“April showers bring May flowers.” I have heard this saying many times in my life. However, California is experiencing an extreme drought and this year, April did not bring many showers. For Earth Day, I had discussions with students about what they can do to help the planet we call home. Students from all grades came up with an assortment of ideas. A kindergartner suggested we turn off the lights when we leave the room. A second grader wanted to pick up litter and recycle more. A fourth grader suggested we take shorter showers and do less laundry, and a fifth grader recommended we catch grey water and use it to water plants. It was obvious that this was a topic students had discussed before. Many of them had really great ideas of ways they could personally make a difference. I believe that it is important to give students strategies so they can make conscious choices in their day to day lives. It is also important to raise environmental awareness, especially now, when there are mandatory water conservation rules being implemented across the state.
Water is an integral part of the school garden. Without it we could not grow healthy fruits and vegetables with our students. Therefore, it is very important to discuss conservation along with nutrition and science in our lessons. When I started working at Bronco Urban Gardens, I thought that the school gardens would simply be a tool to influence students to eat more fruits and vegetables. However, I quickly realized that the garden is a tool for many other reasons. Students come to understand how foods are grown from seed to harvest. They are able to spend valuable time outdoors searching for ladybugs, watching butterflies and seeing the occasional hummingbird. They learn about composting through hands on experiences with worms. The garden is a gateway to so many levels of knowledge, and it is a gateway to understanding our planet and coming to respect it.
There haven’t been very many April showers this year, but some of the May flowers will still bloom, and so will more conversations about California’s drought and other environmental issues. Everything in our environment is connected, just like everything in our communities are connected. Making conscious choices to save water can positively impact the environment, but it can also impact our communities by starting conversations and making connections. Earth Day was a great way to start the conversation, but it is important to remember that Earth Day is every day.