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“Nature Deficit Disorder”

Happy New Year from

The Earth-Kind® WaterWise Demonstration Garden

 on Joe Field Road. 

We hope you will take steps in 2013 to cure Nature Deficit Order.

 Book a trip our garden!

Excerpts from the Great American Campout website and American Academy of Pediatrics: 

  • An “indoor childhood” hurts bodies & spirits.
  • Today’s kids are more likely to “tag” a friend on Facebook than outdoors in a game of “freeze tag.”
  • Kids today run from school to activities to sports w/ barely a minute to catch their breath.  Loss of free time can contribute to stress, anxiety, & depression in children. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Studies show being outdoors is the perfect anecdote.  Time in green spaces reduces children’s tension levels & enhances their social interactions, helping them to feel more connected to self and others. 

Learning in the Garden 

Sources cited:

  • Growing Food LiFE Curriculum Series
  •  Botany on Your Plate (Univ. of CA & NGA)
  •  Math in the Garden (Univ. of CA & NGA)

A Grace Academy Student Enjoying Learning and Nature At The Demonstration Garden

Using a garden helps teach the core concepts to diverse learners in an untraditional setting and grow into a relevant teaching tool. 

Simple truths about working w/ students in a garden setting: 

  • Students can better understand their environment by exploring it and hone their knowledge and skills while doing so.
  • An “outdoor learning center/classroom” creates a destination, a reason to outdoors.
  • Enhancing the outdoor learning center creates a schoolyard habitat: “If you build it, they will come.”
  • Students become stewards, stakeholders, creators by having a stake in planning and sustaining a school garden.
  • Gardening fosters teamwork, builds community, encourages sharing and understanding which in turn, creates decision-makers and problem-solvers.
  • Gardens are multi-sensory environments; students can use all of their senses to observe, predict, and understand how the world works.
  • Connections are created w/ the natural world & our region’s uniqueness.
  • Interdisciplinary learning is possible – connects Math, History, Language Arts (journaling, botanical names/Latin roots), Creative Arts, Social Sciences (bio-diversity and interdependence in plant and animal communities as in human communities), Life Sciences (nutrition, healthy choices, life skills). 

A garden setting is ripe for inquiry learning, doing & thinking rather than learning a set of predetermined facts by rote.  Einstein said the most important thing is to never stop asking questions.  Knowing how to find answers to those questions is every bit as important as knowing the answers.  

Since the early 1970s, research on how students learn Science stressed the importance of starting instruction based upon student perceptions & experiences.  In other words, you start w/ what they know or perceive to know and make meaningful connections between new knowledge and existing knowledge.  What teachers need to remember is children build their ideas over many years of explorations.  They tend to hold onto these ideas/beliefs tenaciously.  Time and countless repetitions (in large groups, small groups, or individually) are needed for them to examine new evidence, new explanations and new ideas and draw meaningful connections w/ their preexisting knowledge.  For new concepts to take root, they must make sense and fit into the students’ experiences that have been created outside the classroom. 

Unfortunately, Science is taught by “rote learning.”  No consideration is given to what science ideas students might bring to the classroom.  To cultivate meaningful learning of real world concepts, we need to draw upon their experiences, whether the experiences are misconceptions or incomplete learning, & connect the content currently being taught to their world. 

Science in the Garden can encompass the following concepts:

Humans rely upon a world of complex systems – the Earth, its ecosystems, its food systems.  Human activities impact our natural world for better or worse.  In a garden, students can grow food while maintaining a living lab.  They can investigate & monitor weather changes & the impact on a garden ecosystem.  Or, they might study decomposition, observe life cycles (seed to food, egg to butterfly), or see how matter and energy flow through ecosystems (the process of food production and the release of energy). 

Math in the Garden: allows students to hone their mathematics knowledge and skills to carry out investigations in the garden environment.  This is an untapped source of patterns, comparisons, problem-solving, measurement, number operations, Algebra, Geometry, and data analysis. 

At the base of all of this is Journaling, keeping an account of the natural world around you. Your Journal will be a guide, developed over a period of time, of noticing and noting changes, monthly and seasonally, of life cycle events.


West Dallas Community School Visits Our Garden

School Gardening With Jim, Abbe, Jan, LindaFifth grade students from  West Dallas learn about root crops from Jim and Abbe.  Did you know that the turnip or white turnip is a member of the parsley family, Brassica rapa var. rapa?  It is a root vegetable known for its bulbous tap root which is high in vitamin C and grown as a food crop for both humans and livestock.  Turnips are easy and quick to grow (35-70 days) and can be eaten raw (roots) or cooked (roots and leaves).  Turnips like well-tilled soil and constant water.  Both of these conditions are provided in our raised organic beds via our home-made compost and drip irrigation system.

