February 16, 2011
"Raise your right hand in the air," Emily Enko, the brains and love behind Temple Community Garden's programs at Penrose Community Center, lead the children in a pledge of commitment. "Repeat after me: I solemnly swear... to love my baby, to feed them water and sunlight, to take care of it in all weather..." Over half a dozen elementary school aged voices echoed hers in a scrambled form.
"Baby" on this day referred to the promise of a plant. Caring for a plant is a microcosm for carrying for a pet, perhaps a child, and is a way to teach responsibility. Being entrusted with a responsibility makes one feel important, competent, grown up. For North Philadelphia school children whose schools are severely underfunded and whose futures without an adequate education are bleak, TCG hoped to provide a fun activity which would teach not only what goes into making plants grow, but what it means to take ownership over something.
"Mine is named Princess!" one little lady exclaimed, painting her flower pot with the name of her future plant. The kids started with painting their pot with an individual design. Then they filled the pots with soil, and placed radish seeds inside of them.
While the silly pledge with one raised right hand may be quickly forgotten within the life of a 5-11 year old on a community playground, TCG hopes to bring both the love of vegetables and healthy eating and the joy of visible growth to this small community. TCG's Penrose program is at 4 PM on Wednesday afternoons and involves a garden or food lesson, fun games, and homework help. If you are interested in helping out, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Abigail Reimold TCG