A group of thirteen 4th and 6th grade students from the school Centro Educativo Villa Azul came to visit Xandari on Wednesday morning. Unlike sustainability tours I’ve led before, I was dealing with a large, energetic bunch of jubilant preteens that get distracted easily. I had prepared for this occasion and made sure to add a recycling activity and a few tasty snacks (to “recharge the batteries” of course) at the end of the tour.
I had been forewarned by a few of my coworkers that “kids these days” don’t eat fruit, but I remained hopeful in the idea that by offering the kids some of our delicious fruit it would convince them that fruits were the best natural, sugary edibles created on earth. Therefore, halfway through our tour, I made a brief pit stop by our hydroponic garden and told the kids they could each pick out one strawberry to eat if, and only if, they could list three benefits of hydroponic gardening that I had mentioned earlier in the tour. To my relief, they answered the question correctly (see if you can too! Answers are below) and then hurriedly sought out the reddest and shiniest looking strawberries. In hindsight, it might not have been the best idea since there were few strawberries to begin with and now our hydroponics display is not as colorful (but in just a matter of days it’ll be back to full stock!). I’ll make sure to offer guayabas or mangoes next time.
Once at the compost area, the kids were not as enthusiastic. It’s probable that the sharp, earthy smell stunned their senses. They stood in a semicircle as far away possible and took turns approaching a pile that José Luis urged them to touch. As they got a closer look, the kids would ogle at the steam coming out the overturned pile and whisper “oooooooohhh”s and “aaaaaaaahhhhh”s upon touching the warm organic material. After the compost experience, however, the children were eager to move on to a less odorous area.
The recycling activity went smoothly which means that fortunately for us, we have some work cut out in our weekly separation of recyclable materials (hurray!). By the time we made it to our last stop, the laundry room, it was noticeable that the kids were in need of some food (did someone say more fruit?!). Worn out, but in high spirits for the snacks, they hopped, skipped, and trotted their way to the table of food and juices.
I am happy to note that the kids finished off almost all the fruit, and even took some níspero (loquat) home with them. Thank you strawberries.
For those participating in the mini quiz, three benefits to hydroponics are: 1. Lower water consumption 2. Faster growth rate 3. Less room needed to grow. These are just a few, but there are many more!