Good lessons growing in garden

Published 11:02 pm Thursday, July 24, 2014

If you ask Jenelle Mejia, prayer has a little something to do with the fact that small children tending a garden at Ebenezer United Methodist Church have had more success than many adults who try out their green thumbs.

That’s highly likely, but her tutelage of the kids — ages 3 to 11 — and some strategic planting probably had something to do with it, too.

The Children’s Garden at the Bridge Road church has been a success halfway through its first season. Mejia, a former elementary school teacher, knows the value of hands-on learning. So the planting began this spring with radishes because they sprout quickly, overcoming the boredom factor that could have had the children disinterested.

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The kids are doing most of the work at the garden — watering, pulling weeds and harvesting the produce. The adults simply monitor the work and ensure the children are observing garden etiquette.

Mejia said what was most important is that the kids are excited about it, and that couldn’t be more true. In a time when many children spend their time indoors on electronics, the young gardeners at Ebenezer are learning a variety of lessons — the science of a garden, the greatness of the great outdoors, how to grow their own food and eat healthy.

“I think it’s important (to teach them) that vegetables don’t just come from the grocery store — people have to grow them,” Mejia said.

The vegetables support Ebenezer’s food bank as well as a food bank in Isle of Wight County. At Thanksgiving, the church will open its doors for a community dinner, and the children will help cook and serve the sweet potatoes they grew.

Perhaps that — empathy and service to their fellow men — is the most nutritious lesson of all for these young children’s souls.