serilda Goodwin, a recruiter for the program. The aim of the program is to help migrant students and young people overcome high academic challenges by overcoming obstacles created by frequent moves, educational disruptions, cultural and linguistic differences, and health issues.
“At first, African American families followed the harvest,” Goodwin said. “What happens when they make this kind of move, change schools, change addresses, lose friends, waste time on education? , then the real goal of the program is to reduce the chances of interruptions in the education of these students.
With the help of grants from the Kate B. Reynold Charitable Trust and Resourceful Communities, and a partnership with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, the garden has come to life.
English-speaking families participate in the garden but the majority are Spanish-speaking families, Goodwin said. The group of young people as young as 2 years old meet every Saturday to tend the garden, which contains pumpkins, squash, beans, corn, heirloom tomatoes, herbs and peppers.
“It’s a teaching garden,” Goodwin said. “We teach socialization; we obviously teach the life cycle of the plant. We use it to teach whatever we can.
Each week, children first observe the plants and the changes that have occurred during the past week.
“They will each pick a plant; they will draw the plant; they’ll do a little journaling, ”Goodwin said.
After keeping a journal, participants water the garden, listen to a story and end the day with music and dancing.
“The garden itself is aware of eating natural things that are actually earth – not crisps, candies and junk, but eating things that are natural to strengthen the body to fight the potential for diabetes. , or heart disease and things like that, ”Goodwin said.
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke partnered with the program to help create the garden, with the students building the flower beds, pouring in soil, and providing some of the plants to add to it.
Abigail Canela, a UNCP student doing a double major in chemistry and geo-environment, brought wild flowers, tomato plants and herbs to plant in the garden.
“I think it’s important for kids to interact with the outside environment just to get familiar with how their food is grown so that they can maintain themselves even better,” Canela said. “It brings a healthier connection to their food. “
St. Pauls Elementary School counselor Wendell Acosta came over one Saturday to learn about teaching gardening skills so that she could pass this knowledge on to the students who participate in the Garden Club on her own. school.
The school is in the process of establishing its own garden which will include wild flower beds, a shed and a greenhouse.
“I thought to myself that the more ideas and ways I saw it used, the more it gives you some creativity to incorporate it into our school – whether they sprinkle it, identify it or draw it. “said Acosta.
There are several lessons to be learned in connecting students to the earth.
“He teaches art. He teaches responsibility. It teaches nurturing a goal, teamwork, ”Acosta said. “We can look at a lot of these aspects and have a deep discussion. Much of the vocabulary they’re exposed to is more likely to stick around if they have something tangible to go with it.
Tomeka Sinclair can be contacted at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.