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Teenagers enjoy summer work in Lanark's Plan B Community Garden (July, 2020)

Thursday July 30th, 2020

Lanark's Plan B Garden Activities:

Lanark's Plan B Community gathered teenagers and parents to engage in the garden at Glengyle Garlic Farm (#2208 Highway 511) with host of the land- Cliff Neudorf. Melanie Mills received funding through Lanark County and is the motivating force in creating learning opportunities for teenage youth in the garden classroom. Youth delved into working with topics like weeds, foraging, annual and perennial gardens, mycelium and fungi. The topic of diversity was also a primary focus-we not only applied the importance of diversity to the plant communities, but also for human communities.

After spending an hour of weeding in the garden, we gathered with some freshly foraged nettle tea and then sat in a circle to introduce our intentions for participating in the program. We introduced the importance of developing our understanding of sustainable practices on the land and how our future depends on it.

We gathered in a talking circle to identify weeds - lambs quarters, red clover, mallow, amaranth, plantain, dandelion - as nutritious plants that grow prolifically on the farm’s gardenscape. The group was given food for thought with regards to how plant diversity is absolutely necessary in order to strengthen growing conditions in our garden soil and/or to strengthen and develop dynamic relationships in our community. We focused on identifying the common edible and medicinal weeds (aka: nutritional plants) that grow beneath our feet and how they blanket the earth may assist us to navigate through climate crisis. We discussed how the plant and fungi communicate through the mycelial network’s capacity to exchange nutrients and hold onto moisture under the soil. Introducing ideas about how the soil benefits from less disturbance so to maintain the mycelium's nutrient passageways which connects the majority of plants to the fungal world. We tasted nettle tea as a nutritious drink not only for us humans, but also included nettle as a nutritional tea for the plants. The term ‘permaculture’ was touched upon when describing how humans need to assist in the process of building soil’s capacity to create a permanent culture of healthy microbes to assist in sustaining plant health.

Throughout the morning, we discussed topics of interest in a restorative communication circle where we passed the talking piece, exercised active listening, eye contact, speaking and listening from the heart as we addressed the importance of suspending judgement so to give everyone the opportunity to share in a respectful safe circle environment. Mention of how communication between humans may be the most challenging work that we encounter in our life time. Again in the sharing circle, we emphasized the importance of diversified communities - every one who sits in the circle brings unique talents and skillsets to the table. The teenagers were keen and insightful as they honed in on their connection to the earth and they openly shared their perspectives with natures best interest in mind.

In closing, we set out to forage some clover flower for the following day’s tea-time and then passed the talking piece to tap into the youth’s feedback concerning their personal learning in the garden that they were taking home with them.

Comments (below) from the participating adolescent youth revealed their enthusiasm to learn in the garden classroom and confirms the need to continue this program about building awareness around locally grown produce:

‘ I would like to participate in the next garden session.” “I appreciated learning about Mycelium and how it connects the plants.” “I did not know the difference between weeds and garden plants before I arrived, and now I do.” “I appreciate learning about what is in the garden because we need to help future generations to learn, especially through climate warming.” I am here because it is important to be apart of a larger community interested in sustainable practices.” I am here because I love plants..I have about 100 plants at home… I like weeding the row of carrots…it has to be done."

Restorative Circle Practices 


Nature as a Mentor

“In this process of unlearning, in the process of feeling and hearing the plants again,
one comes to realize many things.”

-Stephen Harrod Buhner