A “Hole” Lot of Dirt

The last few weeks we have been super busy digging, hauling (dirt, sand, aggregate, and mulch), and planting. Thanks to my son for starting the hole where the rowboat will be installed, Jamie’s son and husband for expanding the hole, and Mary’s son for (almost) finishing the hole. There was a whole lot of dirt in that hole!

I believe I’ve already consumed enough dirt this past month to cover the next couple of years. I know, I know, as a horticulturist I should say “soil” not “dirt” but my clothes are full of dirt, even my nostrils and ears are full of dirt from the constant wind at Avery Point and all the digging we’ve been doing. There is a saying that we all eat a peck of dirt before we die. Farmers say we should eat a pound of dirt a year for good health. In some cultures, people eat dirt for its mineral nutrients (clay soils) and for self-vaccination against some disease. Lord knows there are a lot of bacterial strains in soil. Some say that’s why kids instinctively eat dirt but it’s still rather alarming to see your toddler put a handful of the stuff in their mouth.

I’m not too keen on ingesting soil these days, especially with all of the contaminants we put on and around our plants in most urban areas . . . pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, etc. We spray so much toxic stuff that it is “literally” sickening. I’ll try and stay off my soap-box about bioaccumulation and pervasiveness in the environment but let’s just stop this practice please, especially since I’m one of the ones eating it.

Playspaces for children should be pesticide-free so our children don’t have to worry about ingesting chemicals. I’ve always told my son that dirt isn’t dirty, it’s the germs he brings home from school that cause sickness. I think washing your hands after being in public spaces is a higher priority than washing them after a bout of nature, but then again, I use organic growing practices. Children love to get dirty not “soil-y” and that is their right as children—let them be filthy little nature urchins!

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had children visit the garden and they love it! Tiffany, a dedicated Coast Guard volunteer, and mother, brought her children for a day of gardening. She and her girls helped me plant and mulch sedum around the waterfall. Tiffany had brought little gardening gloves for each of them. They even did some planting, hauling hoses and helping give the tour to the Grasso Tech students that showed up to check on the progress. Those gloves were off “lickety-split” though, once it was play-time. They ran, they rolled, they splashed, and they delighted in dirty hands and feet. Success!

  • Christian preps a load of sand to haul uphill to the site of the rowboat
    Christian preps a load of sand to haul uphill to the site of the rowboat

Volunteerism gravels the way to community building

Friday, May 17th, was awesome! The day was filled with wonderful people volunteering to help build the garden. In the photos, you can see the joy of giving and being a part of something bigger than ourselves and together we accomplished so much! Mary and Jeff stopped by my house to get rocks for the waterfall so I could fit Lulu and her friend Gretchen (a young shepherd-mix that I was dog-sitting) in my car. Lulu once again gave up her sacred passenger seat, now filled with more plants, and moved to the backseat, also filled with plants. Jeff, a Pfizer employee, took the “day off” from work, which really meant an 8-hour day of alternate work, setting 119 seventy-five-pound pavers into the labyrinth edging. Now that is a dedicated spouse, a true friend, and a socially conscious individual!

While Jeff put more personal hours toward getting a 40-hour individual grant from Pfizer for the garden, another group worked toward a Pfizer grant in which a team of five or more employees must work a total of 15 hours together. Anna Silberberg, also a Pfizer employee, set up this volunteer event and requested help from her co-workers. We had about eight volunteers show up! A Coast Guard crew of volunteers also arrived on that afternoon: the three who had helped that Tuesday and the eight who’d had to postpone. We had a half-dozen wheelbarrows and a dozen or so shovels. Everyone got to work and the day was a blur of activity.

Volunteers helped transport and lay the pavers into the labyrinth, dig flat stones in around the waterfall so children can safely enter the falls, and plant native grasses around the falls and in the meadow. Other volunteers got to work moving heavy road-base aggregate to build up the main pathway through the garden. The Coast Guard got that herculean effort done in no time by setting up a wheelbarrow brigade.

Tiffany, a member of the Coast Guard and an amateur photographer, took some wonderful photos. She captured the essence of volunteerism and why we do it. One of the great benefits to organizations, corporations, and small businesses, is the team building that results from this type of group volunteerism. A project like this gets people out of the office and into the “trenches,” working together over a short period of time to accomplish a goal. This cooperative effort yields teamwork, problem-solving, learning, and laughter, not to mention the satisfaction of accomplishment and service.

