What have you learned so far during your time as Garden Coordinator?
It’s a very unique being in education spaces and gardening with kids. It’s different from my other job as a fine gardener [working in private gardens]. It’s so much more exciting to me to see kids interacting with the plants with wonder and excitement and joy. I’ve been learning about the balance between caring for that joy and creating opportunities for that, and also trying to take care of the plants and make sure they grow…That’s a balance that I’m getting better at striking as a gardener who likes to garden with and for young people.
I feel like I’ve been learning a lot about Capital City and how it is really different from a lot of places I’ve worked. There are so many different people here and I’m learning to navigate the different campuses. That’s been a big thing I’ve been learning about, how to do lessons in the various campuses and with different ages. It’s really exciting to me there are 3-year-olds here and also 18-year-olds. Something that excited me last week was seeing how the high schoolers can be mentors and resources for the younger students.
The garden has been set up so intentionally. I’ve been learning more about perennial species of plants.
Why do you think it's beneficial for schools like Capital City to have dedicated garden space?
It makes so much sense to me. I wish all schools had garden spaces because gardens are such a rich and special space for learning in lots of different modalities, learning problem solving, negotiation. We’ve been doing stuff that’s just about the plants but also about building and engineering. Garden spaces can be really magical spaces for learning and falling in love with learning too. Some schools I see in the area do a really beautiful job with integrating the garden into lots of different subjects — like integrating the garden’s produce into the cafeteria. I know that’s the vision, to some extent, of my role is to plug the garden into the curriculum better.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I think getting to witness the excitement and joy of students connecting with nature is my favorite part. There was a child I met here on the first day and he was so excited to show me bugs. I just saw him last week and he said, “Come here gardener Thea, I have a bug to show you!” Those are my favorite parts.
Do you have any hopes and visions for the garden for the future?
I’m excited to support a program where youth from Capital City take the lead in land-based stewardship while at Capital City and after, go on to long lives of commitment to nature and caring for each other. I have a vision for the Edible Forest Garden to grow and thrive adding to a diverse forest ecosystem as it was designed to. The CCPCS gardens, whether it’s the forest garden or the raised beds, are sensory, interactive places where students can be safe and engaged, and where they develop skills that enrich their lives.
Is there anything about yourself you think the Capital City community would be interested to know?
I bet they can guess that I love to cook, and I love to eat vegetables.