Generation Connection Teaching Garden
Started in 1985, this intergenerational gardening project is designed to connect adults and children through exploration of their mutual interest in life within a garden. Integrated in the outdoor garden classroom on the Santa Clara Adult Education campus, the area offers a myriad of different plants and animals for the young children to discover. The volunteers maintain spaces in the garden for children to enjoy, and find creative ways to share their love of gardening with children while learning to see the garden through the eyes of the children themselves. Although there are rules (walk on paths, stay with guide and ask before you pick or taste), the children are mesmerized by the incredible exploratory journey through the garden.
The 'classroom' at the garden
The purpose of this multi-sensory garden experience is to reconnect our children with nature through exploring the wonders in the garden; to help children make the connection that food comes from the garden and to provide hands-on experience of the life cycles (plant, insect, soil) within it. Volunteers for this project come from the UC Master Gardeners and the community at large. Teachers sign up their first and second grade classes for garden field trips. Children become more fully engaged in the nature around them and benefit by learning to make and enjoy healthier food choices. Adult chaperones are offered information on starting a garden and the resources available to them through the UC Master Gardeners. As well, volunteers benefit from the opportunity to share something they love with the next generation.
During the garden tour, under adult supervision, the children have the opportunity to plant seeds, pick and taste seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, drink water out of a leaf, observe insects, hold worms, feed chickens and enjoy being out in nature. Annually, about 600 children and 150 adults visit the garden through this program.
If you are interested in volunteering with the Generation Connection, please contact Santa Clara Adult Education at 1840 Benton Street, Santa Clara. The project meets on Friday mornings during the spring and fall months.