Seven year-old me was an overly confident artist, an enthusiastic jump-roper, and an expert snow fort engineer (yeah, I’m from Wisconsin). But California youth dream of frosty hideouts, too. Last weekend, my friend Damita compared Veggielution’s kitchen to Elsa’s ice castle while she hunted for bugs in the bed where we were planting violas.
Veggielution is an outdoor playground that has no limits in the mind of a 7 year old. Is it just me, or do all children love secret places to hide? Maybe it’s because you can be an explorer, and find something no one has ever seen before. Maybe it’s because you can make anywhere your ice castle, with a little imagination. Kid-sized spaces foster a sense of ownership for youth. And as the owner, you set the scene and make the rules.
When families visit our Youth Garden, kids flock to the playhouse, sneak into the grape teepee, and scamper into the willow dome hideout. The garden naturally provides a space for learning through play that connects kids from different cultures, backgrounds, and levels of income. Barriers don’t exist in our outdoor playground. Maybe they don’t exist for 7 year-olds at all.
Lessons taught in our Youth Garden are important for all ages. With all the responsibilities and stress in our adult lives, don’t forget that you were once a carefree 7 year-old. And when you notice all the things that disconnect us from each other and our natural environment, don’t forget what that connect us. Sharing a meal. A bright future for our children. The joy that comes from digging in the garden. Spending time outside on a sunny day.