Until spending an afternoon planting lettuce, radishes, and carrots with elementary school students this week, I had temporarily forgotten how joyful and inspiring gardening with children can be.

And what a timely dose of inspiration – for despite (or maybe because of) all the awe-some signs of spring blooming around us, I had been feeling overwhelmed and surprisingly unmotivated by the seemingly endless list of gardening tasks at hand.

Raised bed garden at Alderson Elementary School

Whenever I garden with kids, I am amazed by the spectrum of curiosity and wisdom on display – as well as the varying degrees of willingness to touch dirt. I can’t help but wonder why some are so eager and inclined to participate in the process of growing food, and others hesitant, uninterested, or even grossed out.

A couple of Alderson Grow Appalachia participants were just telling me about their gaggle of grandkids, and how one among them is particularly smitten with gardening (and has been for as long as they can remember). She’s six and will choose to eat fresh cherry tomatoes over a cupcake any day. Recently, she begged to “tiller” the garden with her grandpa, anxious to start producing vegetables again.

I look forward to meeting this little gardener, and am so glad and grateful that she and other local youth are a part of our Grow Appalachia program.