The Interesting Story Of Cotton As Told By Dallas County Master Gardener, CarolynCarolyn demonstrates the technique of hand-spinning cotton thread to the fifth grade students .  Did you know that cotton is the most important non-food crop in the world?  Cotton has been spun, woven & dyed since prehistoric times.  Today, industrial uses for cotton are just as important as the cloth that originally was woven.  These products vary widely from cloth-based such as diapers, bandages, and paper to cosmetics, soap and oils; dynamite and plastics; and that sidewalk scourge, chewing gum (cellulose).  There are 39 different species of the genus Gossypium, 4 of which were commercially grown since all cotton was domesticated in antiquity.  The variety G. hirsutum became known as “upland cotton” and comprises 90% of the world’s cotton crop.

A Student's Introduction To VermicultureA 5th grade student  from West Dallas Community School gets up close & personal with a “red wiggler” worm.  During our Vermi-composting lesson, he & his classmates learned that this little ‘Eisenia fetida’ is one of approximately 2700 different kinds of worms of a large variety of species.  Did you know that “red wigglers” (aka brown-nose or red worms) work best in container/bin composting.  That’s because they are non-burrowing and move horizontally through the soil.

Annette, pictures by Starla

“Nature Is My Life”

Journaling is an integral component of the educational program offered by the Demonstration Garden.  Our Nature Journals, made from recycled materials are constructed by our student visitors and  personalized to reflect their connections with the garden.   A 5th grader from West Dallas Community School proudly proclaims, “Nature is My Life.”  Her journal became her memory book of observations, descriptions, illustrationsand  connections; a special way of carrying a piece of the garden home with her.

Annette and picture by Starla

Garden Based Education

Benefits of Garden-Based Learning
“Gardening enhances our quality of life in numerous ways: providing fresh food, exercise and health benefits, opportunities for multi-generational and life-long learning, creating pleasing landscapes and improved environment, and bringing people together.

Garden-based learning programs result in increased nutrition and environmental awareness, higher learning achievements, and increased life skills for our students. They are also an effective and engaging way to integrate curriculum and meet learning standards, giving young people the chance to develop a wide range of academic and social skills.

Garden experiences foster ecological literacy and stewardship skills, enhancing an awareness of the link between plants in the landscape and our clothing, food, shelter, and well-being. They also provide children and youth with the time and space to explore the natural world–something that can occur rarely in today’s era of indoor living.” (excerpted from Cornell University, the garden based education blog.)

Last week we had 54 kindergarten students from Providence Christian Academy in our gardens learning about chickens and eggs, veggies and herbs, compost, and observing our gardens full of Monarch butterflies, ladybugs, and bees.

SIlky Hen At The Demonstration Garden Field TripMeet Opal, named for Judy’s Aunt Opal. 

 Opal is a Silkie with black skin and bones and 5 toes instead of the normal 4. She is a wonderful brooder and mother.

Moms And Children FromProvidence Christian School Enjoying Our Visiting Chickens

Eat your veggies! We let the children take home the radishes they picked and they fed the radish tops to the chickens. 

Radish Harvest For A Kindergarten Boy From Providence Christian School

Enthusiastic future vermi-composters!

Red Wriggler Worms and Providence Christian School Students

We are still booking fall field trips.  The Gardens and our Dallas County Master Gardeners are always ready to teach in the garden!

School In The Garden

A s summer fades away. here’s a look at some of our crops and more reasons to have school outside in our learning center at the Earth-Kind® WaterWise Demonstration Garden.

Chinese Red Yardlong Noodle Beans, Garlic Chives, Pomegranate

 Chinese Red Yardlong Noodle Beans and Amaranth Love Lies Bleeding

We are growing these two exotic edibles at the Demonstration Garden to learn more about them ourselves. In our first picture Cindy is stretching out the yardlong bean and the amaranth is blooming with cascading ropes of flowers in front of it.

 To find out how to cook the yardlong noodle beans read Garden Betty.  

Amaranth aka, Love Lies Bleeding, loves the heat and does not need much water. The leaves and seeds are highly nutritious.  Its creepy name refers to its use in the middle ages to stop bleeding.  A whole social studies unit could be written about Amaranth and the uses of it around the world today and historically.  Our garden setting would be the perfect place to teach this!

Garlic Chives  Plop the ornamental seeds heads into your salad along with the chopped up  stems or leave them so you can gather their seeds.

 Pomegranate  We grow the variety, ‘Wonderful’, and it started producing for us the summer after we planted it in 2009.  It will become a multi-trunked small to mid-size tree .  We have an orchard in the planning stages with  Pomegranate trees and other Dallas oriented fruit trees to be planted and more school lessons to be taught!


