Friday, October 11, 2013

Guide for hire

I keep getting talked into organizing garden tours by bicycle....

Earlier this week, my friend Sam cajoled me into leading a group of environmental educators who were in town from all over the country (and two from Canada, which I suppose makes it an international conference) on a relatively low-key, 4.5-mile tour of school gardens around Eastern Market. Still groggy after returning from San Francisco about a day and a half prior, I agreed. Maybe it was the jetlag talking, or the compensatory lunch I was promised. (What can I say, I have a soft spot for Chipotle's veggie burritos. Sam knows this.) Despite the severe lack of sleep and the impending rainstorm and the head cold I was nursing, I'm so glad he did.

After all kinds of adventures trying to locate their bus to bring them down from Baltimore, and then worse than usual delays on the beltway, fifteen members of the North American Association for Environmental Education arrived almost exactly an hour behind schedule.  They met us at Union Station and saddled up on their rental bikes. After a few minutes of introductions, we hit the road.

The group was wonderful: enthusiastic, curious, appreciative, observant. And they all wore their bike helmets without me having to harass anyone even once. Imagine that!

We visited four schools around Capitol Hill, climbed on found material structures at some, snacked on fresh dips and salads at others, and celebrated what I hadn't realized were quite the cutting-edge garden programs at Watkins, School Within a School, Peabody, and Capitol Hill Montessori. Oh, no, I knew these were all cool gardens with great teachers -- they were chosen as highlights of the DC school garden scene, after all -- but it was interesting to hear how they compare to programs and gardens in other places. DC school gardens rock.

I daresay I'll get talked into another one of these soon. Oh, look, I already have been: the first event for Healthy Schools Week is, you guessed it, a school garden bike tour. It should be pretty fun.... Come join!

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