FoodCorps Friday- Art and Therapy in the Garden
By, Captain Planet Foundation service member, Dasia Harmon
It has been an amazing school year to say the least. I’ve had a great opportunity to get to know so many young minds and teach them about healthy food. We explored healthy food through so many avenues: through theater, by acting out pollination, through math by measuring live worms and recording the average length, through song by creating a melody of how dirt makes our lunch. The list goes on!
One highlight that stands out the most is our end of the year celebration. We brought art and therapy into the garden by creating labels for the things we planted. Many stressors come along with standardized testing in schools, so this proved to be the perfect activity to alleviate some of that pressure.
You certainly don’t need to consider yourself particularly creative or an artist. You can enjoy this activity with students of all ages, in fact, even some teachers grabbed a paintbrush to join in on the fun.
Here are some helpful guidelines that made this experience happen:
- Gather supplies. You will need:
- Patio Paint
- 2-3 Plastic Bins
- Paint Brushes (one for each color paint)
- Cups for each student to use for paint
- Tarp /Newspaper
- Smooth rocks or pieces of non-treated wood for labels
Patio paint is specially formulated for outdoor projects and will last over many seasons. Setup 2-3 plastic bins in the garden filled with water, one for paint brushes, another for a pre wash and another for a final rinse. This also keeps custodians happy. Lay out tarp or newspaper for spills. Gather several brushes, ideally one for each color paint to avoid mixing. Also choose what you will use as your labels. Smooth rocks that have been rinsed then dried, or scrap pieces of non treated blocks of wood work well.
- Plan. Choose which plants you will need labels for. Label any plant, especially perennials, which will continue coming back year after year as new students enter the school and others graduate. Be sure to notify teachers and parents in advance, that student’s clothes may become soiled with this activity.
- Give students freedom. Students were able to choose their favorite color, however I dispersed the paint. A little paint goes a long way, and this cuts down on unwanted spills. Be sure to tell students not to paint the bottom of the rock or piece of wood which won’t be seen and will be touching the soil.
- Decorate. Younger students had the special task of creating the base coat. 1-2 coats should be
added to lengthen the lifespan of the labels. Allow for adequate drying time between coats. Older students had the responsibility of adding th e name, and a picture of the plant. To cut down on mistakes, pictures can be drawn with pencils first then painted over. Toothpicks, or the reverse side of the paint brush can be used for smaller details.
- Enhance the therapy. Try painting with music, or bring along a string instrument, this heightens the already calming experience.
Relax, unwind, and enjoy beautifying your garden!