Registration Now Open For Field Trips

 A very special experience awaits children visiting the Earth-Kind WaterWise Demonstration Garden on a field trip.  Children can pet friendly chickens, peek under leaves in the vegetable garden for growing produce, watch for hummingbirds and butterflies in the wildlife habitat, and learn how compost enriches our soil. 

Demonstration Garden Field Trip-Learning About Chickens

Teachers and parents are as enthusiastic about the field trip as their young friends: “The children absolutely loved the event…the volunteers were so excited about what they were sharing…and the excitement was contagious.”   

The Demonstration Garden gives teachers multiple opportunities to enrich their science curriculum.  The field trips are taught by Master Gardeners, gardening experts trained by the Dallas County AgriLife Extension Service. 

Is your class studying plant identification or wildlife? Would you be interested in having your students write poetry in the garden setting?   Or draw flowers and leaves to examine their structure? Perhaps figure out the area of a vegetable garden and determine the number of plants to include? We can tailor classes to fit your units of study, with a little notice. Literature, math, science, and the arts can be enhanced in a garden setting.

The field trips generally last about two hours.  Children rotate around stations in small groups with lots of individual attention. Restrooms, free parking, and picnic tables are available on site.

And the field trips are offered at little or no cost depending on the materials needed for your class.


To schedule a field trip to the Demonstration Garden or ask questions about field trips, click here and for more specific information from Annette about field trips go to our Garden Field Trip page.

Vegetable Lambs

Plant Born Sheep, The Medieval Idea Of Cotton           

     Have you seen the Demonstration Garden’s flock of “vegetable lambs?”  Tended with loving care by Dallas County Master Gardener Jim and other DCMG volunteers, they thrive in the Garden’s raised beds.  Though we now know these “vegetable lambs” by their contemporary name, cotton, during the medieval period in Europe, cotton was an imported fiber and the actual plant that produced it was unknown.  So, noting its similarities to wool, people imagined that cotton must have been produced by plant-born sheep.  In 1350 John Mandeville, after a trip to Tartary, wrote: “There grew there (India) a wonderful tree which bore tiny lambs on the ends of its branches.  These branches were so pliable that they bent down to allow the lambs to feed when they are hungrie (sic).”   Later in 1791 Dr. De la Croix in his work Connubia Florum, Latino Carmine Demonstrata  wrote of the vegetable lamb:

  Upon a stalk is fixed a living brute,                       Early Understanding Of Cotton Plants

  A rooted plant bears quadruped for fruit.

  It is an animal that sleeps by day

  And wakes at night, though rooted in the ground,

  To feed on grass within its reach around.

     Today’s scientific classification of cotton is, of course, much different from the zoophyte (i.e. an animal that visually resembles a plant) classification of the medieval period.  The name of the genus derives from the Arabic word goz, which refers to a soft substance. 

It is particularly interesting that cotton is in the Mallow family and is related to hibiscus.  This resemblance can be seen easily in cotton’s flowers.  Cultivated cotton is a perennial shrub.  However it is grown in our area as an annual.  Plants are around 3-5 feet tall with broad three to five lobed leaves.  The seeds are contained in capsules called a “boll.”  The many seeds found in a boll are surrounded by two types of cotton fiber.  The longer fiber can be spun into thread and ultimately cloth, while the much shorter fibers, called “linters,” are spun into low quality fiber, giving rise to the term “lint.”  Cotton requires a long growing period, full sun, moderate water and likes heavy soil.  If this sounds like a perfect plant for the Dallas area, it is—- and is why cotton fields used to be numerous throughout DallasCounty.  There are several different naturally occurring colors of cotton (white, brown, and green) and the DemonstrationGarden grows brown cotton and several different varieties of white cotton.

White Cotton And Brown Cotton Grown At The Demonstration Garden

     So the next time you visit the DemonstrationGarden, try standing by the cotton plants, closing your eyes, and just “Believe.”  If you listen closely, maybe you will hear the vegetable lambs say “baaaa.” 

       ***this is the first of several articles on cotton: the plant, its history, spinning and dyeing



Our New Blog

 Looking Down the Path to our Garden


Hello,  and welcome to the new blog for the Earth Kind® WaterWise Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road. We have changed our name, but not our mission.  You may have known us formerly as the Bloomin’ Blog on Joe Field Road, we can now be found as  You can help us by subscribing to our blog and passing our name along to others.

Though we are changing our web address to, you will find the same gardening advice and love of gardening. Our physical address has not changed. The  Earth Kind® Water Wise Demonstration Garden is located at 2311 Joe Field Road, Dallas, Texas 75229 in the heart of the Northwest industrial  area of Dallas near Royal Lane and Stemmons Freeway.

Drop in on a Tuesday morning or contact us for an appointment.  Even better, bring a group for a field trip to our gardens.  We would love for you to see our gardens.

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