Growing sweetie tomatoes with growing minds
BY CATE HENDERSON
Train up a child in the way s/he should go: and when s/he is old, s/he will not depart from it.
The Heirloom Seed Sanctuary gets a Queen’s student for community practicum most years and it’s such a pleasure to work with educators who see the value of seeds and passing on this wisdom to the children they teach. This spring, we had the great pleasure of hosting Darrell Maw, Queen’s University Outdoor Experiential Education student.
Each education student takes their own tack and the resources they develop in their short three weeks makes the curriculum better each year.
Darrell mostly worked with the Loving Spoonful’s GROW project to teach tomato seed saving in elementary schools. Altogether, he reached 230 kids. He used wonderful curriculum prepared for us by former Queen’s teacher candidate (now teacher) Marissa Kidd, who was able to include the important concepts of biodiversity, biology, storytelling and history. He added a couple of very useful activities to reinforce messages of food security and nutrition.
Darrell also did a presentation about the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary’s work to the whole school École Cathédrale, using videos created by photojournalism teacher Dan Williams and our very own Mike Hammond! In addition, about 80 students participated in rotating workshops at the “Youth Mentoring Youth Sustainability Fair,” at which Darrell presented the tomato seed-saving curriculum four times through the morning, to rapt groups of children who gave him their complete attention.
Because of the time of year we had to use storebought tomatoes, but he incorporated that seasonality into his presentation and explained why they must save seeds from their own heirloom tomatoes when ripe, followed by the activity of planting their own seed of our variety called “Sweetie,” for them to take home.
The collaboration of the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary and the Loving Spoonful’s GROW project has been an annual event for four years now, and is growing in popularity every year, with more and more teachers signing up their classes for presentations.
Hopefully this is one ministry that will sustain itself through this collaboration well into the future. After all, it is our youth who will most need these skills as they could find it more difficult to find healthy food that can adapt to climate change and other challenges in the future. We can train them now to honour healthy home-grown, adaptive food, so they will carry that with them faithfully.