I just want to take my hat off to organizations like the Coast Guard and Pfizer who allow, and even encourage, their employees to participate in volunteerism. Pfizer even provides grants for its retirees to participate in community service projects. That they believe so strongly in this ideal sets them apart and makes them a great example for other companies to follow.  The Coast Guard Academy also actively engages their members and challenges them to get as many hours as possible. As an American, I am so proud of their commitment and as a citizen, I am so thankful for their support. We will all benefit from the hard work these volunteers put in, especially our children, and through this type of service we are truly becoming a stronger community. Thank you Coast Guard and Pfizer volunteers!

  • Jeff hand-tamps any aggregate that was loosened during the edging process. Now ready for Coast Guard volunteers to help carry pavers over!
    Jeff hand-tamps any aggregate that was loosened during the edging process. Now ready for Coast Guard volunteers to help carry pavers over!

A-Mazing Labyrinth Making

Now, where was I? Oh yes, setting the table. With the labyrinth base ready for action, Charlie and Jacob returned the next day to lay out the edging and create the labyrinth pathways. Vinny had told us a brilliant way to do this which was far more efficient than we would have done otherwise. It made screeding the sand so easy and the edging more stable. You would think this particular job (other than pounding massive spike-nails into the heavily compacted aggregate by hand) would be easy. I assure you that it was not. This was a serious cognitive exercise and I hope that Charlie will thank Mary and me later for keeping his retired brain nimble. Jacob is Mary’s son who just graduated from UConn (Go Huskies!) and who, while able to calculate angles and perform geometric feats, has still not received a job offer for those of you needing an incredibly smart, dedicated, and fun business associate. (Jacob is interviewing with numerous companies so act quickly if you want to snap him up!)

(A little aside: do you know the difference between a maze and a labyrinth? That’s the question I like asking the students when I do presentations about the garden. Some hands inevitably come up and sometimes the answer is close to being right but not quite. I always ask if anyone’s gotten lost in a corn-maze and explain that in a maze there are dead-ends. In a labyrinth there is just one continuous path that usually leads to a center then returns back on itself. Many times a labyrinth is made using concentric circles. We chose a pattern which looks like a maze but in which young children won’t get lost. We want them to be able to navigate the labyrinth by themselves to increase self-confidence. This is accomplished by risk-taking and adventure in a safe setting in which they can succeed.)

Laying out the pathway of our labyrinth was actually like being in a maze: it was easy to get lost. The process of counting how many 18”x18” pavers up from the entrance, and how many rows over, and trying to remember which length was a walking path and which was to be a planting bed, as well as where the ends of each section were, took some serious mental concentration. Then, of course, you had to step out of the maze and stand back at a distance, counting and measuring again. This exercise took two days. Jacob needed to leave at 3:00 on Wednesday but, due to his fierce dedication, he stayed until around 5:00. I joked that the labyrinth was actually the “Hotel California”— you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave! Sure enough, Charlie and Jacob were back at it on Thursday, determined to beat this puzzle . . . and they did!

It really was cool watching them create it, measuring with a T-square, and making sure that there was exactly the amount of space for the pavers and not any more or less. We needed near-perfection in order to make it easier to actually lay the heavy pavers. Did I mention that they worked through the pouring rain? Well, that’s dedication, my friends!

Meanwhile, I had run to Pride’s Corner in Lebanon to pick up native grasses that they donated (thank you Prides!). Pfizer volunteers would be planting them the next day. On the way back I noticed a small business, Construction Materials Inc. in North Lebanon.  I wanted some flat rocks to dig into the soil around the waterfall to create safe pathways for entry into the falls. Grasses, on the other hand, would be used to dissuade children from entering at spots that were less desirable entry points. I decided to pop in and see if this business would donate a few rocks. I told the proprietor about the garden and he was impressed with the idea of allowing kids into the falls as most people try and keep kids out of them. I told him that this garden was the opposite of most, that we want children to go off the paths, climb on the boulders, pick the flowers, and smell the leaves. He too believed that we need to get kids off their electronic devices and out in nature. He showed me a pile of perfectly-shaped stones and told me to take whichever ones I wanted. How’s that for the universe providing?!

I am stopping here so we can post all of the labyrinth creation photos, my car full of grass and rocks, and my dog Lulu’s disgusted look for taking up her sacred passenger space with plants. There is so much to share (thank God) that these posts get lengthy. Stay tuned for my post about Friday, when the Coast Guard Academy and Pfizer volunteers came and kicked some serious dirt!

