The Buzz

The Kitchen Classroom

I am Katie McIntyre, an intern at the Memphis Botanic Gardens, sponsored by The Little Garden Club of Memphis. Over the summer, I have spent my time in My Big Backyard. As part of my internship, I have learned from many specialists about different styles of design, pruning, planting, growing, flower arranging, and color schemes. I have learned about the different varieties of trees, flowers, herbs, and produce, and where they can be best grown in a garden according to the sunlight. This internship has been extremely therapeutic and very educational.
My Big Backyard opened in 2009. The Children’s Educational Program serves over 36,000 children from 192 area schools. I chose My Big Backyard as my project garden because of how inspired I am by children. As a dancer and dance teacher, it is important to me for my students to understand the effect healthy produce has on their bodies, mind, focus, and in creating their art. Understanding where our food comes from is an important part of our growth. It is so empowering to have the ability to provide for yourself, including your own food.
One of the projects that I decided to take on here in My Big Backyard was to help provide the children and families of MBG an opportunity to see how their food is grown. In the Kitchen Classroom, I created a pizza garden, pickles garden, tea garden, and a vegetable garden. I feel it is important for the children to know that their everyday food started in a garden. 
In our pizza garden, we have tomatoes, basil, oregano, parsley, and onions. Our pickles garden consists of cucumbers and of course the herb dill. In the tea garden, which is a wonderful way to enhance the sense of smell, there is Pineapple Sage, Hardy Hill Rosemary, Lemon Bee Balm, Honeydew Melon Sage, Garden Angelica, and Phenomenal Lavender. Throughout the Kitchen Classroom, you will find asparagus, zucchini, tomatillos, green beans, and more varieties of mint than you ever even knew existed. Alongside the pizza garden we also have a peanut plant, so that the children can see how  peanuts are grown. Before I began my project, MBG had already started a project of their own, a jam garden, a MBG favorite, has peach trees, blueberries, strawberries, muscadine, figs, and persimmon. What kid doesn’t love peanut butter and jam sandwiches? 
Throughout the summer all of these plants in the Kitchen Classroom have been used in Healthy Garden, Healthy You and the Senses classes to teach the kids about the plants grown. They allow the kids to see the growth process, smell all of the different styles of mint and herbs, feel the different textures, and taste any fruit or vegetable grown. The Kitchen Classroom is a great way to introduce children to the art of gardening. My Big Backyard is filled with many different gardens and the Kitchen Classroom is just one part of this child’s dream garden. Tune in next time to hear about what’s been happening in the My Little Garden.
By Katie McIntyre, MBG intern
Posted by Memphis Botanic Garden News at 7:46 PM


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