Educational as well as other human development strategies are employed in horticulture as a means to teach a range of transferable skills that facilitate the participant’s success in a variety of environments and future endeavors. Expectations are held for the participants that include the development of horticulture skills in addition to other skill sets that facilitate success in a wide variety of situations outside of the garden. Gardens that provide a setting for community and environmental horticulture provide a dynamic interactive environment wherein plants are grown, but where people are the most important crop. Some examples of these transferable skills are as follows:
· Self esteem and confidence are built through encouraging participants to try out new experiences, make mistakes, fail, learn, and experience daily successes. Horticulture activities emphasize elbow grease (sweat equity), not a green thumb (magic). Challenging work that is meaningful to self, society, and the environment provides a sense of purpose and value to the participants.
· Leadership, assertiveness, motivation, and initiative are cultivated in participants while they learn to be self starters, initiate additional tasks, and solve problems through communicating with others working in the garden setting, including students, teachers, and volunteers from the community.
· The ability to discern and differentiate between textures, sizes, quantities, colors, smells, forms, tools, plants, and more, is developed in a broad range of activities that involve life processes and diverse materials that stimulate and engage the senses.
· Fine and gross motor abilities are developed through participating in a range of physical activities that improve coordination, dexterity, strength, speed, and accuracy.
· Environmental awareness and sensitivity are built through interaction with living organisms and systems, orientation to season, response to weather patterns and ambient environmental conditions, and adaptation to geography and micro-environments. An appreciation of natural science is cultivated. An artful sense of magic, mystery, and poetry is cultivated by having the opportunity to listen to the “songs of the rolling earth.”
· Responsibility and stewardship through caring for the environment and community place are cultivated through daily (individual as well as team) responsibilities. Opportunities are created to “give fruit before one’s eyes”.
· Consistency and the ability to complete tasks in organized sequences are developed through participation in routine tasks that have clearly defined standards of quality and timing. Self-discipline and best practices are established.
· Working in an environment outside of walls, participants make independent decisions, by thinking independently as well as cooperating through teamwork.
· Productivity and quality standards are reinforced through involvement in structured goal oriented activities, daily routines, schedules, natural consequences, consistency, support, and limit setting.
· Safety skills and prevention of accidents are developed in emergency drills and routine exercises, learning proper body mechanics as well as proper lifting and stooping techniques, and emphasis on an orderly and clean workplace.
· Positive work habits, behaviors, and attitudes are encouraged. Emphasis is placed on attendance and punctuality, responsiveness to supervision, self-regulation, and positive reinforcement during work activities.
· Characteristics such as creativity, communication, resourcefulness, adaptation, and innovation are nourished while participants are exposed to new ideas, activities, people, situations, and challenges.
· Adapting to change is developed through transitioning through different tasks that respond to the environment and life processes. Traits such as versatility, creativity, and flexibility are fostered by the ambient occurrences of natural systems and processes. Participants learn by doing, and to “think on their feet.”
Read “A Song of the Rolling Earth” as well as other poems by Walt Whitman that capture some of the inspiration and values cultivated in experiences of nature, earth, soil. For example: “Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons, It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” Compiled by Wolfram Alderson 2007