  • Jacob uses a screed board to level the sand in the edging channel while Charlie checks the fit of a paver
    Jacob uses a screed board to level the sand in the edging channel while Charlie checks the fit of a paver

Everything Will Be Okay

I have to tell you that I wrote an awesome blog post last Wednesday. It was first inspired by fear and then gratitude after having my first-yet garden meltdown and my friends coming to the rescue. Maybe it was like the fish that got away, but it was really big, I mean really good, and I deleted it by accident. Do you know how your computer just shuts down on its own and auto-save captures where you left off? Well, you have to click on a button when the computer comes back on and that’s where I got into trouble (sob). So all the “lessons learned” that I was going to share are gone. All the real-time anguish about having to get the labyrinth base “table-top” perfect, gone. All the words of wisdom that I took to heart from the paver manufacturer and the best mason in my world, Coast Guard Vinny, gone. But, luckily, gratitude does remain!

So I’m going to start with Vince, who I call CG Vinny to protect his identity from other needy people like me. I won’t go into the details (because I already did and then deleted them) but basically, he came to the garden on a Sunday with his wife and four children (how he even made time for us is a miracle in itself) and assessed the pathways, the crab claws/legs, and the body of the labyrinth. Vinny gave us so much advice our heads were spinning. There were three of us, Mary, her husband Jeff, and me. Between the three of us and Mary’s copious note-taking, we were able to follow his advice which saved so much time and effort it was ridiculous. Vinny’s many years of experience translated into a labyrinth that will be sturdy and long-lasting. I am so thankful.

Tuesday morning, after texting Vinny the correct measurements for the height of the edging and photos of the pavers placed in it for emphasis (yes, I had messed up the initial calculations) he assured me that we were good and that gravity was our friend (at least the paver’s friend). Whew! High stakes! With Vinny unable to make it to the site, friends Charlie, Dean, and Jacob (my rescuers) set about helping to create the table top. We did everything Vinny had told us earlier, measuring from the top down to get our height, running lines from the highest elevation, and swiveling the set line in every direction. The guys hauled wheelbarrow load after load of heavy road base while Mary and I raked and measured. Then the guys re-measured and tamped the whole thing with a commercial plate compactor, measuring, adding, and compacting some more. Holy cow was it a lot of work to flatten that 20’x20’ space equally! In the end, we SET that table! (Fist pump!)

I was expecting approximately ten volunteers from the Coast Guard that Tuesday afternoon but I especially needed help laying 75-pound pavers in the labyrinth, which wasn’t even close to ready for them (another reason for my meltdown and the friend bailout). I wasn’t even sure we’d have the base prepared by the time they got there in the afternoon (it wasn’t), let alone having the edging installed (anguished sigh). On my way to the site, however, I’d received a phone call telling me that something unexpected came up and that eight of the USGC volunteers had to postpone until later in the week. I’d almost passed out with relief. Postponing the brawn was the universe at work for sure!

The three CG volunteers who were able to come (brawny but few) started digging out the main pathway, leveling it off, and filling it with an aggregate base. This was hard work since the soil was heavy and wet, but needed to be done for the geo-grid pavers that are to be installed within the next couple of weeks. So Tuesday ended up being such a perfect day. What had I been stressed about? Charlie reminded me of the saying sometimes attributed to John Lennon: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” On that note, this blog post has to end because it’s too long and that’s okay because it’s not the end!

  • Annette’s panic moment: is the edging tall enough for sand and pavers?!
    Annette’s panic moment: is the edging tall enough for sand and pavers?!

Nathan Hale Art Everywhere!

Last week, fourth- and fifth-grade art students from New London’s Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School finished their magnificent mosaics for the amphitheater—yay! Art teacher Jeffrey Wolfson developed the Art Everywhere curriculum to have students create art that can be installed “everywhere” in our community. Last year Jeff’s class created an outdoor, glass-tile mural for their school’s courtyard with the help of two well-known mosaic artists, Gwen Basilica and Deb Aldo. The mosaics for our project, done with porcelain tiles, was a little different from that installation so there was a new skill set to teach and many new students learning to mosaic.

