Youth work alongside gardeners, many of whom are immigrants and minorities, in urban community gardens to learn about and record planting practices and the connection of those practices to the gardeners` cultural heritage.
Whereas scientists and farmers operate in an increasingly diverse and globalized environment, young people may have limited opportunities to participate in learning experiences that reflect this diversity. Although many urban areas include immigrants and minority adults, many of whom have agricultural backgrounds, these local residents rarely have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with youth in organized educational programs. Urban community gardens, because of their role in food production and community enhancement, provide an ideal learning lab for youth to learn about agricultural science within a multicultural, community context.
Through the Cornell University Garden Mosaics program (www.gardenmosaics.org), youth interview elder gardeners to learn about planting practices, and the relation of those practices to the gardeners' ethnic heritage. The information that youth learn from the community gardeners is supplemented by resources produced at Cornell, which describe the scientific principles behind plants, soils, planting practices, and land use. Youth use the results of their research in the gardens to plan and carry out an Action Project to benefit the gardeners and their community. They also post the results of their investigations on the Garden Mosaics website, where their reports become a learning tool for others.
Over 8,000 youth, 250 gardeners, and 600 educators, and 10 Cornell undergraduate and graduate students in 20 cities across the US conducted Garden Mosaics activities in 2005. The youth and other gardener participants have contributed to four online Garden Mosaics databases: the Community Garden Inventory, a survey of the role of community gardens in neighborhood enhancement and food production across North America: Gardener Stories, oral histories of the gardening practices and heritage of elder gardeners; Weed Watch, an inventory of urban weed species and control methods; and Action Projects, descriptions of projects youth have undertaken in their community.
funding source description
Congressional appropriations, United Components, Weed Science Society of America