Milton School kindergarten students began a nine-week, hands-on, after-school organic gardening program, “Through the Garden Gate,” at the Bird Homestead April 17. Their guide and instructor is Han Yu Hung, Children’s Gardening Program Coordinator at the New York Botanical Garden.
Milton School kindergarten students began a nine-week, hands-on, after-school organic gardening program, “Through the Garden Gate,” at the Bird Homestead April 17.
Their guide and instructor is Han Yu Hung, Children’s Gardening Program Coordinator at the New York Botanical Garden. She designed the curriculum as a gateway to science, art, nature, and healthy eating.
“We are thrilled to be working with such a knowledgeable and talented horticulturalist and educator, along with such committed volunteers,” said Anne Stillman, president of the Committee to Save the Bird Homestead.
Ms. Hung graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in Botany and has a Master of Science in Horticulture from the University of California, Davis. For the past 12 years at the New York Botanical Garden, she has developed lesson topics and guidelines for ages 3–12 for 49 gardening sessions in the Family Garden, as well as supervised 12 instructors and numerous volunteers. The program serves 550 children throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
“I strongly believe that if kids are exposed to gardening at a young age, they will love getting their hands dirty in the garden soil, develop a sense of responsibility and self pride, be more willing to try new vegetables and foods, become more physically fit, and grow up to be true stewards of nature,” said Hung.
“Plant, tend, harvest, enjoy, learn,” states the Bird Homestead’s registration flyer, designed by Anne Mottola, a freelance graphic designer from Rye, who donated her time and talent. She is also the coordinator of the gardening program at Osborn School and an instructor at the New York Botanical Garden’s Family Garden.
“When I first learned about the history of this site, I felt it would be fitting to have children bring this unique garden space back to life,” observed Mottola. Volunteer Kathleen Malone, a Rye home gardener and member of the Bird Homestead Special Events Committee, is the administrative liaison with parents and the school and is also assisting with the classes. “We wanted to develop a program for kindergarten-age children at the Bird Homestead, since many of the older children have opportunities to garden in the schools,” she said.
“We love the fact that Milton School is in close walking distance, and that Henry Bird’s children went there so long ago,” added Stillman.
The kinder “gardeners” are picked up at noon dismissal and escorted on foot by adult volunteers to the Bird Homestead. The Little Garden Club of Rye, along with several gardening enthusiasts, helped by donating part of the cost of materials, including organic compost and topsoil.