The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree

Anna Marsh Diary – November 28th

I spent my childhood climbing trees and making mud-pies, always outside until the moment my mom dragged my brothers and I in for dinner. And this time spent cultivating a relationship with nature was, in my opinion, fundamental to my current interest in sustainable agriculture and environmental problems in general. ‘Cause when dirt gets stuck beneath your fingernails, it stays there.

But with the increasing accessibility of television, video games, and other electronics, children are spending less and less time in the outdoors. And detachment from the natural world, especially during the early stages of a child’s development, can have serious consequences. Relationships have been drawn between obesity and attention deficit disorders, for instance, and the amount of time that a child spends playing outside. But what I find to be most concerning about a world in which young people are constantly “plugged in,” is the threat to preparing the next generation of environmental stewards. Who’s going to stand between the tractors and trees when computer screens are in the way?

Casa Adubada’s first workshop, Arte e Jardinagem para Bebês e Crianças (Gardening and Art for Babies and Children), in connection with Canteiros Coletivos movement, presented a solution to this problem by bringing together about a dozen children from all over Salvador to get their hands dirty and plant. Each kid, with the help of their parents, Debora, and Thiago, got to decorate an empty milk carton, fill it with soil, and plant a sunflower seed. It was amazing watching all of the children, even the more timid ones, dig through the beds with enthusiasm and joy. Hopefully everyone left the workshop with not only a new flower in hand, but also a reinvigorated connection to nature and interest in helping plants grow.

Casa Adubada sets a good example for parents and educators looking to get their kids offline and back to Earth. For the basic and fundamental act of planting a seed and watching it grow can go a long way. No, one sunflower isn’t going to prepare a child to take on climate change or our world’s other greatest environmental problems. But what a single plant can do is get young people going along the right trajectory, a path directed towards social and ecological harmony. After all, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.