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July 11, 2017 / Rick Swann

National Children and Youth Garden Symposium


I am excited about delivering one of the keynote speeches at this week’s National Children and Youth Garden Symposium in Vancouver, Washington just across the river from Portland. The conference is put on annually by the American Horticultural Society. One of the events I am looking forward to is this year’s presentation of the Growing Good Kids Award.

Created by the American Horticultural Society and the Junior Master Gardener program, the “Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature” awards honor the best new children’s books about gardening and nature. Each year, these awards recognize children’s books that are especially effective at promoting an understanding of, and appreciation for, gardening, nature, and the environment.[from the AHS website]

Our School Garden! was one of the books chosen four years ago.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is how I would change Our School Garden! if I wrote it today. Over the last two years I’ve sat in on a number of meetings with Megan Bang, a professor at the University of Washington. Conversations with her have made me realize that my concept of what a garden is has been too narrow. Gardening, for many cultures around the world, involves tending to the health of the local ecosystem so that native plants that have food, medicinal and other purposes thrive. There is no mention of tending ecosystems, native plants or foraging in my book. I wish there were.

There is a interview of Megan in Crosscut by Michelle Rankin called “How Native Kids See Science Differently” that I recommend to all:

I hope there’s a good turnout at the conference. I’ve attended before and it was a wonderful experience. The conference moves around the country. Make sure you attend when it’s near you (and it’s also worth a flight!).

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