By Sarah Dasher, FoodCorps Service Member
I’m often surprised by how fascinated kids are by things that I think might go over their heads. For instance, to me, the fact that a tiny rock-like thing sprouts and grows into a tomato plant or corn or a tree is like magic. Just add water, sun, and soil and you’ve got something amazing from almost nothing. But whenever I’m about to go to class and talk about seeds with the kids, I expect them to not be so fascinated by this. After all, they have TV and the internet and can find out anything about anything at any time.
But they are fascinated. Not the really little kids so much, who are still learning the plant parts and what a seed is, but around second and third grade, when they start to really get it, you can see in their eyes that they think it’s magic too.
I’ve been doing indoor seed packet scavenger hunts with my classes because the weather hasn’t been so great lately. It involves stashing piles of seed packets around the classroom and having the students race to see who can answer all 15 questions first (they have to go to each pile and find the information on the back of the packets to do so, so they get to move around, which is nice.)
About every other time I do this, I get seed packets back that are empty. I don’t have many materials to work with and I do this lesson a lot, so I always have to ask where the seeds are. Sometimes the seeds are scattered on the floor somewhere, but more often than not, someone’s got them in their pocket.
Why? Sure, some of them are just trying to see what they can get away with, but why would they even want to get away with taking dull little brown things? I think they just know, innately, how so very vital to our existence these little seeds are. They know they are magic—I can tell by how reluctant they are to give them back. I think it shows a certain level of intuition, intelligence, and wonder for them to look at a seed, which is aesthetically pretty unremarkable (most of the time), and see a treasure worth hiding away.
I always make sure I don’t come off as annoyed when I ask for the seeds back, because one thing I definitely don’t want to do is discourage them from collecting seeds, or squash any inquisitive instincts (plus, who knows, maybe there are some future seed bankers out there). Also, there is no malice in their actions, no particular sneakiness or suggestion that they’ve pulled something over on me. Most of them really just wanted those seeds. And why shouldn’t they?
At the very least, I think this shows that they recognize how cool the science of it all is. That they get that a tiny little seed has so much potential. Maybe I’m reaching here, and these are just kids trying to swipe things, but I really, really hope that it’s got something to do with human preservation instincts, that some ancient wisdom is telling these kids to save these seeds so they can take care of themselves and grow their own food.