Written by: Raye Myers
Over the summer of 2018, the DOT Garden is going to host three different events that are all part of a series of Family Garden Fests. With three unique events on June 23rd, July 21st, and September 8th, the DOT Garden strives to bring together community in all forms — from families, friends, volunteers, and garden regulars, to kids, adults, and new timers of the Desert Oasis Teaching Garden. The main idea for these fests is that the activities change from event to event based upon the season and current events in the garden (depending on the time of year, amount of rainfall, plants growing at the time, etc.). The activities are designed to be easy to replicate so that each individual or family can bring knowledge and dreams for their own garden back to their own home.
This series started off well with a successful event in June! For the first event, there were nine different stations and activities set up. I helped at the Seed Mural area, which depicted a bee on flowers and a spider on a spider web. I loved witnessing kids and parents contribute to art that was made out of native seeds, rice, peas, etc. and seeing the progression of pieces similar to color by number. It was especially moving to know that we inspired a little girl to go home and make her own mural!
Next, there was a food station that featured herbal lemonade made with basil and mint along with radish varietal tasting. There was also a worm area and a station to make your own salt scrub from calendula petals grown in the garden. At the worm area (aka the worm petting zoo), attendees learned about the importance of organic matter/ castings in soil for water absorption through touch. Around the whole garden there was a scavenger hunt that acted as an educational, self-guided tour through the DOT Garden. Signs were hung around the area to provide information about cisterns, vertical bins for sweet potatoes, leaf corrals that store leaves for free organic matter, and ollas and irrigation. With this quick scavenger hunt, what could seem like inherent components of our garden, such ollas or vertical bins, can be brought to light as new options and ideas for other’s gardens. Lastly, on the sidewalk, people created their own dream garden with chalk. This allowed people to have fun and show their creative side while simultaneously learning about companion planting.
To conclude the event, there was a local dance group performance by Ballet Afrique, including the DOTG’s own Tiana Baca! This group practices at the Maple Street community dance space and fosters inclusivity and community, perfect for the family garden fest occasion. The energetic dancers accompanied by live drumming were an excellent way to end the morning. Overall, the culmination of hardwork and planning was displayed during the event, which highlighted sensory exploration during each activity with taste, feel, touch, and play while also engaging a wide audience and providing the community with something to take home, whether it be knowledge or a salt scrub. And to put the cherry on top, this fest and future ones are sponsored by the Water Authority so that the events can be free!
Even if you did not make it to the event in June, there are more to come!! Check out the DOT Garden Facebook or event page for more information.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Raye Myers is a currently working in the DOTG for the summer and is a member of the environmental club during the school year. She loves all things nature, reading, diving, and speech and debate. She will be starting her senior year in the fall.