Beginning in February, the students developed their designs, did practice paper mosaics, and even did a small brick-sized mosaic to practice technique. Gwen and I went in to assist when we could, but it was Mary (see Something about Mary blog) who took on the task of working with the children four days a week. Mary worked with Jeff to teach and then guide the students through mosaic-making, keeping them focused on things like space between tiles, staying within the border of the paver size, finding the right piece of the “puzzle” to insert to execute the design. When it was time to work on each mosaic for the amphitheater, Mary helped them move from concept to design with all of its challenges. For example, one child didn’t have room for an octopus with eight legs, so they kept removing legs until it became a pentapus!

Mary clearly missed her calling as a teacher but made up for it by being a diligent mosaic mentor. She also took on the sole responsibility for thin-setting and then grouting all 72 student-design mosaics and 66 mosaics of the color wheel element of the amphitheater (yikes!)  Not wanting to expose the students to the caustic chemicals in the thin set, Mary developed a different method, having them use diluted school glue to adhere the tiles to paper. Once the mosaics were completed, Mary put mosaic tape on the face of the files, soaked off the paper backing, flipped the mosaics over and applied the adhesive, along with mosaic mesh. Once that was dry, she flipped them over and grouted them. Mucho Trabajo!

This project was a ton of work for everyone involved, but having the children participate in the garden’s creation is key to making it a true community garden. Sometimes we take for granted the things we have in our community. Being part of the creative process, however, gives each citizen ownership or at least a connection to the space. Giving elementary school students the opportunity to contribute in such a visible way should be empowering. Having teachers that are willing to take on, or seek out these opportunities as Mr. Wolfson has, is remarkable and should be applauded. This is one great way of teaching citizenship and stewardship.

The kids will be coming out to Avery Point for a field trip to see how their artwork fits into the garden. I’m smiling as I write this because it is exactly what I envisioned when I applied for the grant. I wanted our community’s children to create something special for the children who come after them and to learn through doing. I hope that the NHAMS students will feel pride in what they have created and how they played a role in the creation of the garden. I also hope they learned about the garden itself and why it’s important to spend time in nature. Finally, I hope that they and their families will visit the garden often. Maybe they’ll even come back with their children someday and share with them the lessons they learned.

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Earthfest CT 2019

Yesterday was Earthfest CT 2019 at McCook’s Park in Niantic. We had a great turnout despite the wet weather. We had a booth “Neuron’s in Nature” to tell everyone about the cognitive garden and the need to get children in nature for sensory stimulation. I had four high school-aged helpers who showed the children how to make neurons with pipe cleaners, beads, and pom poms. The kids loved making the neurons.  Even the older children enjoyed making them using beads with letters for their names. Some even became neuron bracelets.

Grasso Tech students had grown the marigolds for the children to take home and they were gorgeous, healthy plants. What a great biotech program they have at Grasso. Their greenhouse is amazing! The plants were a big hit, especially with Mother’s Day coming up. Plans were made by many parents and children to plant them together. So the children got to take home a neuron and a little piece of nature.

I had planned to have some coloring pages but with the wet, rainy weather and plenty for the kids to do, I figured I’d wait until the CT Family Festival in New London on June 8. Coloring pages are being drawn right now by a very talented student at the Dual Language and Art Middle School in Waterford. They will be ready soon and I think it will really help spread the word about getting children in nature.

Thanks to all who helped at our booth and to those who stopped by to see what we are all about.

  • Kids making neuron models out of pom-poms and pipe cleaners
    Kids making neuron models out of pom-poms and pipe cleaners

A Garden of Eden

Peter Minuitti, Director of the Landscape Architecture program at UConn and my third mentor on this project, once asked his students, “What is a Garden of Eden?” Being one of his students and a Catholic, I was sure it had something to do with a lush green paradise, maybe with fruit trees, and perhaps even some wildlife (yes I was thinking about snakes).  But it didn’t, at least not necessarily. According to Peter, a “Garden of Eden” must touch each of one’s five senses. If it doesn’t affect all of them, then the few that it touches, it must do so strongly. There were other prerequisites to meet in the definition given that day, but to me, this was the cornerstone: in essence, sensory stimulation. The idea was not to just be an observer but to be touched, affected, perhaps even changed by the encounter.

When I visited the Alhambra in Spain more than two decades ago, it touched me like no other. It wasn’t just the plants that struck me, but also the design. The Moorish arches, the symmetry, the pools and runnels of water, the hardscaping, the statuary . . . the unbelievable strength of the place captivated me. Years later, as I sat in that lecture hall, I finally understood why the Alhambra had affected me so profoundly. It not only touched all of my senses, it slammed into me as if trying to awaken something. Putting the pieces together, I realized that this feeling was something I wanted to recreate for others. It took more course work and two internships to understand who I wanted to create gardens for and how I arrived at creating this children’s garden.

