I’m so excited to introduce my guest because it’s someone I met from the Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook group. I asked one of the awesome members if she wanted to do an interview and she recommended Jennifer Brown from the Children’s Garden at Woodend Sanctuary Audubon Naturalist Society of the Mid-Atlantic States in Silver Spring Maryland, a mile north Washington DC.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I work with children. I remember of course working with my mom and my grandmother. Every summer we would go to upstate NY and visit her and my mothers relatives. They had an extensive raspberry patch. Look at the asparagus flowers and herbs. The foundation got laid early on as it does for most people and of course I ignored it for many years.
Until my 20s 30s, I started to take it on as a hobby. The first thing I grew was tulips … they came out and were beautiful.
About my late 20s I was living in a group house, it had a patch of ground in front and a yard in the back. I decided to grow things. They came up in the spring. I decided to cut a whole bunch to take to a friend. She was so impressed.
I thought that more would grow! I was shocked! I thought I knew something about gardening!
Which has been the theme of my life in gardening is there is always so much more to learn!
I plant with students and kids of all ages, I am constantly learning!
We grew amaranth this year, and I hope this week we will be able to cook it, so we are alway learning! I teach them that old people like me are always learning. That’s sort of the theme of my gardening journey.
I love all of that!!!
Now, it’s the Audubon where? What’s the Woodland Sanctuary?
Children’s Garden at Woodend Sanctuary Audubon Naturalist Society of the Mid Atlantic States, Teddy Roosevelt belonged to it. It had no home in Washington DC. I woman who had built a mansion donated it.
It’s a beautiful site, they have many weddings take place there is one way they raise money and their mission is environmental education!
I went to work there in 2008, not trained in that specifically. With a small group wanting to work with school to bring more green education. I decided I wanted to know more of gardening native plants and vegetables. I took that on as a way to grow into the job and to learn more.
There are 2 raised beds in the site. Right near in the historic greenhouse. The base is there and the water supply. I had everything I needed. Since then it has tripled in size.
So my question is how do the kids get there? Do they come in buses? Do you go to schools? Local neighborhoods? Who are the kids?
The kids are
3 different groups
Busloads of kids who come throughout the school year to visit Audubon and get some activities about the environment. There’s a stream on site and they will go down and see macro invertebrates and learn that’s a way to assess the health of the water in the area.
So far they don’t make official visits to a vegetable garden.
Who’s coming now?
Audubon Summer Program
Very active for a summer program. Parents sign up during the week or several weeks.
School day out camp, so they are holidays from school where parents need to do something with kids for the day. That’s great in the fall to continue harvesting or they can quickly sow a lettuce row.
I get an enormous amount done over spring break if you come back for summer!
I bet there’s a ton of listeners who’s brains are spinning gears are turning. In the spring we don’t have much for holidays in my school.
Nature Preschool at Audubon
We also have on site we have a nature preschool for 3-5 year olds. Different classes.
One that happened this last year
Forest Oaks and they’re little 5-year olds not ready for kindergarten who basically roam the estate and learn all kind of things in nature and come to the garden regularly. That teacher is fabulous for having them plant peas very early and explore the garden. She feels very comfortable using the garden.
listen to the full interview or read the complete shownotes at the Organic Gardener Podcast