Children who grow up in New York City are often deprived of time in the natural world. But just off the traffic-jammed hubbub of Flatbush Avenue, hidden inside the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a one-acre miniature farm where for nearly a hundred years kids have hunkered down in the dirt to get to know insects and worms at close range.
Photographs by Jeanne Rostaing except where noted.
Above: The Children’s Garden was the brainstorm of a young teacher named Ellen Eddy Shaw, who was distressed by the plight of poor children living in crowded tenements. She decided to create a place in the fresh air where they could learn gardening skills.
Above: Photograph by Design Habit via Flickr.
Above: Children are organized into groups of 10 to 12 based on age and grade. Each group is then assigned a specific area or plot to care for. Officials at the Botanic Garden estimate more than 1,000 children, ages 2 to 13, participate each year. Older students, enrolled in the Garden Apprentice Program, provide guidance and instructions.
Above: Crops in the Children’s Garden are started from seed in spring. The young gardeners grow a lot of familiar produce, including tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, corn, and eggplants.
Above: But many plots reflect the ethnic diversity of the city’s youngest gardeners. Tomatillos, edamame, and super hot peppers are also thriving.
On Mondays, when the garden is closed, the children’s army of statuesque yellow and red sunflowers stands watch. Some of their heads, heavy with seeds, are bowed. It almost seems as though they are mourning the absence of their exuberant young caretakers.
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