Working on the Avery Point garden design with Peter and Natalie Minuitti, and Tao Wu from the LA Department is such an incredible experience for me. I feel so lucky to have that kind of guidance and support! Today they showed me the 3D model that Tao is building of the garden. It is so tiny and perfect, even though it’s not quite done yet.  Each little detail is painstakingly cut out and glued on so that others will be able to see the garden as a whole. I’ll be able to take this model to the different libraries and events to promote the garden and talk about the importance of sensory experiences in nature.

As Tao is literally “putting the pieces together,” on the model, we as a community, are putting the pieces together in the garden. It is my hope that this garden will touch those who visit in some way . . . to inspire, to heal, to calm, to excite, or just maybe to create a sense of wonder so that they may indeed feel as though they are in a Garden of Eden.

  • Tao places trees (to be planted in the future) into the model
    Tao places trees (to be planted in the future) into the model

A Nod to Sod

I rolled up sod yesterday morning and began laying it over a large patch of dirt that had been grass before the heavy machinery and big dumpsters sat on it leaving it a muddy mess. The day was cold and overcast.  I was preparing to create the entrance path. We had marked it out weeks ago and Burnett’s Landscaping of Salem had cut the sod, but we had left it in place for erosion control, knowing April showers would soon arrive.

In this space was sod that I had rolled up a couple of weeks ago, now a yellow-green with chlorosis (sorry grass!). Then there was the sod that I was rolling up that morning which had to be removed with a pitchfork. So much time had passed since it’d been cut, the roots were growing back into the soil. Some of those pieces rolled up with some coaxing but others had to be ripped out of the ground, coming out in different shapes and sizes. I had used spray paint to mark the pathways and, when I sliced through the grass, some sod pieces wore the white paint marks.

As I moved the sod over to the muddy earth on the other side of the sidewalk I’d look for a piece that was a triangular shape, or wider at one end, to fit into a particular space. At some point, I realized that I was creating a mosaic of sod, a jigsaw puzzle of different colored/shaped pieces and some with the white paint which stood out against the green. I was delighted!

The sod mosaic made me consider the garden as a whole, with each contribution to the garden—the waterfall, the sandpit, the pollinator and meadow plants, etc.—creating a mosaic of sorts. The labyrinth, with its 119 artful mosaic pavers and the amphitheater with its mosaic pavers and color wheel are literally small mosaics within a larger mosaic, within the garden which is itself a mosaic. Each bench, each piece of art, everything that goes into a garden helps to connect the separate parts. Together they give the garden structure, beauty, and meaning.

This past week has seen more community members donating time and materials. Cash True Value in East Lyme donated all the hoses, sprayers, and automatic timers to help the garden get established. My mentors, Petie Reed and Rich Oliver from Perennial Harmony in East Lyme, came out in the bitterly cold rain to help lay out 240 plants donated by Judge’s Farm of Old Lyme. My psychology mentor Dr. Jamie Kleinman and I had already spent hours moving, what seemed like a sea of sod, out of the pollinator garden that day in preparation for the plants.  Several UConn students also helped move sod and dirt over the past two weeks—a big shout out to Zhao and Isabel who made our lives that much easier as a result of their volunteerism! The community is also a mosaic—people of all different ages, backgrounds, nationalities—and all of us are filling the garden with a piece of ourselves and our spirit of community. For all of these connections, I am thankful. And for the beautiful sod mosaic that I made with my hard labor, though it will (hopefully) even out to a single carpet of green, I am also grateful.

  • Annette with rolls and rolls of sod!
    Annette with rolls and rolls of sod!

More on the Mosaics

Since late March, Waterford High School art teacher Shelly Concascia has been working with her art students to finish up their mosaic projects. This past week was spring break and on Monday morning—on her vacation!—Mrs. Concascia went to WHS with her daughter Addie to grout almost 50 mosaics. Mary and I met her there along with Jeff Wolfson, an art teacher at Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School in New London. Mr. Wolfson came to help and learn the grouting process, as his fifth grade students are also finishing up their mosaics for the garden’s amphitheater. It took the four of us from 9am to 2pm to grout that many mosaics.

