For the second year, the Bird Homestead invites students after school from the Carver Center in Port Chester to the site on Milton Road for a hands-on program called “Through the Garden Gate.”
For the second year, the Bird Homestead invites students after school from the Carver Center in Port Chester to the site on Milton Road for a hands-on program called “Through the Garden Gate.” For nine weeks the children will learn to plant, tend, and harvest vegetables the organic way. In addition to providing an introduction to botany and beneficial insects, the program is designed to teach an understanding of healthy food and where it comes from. Edible gardening was key to the Bird family’s lifestyle. They maintained extensive vegetable gardens, grape arbors, and fruit trees.
Taught by Han Yu Hung, Children’s Gardening Program Coordinator at the New York Botanical Garden, and Anne Mottola, an instructor at NYBG, the program will focus on gardening without pesticides to keep our food and our environment healthy. Henry Bird, a prominent entomologist, was an early proponent of avoiding pesticides in vegetable gardening and a pioneer in the use of beneficial insects to protect crops.
The children spent their first class of the season digging compost into raised beds and planting tiny radish seeds. Hung and Mottola will also introduce the children to basic composting and soil science, explaining how microbes and earthworms help break down organic materials and enrich soil fertility.
The program for Carver Center students is underwritten by the Anvilla Prescott Cunningham Fund for Gardening Education at the Bird Homestead. The fund honors the memory of Mrs. Cunningham, an accomplished gardener and botanist, who grew flowers, vegetables, and herbs at her home in Rye for nearly six decades, and worked with alpine plants at the New York Botanical Garden.
“It is a joy to have the Carver Center students digging in and learning here at the Bird Homestead garden. We are grateful to all the donors to the fund for making it possible,” said Anne Stillman, president of the Bird Homestead nonprofit.