The Children's Vegetable Garden at the San Antonio Botanical Garden (SABOT) has been on my mind for a story since January. As I walked several times a week past the garden area on the back side of SABOT's property, I watched it go from bare ground, to shoots and leaves, to budding plants. By the time I finally arranged a visit, the gardening families were already harvesting onions and strawberries.
For a little background, I met with Sasha Kodet, Education Director at SABOT. She explained that the Children's Vegetable Garden has been around as long as the Botanical Gardens--30 years. The Children's Garden began in part as a project of the Men's Club and the Bexar Country Master Gardeners, and now partners with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. There are 56 active plots for families with children 8-13. Children from Woodridge Elementary also have a plot. The plots are 3 1/2 ft by 28 feet. While that might not sound like much, each area yields a good deal of food, which is sometimes shared with charities like the Food Bank. There are also 50 plus volunteers who help with instructions and planting schedules. Master Gardeners teach about irrigation and pest control and all the secrets to growing healthy plants.
While visiting on Saturday to take photos, the real story of growth came to fruition. Dangling their freshly pulled spring onions in hand, pointing to their tomatoes plants with pride, Cosmo Inserra, local filmmaker, and his son Tristan offered themselves for a photo. Later, Inserra offered the special connection this garden represents for his son and their relationship.
"The weekly gardening venture is a great way to get Tristan (and myself) out of the house and socialize," said Inserra. "Tristan has Aspergers
, so combining his love for plants and socializing had been difficult. This garden thing has really been good for him." Inserra added, "The therapeutic value of what we do, drives us rain or shine cold and wet or sweltering heat, to that garden every Saturday."
So there's something to this 'healing garden' idea of creating a place for restoration and sanctuary, a place that helps us become whole and sound. This garden is that place for Tristan and Cosmos, and probably many other families who come here to experience the joy of growing food and relationships.
For more information on the Children's Vegetable Garden project or other gardening classes offered at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens
, visit their website or call Ms. Kodet at 210.207.3270.
San Antonio activist and nonprofit veteran Laura Carter believes in enabling the community to work from the heart, not just the wallet. During her time at the San Antonio Area Foundation, Laura implemented new technology, managing website design and content for all published materials. She introduced multimedia and social media into the communications plan, increasing the community's participation in the Foundation's programs. She is currently Communications Director at Providence Catholic School.