On Wednesday starting at 7:00 am, Mrs. Concascia, Mary, and I were back again, this time to flip the mosaics over, remove the tape and templates, and apply a layer of thinset on the backs of the mosaics. We wanted to make sure all of the tile pieces were properly adhered and to rake a layer over the back for uniformity. This will be important for when we adhere the mosaics to the pavers installed in the labyrinth. Again, we were there for several hours! (Or at least Mrs. Concascia and Mary were. I had to run to the site to lay out tarps and meet the trucks carrying three separate loads of materials, and then run home and get more thinset.) Again, I seriously had no idea how much work these mosaics would be!

I believe Mrs. Concascia went in one more day over her vacation to clean up her classroom and to prepare the mosaics for her students so they could see the transformation. That probably included wiping them down with a damp sponge to get any remaining grout haze off, scraping the hardened grout and thinset off the sides, etc. The mosaics are absolutely stunning. They are mostly 18”x18” with one mosaic in two separate 9”x18” pieces with jellyfish tentacles shooting off at an angle. Gorgeous! The attached photos do not do them justice. Once they are in the labyrinth and sealed, they will be stunning!

I’m just so impressed with Mrs. Concascia’s dedication to her job, to her students, and to her art. She spent so much of her vacation up in her classroom working on these mosaics, and she did it joyously. Teaching the students this exquisite and accessible art form was her gift to them. The mosaics that she supervised and helped to create will also be a gift to the entire community. I have no doubt that they will bring joy to many people who walk the paths of the labyrinth.

I hope that Mrs. Concascia’s students can see the dedication of their teacher and that they will appreciate their own role in creating something so valuable to our community.

  • Shelly and Jeff grouting
    Shelly and Jeff grouting

Scout the Berm-Whale and the Boy Scouts who Shaped Him

This past Saturday several Boy Scout troops joined together to work in the Cognitive Garden. They were asked to help and came without question, many without really knowing what the garden was about, such is their sense of community. One of the best things about learning through service is the exposure to something that may never have been on one’s radar. Learning why it’s important to get children outside is a goal of the garden and something the Scouts know very well. The fact that they are helping to create a space for our youngest citizens to provide a connection to nature, makes it even more fitting that the Scouts are involved in this project.

The Boy Scouts learn through service, but they also learn by doing, especially in their outdoor educational programs where they participate in activities like hiking and camping. These activities allow Scouts to be immersed in nature, learning to conquer challenges and acquiring life skills that lead to resiliency and self-reliance. Those same ideals are what I hope this garden will exemplify for our very young. The children who visit will have the opportunity to learn through “doing” just like our Scouts learn.

While the Scouts may be traversing steep trails and rocky portages, young children can climb the garden’s steep hills, negotiate the labyrinth, or explore the meadow and pollinator garden. The garden will offer an environment that encourages risk-taking and self-reliance as children try to climb boulders by themselves, cooperation as they play with other children in the sandbox, and a sense of freedom as they roll down the grassy slopes and berms.

Just as the Scoutmaster and leaders expose kids to nature’s wonders, this garden will provide a safe space where younger children can immerse themselves in nature under the guidance of parents or caregivers. This garden is for everyone but it’s designed to specifically target children ages 0 to 7, during a critical period of cognitive and developmental growth. Having the opportunity to learn through their senses in a rich natural environment will help to create a more complex brain structure and help them to meet developmental milestones.

As the Scoutmaster guides their troops and encourages them to meet and overcome challenges by themselves to build confidence. So, too, must the teachers and parents of toddlers offer guidance and, at the same time, allow the children to take risks. This is so important for childhood development, psychological well-being, and building a sense of self as well as self-confidence.

The Boy Scouts are an institution in our society because they teach our children so much about life, morality, ethics, camaraderie, cooperation, and caring. But they also get our children outdoors and they teach our children, our future leaders, to be stewards of the environment. We need to instill in our children, even at the youngest ages, a love of nature and a feeling of connection to it. Having the Scouts help build the garden is so fitting and I am so thankful that they, and their parents, are involved.

Thanks to all of you who helped move wheelbarrows full of aggregate to fill the labyrinth and spent time in the “pit” with rakes, the plate compactor, and measuring sticks. And to all who helped form and cover the “berm-whale” with sod.  He will henceforth be known as “Scout” in honor of the Scouts who helped to create him. And thanks to the Scoutmasters and leaders who cut down the cedar trees and made “seats” for the amphitheater.  I am so happy that you are helping create this amazing space for our community!

  • Annette explains what needs to be done for the day
    Annette explains what needs to be done for the day