Children are so very inquisitive about everything, sometimes to the complete distraction of their parents. I can only imagine what it might have been like, to be my parents, as I remember being insistently curious about the name of and reason for every plant in my general area. From tulips, to dandelions, to “that’s just a weed, honey….” I wanted to meet them all.
My adult gardening adventures really took off when my own children were small. Spending time together planting seeds and seedlings, counting worms, collecting leaves for identification, harvesting tomatoes and wild greens, we three learned side-by-side about the wonder, the serenity, the excitement of the natural world around us. Their little hands and unlimited curiosity led me on a journey like no other, as, through their eyes, I saw the world expand, as if for the first time.
Children are the very heart of any Community. Like a fern unfurling in the spring, a child comes into being and begins to learn about and question the world around it. Opportunities for learning are so very critical at this time, as they help the child to understand their role, their place, their path, in this life.
Family vacations can present perfect moments to take advantage of hands’ on educational experiences as they make themselves available. Learning that is also fun tends to engender a child’s craving for more, and thus a link is forged.
For this reason, and because we are all parents, aunts, step-parents ourselves, we take great pride, each year, at the Midwest Herb Fest, in offering fun, learning, and exploration for Kids of All Ages. Our Sprouts Track, as it has come to be called, combines games, active learning, free time, and adventure. From “Wildcraft” group game-a-thons, to nature crafts with Linda Spahr, to team building fun with our labyrinth leader, Jackie Lakey, and our mandala teacher Elizabeth Russell, to face painting, to squirt gun fights with the Fire Tribe, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
This year, we are excited to welcome MUIH alumni and clinical herbalist, Krista Fenton, who will be leading several Sprouts workshops and activities on the uses of various herbs for kids’ health, and Elizabeth Kilbourne, who will be doing a workshop on Dream Orbs, where our Sprouts will each get to use various herbs and plants to create custom dream bundles. Learning opportunities for the Sprouts and their families abound with time off to explore the creek, visit the archery range or the horseshoe pit, or check out some of the hiking trails on the property, together.
Sprouts are also encouraged to attend Adult workshops with their parents, if they are interested in the subject matter. It is never too early to support a child’s natural interests and abilities, which is why children used to learn about the world around them at their parents’ knee. Herb Fest is an ideal time to foster that innate curiosity, as this is indeed Education for Generations.