At the historic Bird Homestead, students from Milton School are learning the joys, rewards, and the science of organic gardening in a nine-week, hands-on program called Through the Garden Gate.
At the historic Bird Homestead, students from Milton School are learning the joys, rewards, and the science of organic gardening in a nine-week, hands-on program called Through the Garden Gate. Han Yu Hung, Children’s Gardening Program Coordinator at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), and Rye resident Anne Mottola, an instructor at NYBG, teach the classes. The children are learning to plant and tend vegetables, and they experience the wonder of seeing a tiny seed grow into something tasty and healthy to eat.
The young gardeners, ranging from first through fourth graders, have learned about the structure of soil, the value of composting, and how organic materials break down. A lesson on how earthworms benefit soil fertility brought squeals of delight, as the children watched the worms at work.
Hung and Mottola emphasize the tremendous advantages of gardening without chemicals, both for the natural environment and for human health. During a lesson on why vegetables are good for our bodies, all the children were adventurous and sampled the many fresh vegetables chopped up by their teachers — including radishes, broccoli, and even garlic.
This gardening educational program is in the tradition of the Bird family’s way of life. The family maintained extensive vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and grape arbors. Henry Bird’s children attended Milton School about 100 years ago, providing a historical link to the students learning to garden at the Bird Homestead today.
— Photo by Anne Mottola