Mulch Machine

by Phyllis Odessey
Spreading MULCH is a task for gardeners, but to kids it’s just plain fun. 

The Learning Garden at Randall’s Island is over 13,000 square feet. The paths in between the beds are mulched with woodchips provided by the Parks Department. We dump approximately 50 yards of mulch in a large pile at the beginning of the season and by the end of the year it’s nearly gone.  Our Edible Education program consists of planting, harvesting, composting, seeding, cooking, mulching and using the garden as inspiration for making bracelets, sachets, etc.  as well as  lessons in photosythensis, healthy eating and learning the parts of a plant.

The program is organized around various stations.  Every child has a chance to experience each station.  The mulch pile is one of the most popular activities.  And considering that there is a playground adjacent to the garden, the mulch pile is more popular than the swings.   I don’t know if its the fun of just using a shovel, a bucket or wheel barrow:  kids climb to the top of the pile, run down, slide down  and best of all dig around.  Finding a worm or various insects are a joy.  The mulch pile holds many surprises.  The students enjoy the unexpected nature of the pile and we are astonished by their devotion to a very satisfying task.

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