PDF Odú tomato seedlings

Summer is coming; the tomato seedlings are growing in the sunlight. They were planted to represent the cooperation between PDFoundation and Odú Centre and their conditions are watched and cared weekly by special needs children.

This week the very first, tiny, yellow flowers appeared among the leaves. This event put an enormous emphasis on the effects on nature and wildlife that every human being has and showed the kids with special care that their impact is as powerful. The additionally experienced emotional, mental and physical processes have gone deeper, forming their personality with new impressions they capture individually and as a community.

We can state that the children's enthusiasm and participation in the project has reached the maximum level. This complex experiential system is not limited to the weekly group sessions, but increasingly interweaves with the children’s everyday life. I continuously receive plenty of feedbacks from professionals and families in these regards. Moreover, the kids strongly connect me to the tomato seedlings so when we have an encounter outside of the Centre they often smile at me saying the word: Tomato!

Celebrating the last busy week, the nursery held a picnic in the kindergarten’s backyard. The sun gleamed on the grass and we gathered in a circle on our huge blanket. We followed common social eating etiquette and children could enjoy the challenge of buttering and topping their own sandwiches. We even had some experimental tomato-tasting in various forms: sliced for sandwiches and as delicious, homemade tomato juice.

Working with the elements of nature continuously brings tremendous results in children’s life. They started to explore the treasures of the surrounding environment and discover their inner values through which they can make connections with nature. It is a unique adventure: form and create something new and conduct it, in this case create the necessary conditions together for a living entity- for the plant and care about its welfare. This makes the individuals playing an important role in the circulation of life. Similarly to the development of the plants - them growing and blooming - the mental and emotional state of a child is evolving as well while taking care of the seedling. The well-being of the plant relies on the welfare of its caregiver.

The result of the Planting Program are overwhelming due to the complexity of the experienced personal processes. As the previous article mentioned children who had never eaten vegetables before, and who are suffering from eating disorders were open to taste a tomato for the first time during our sessions. Based on feedbacks of the parents these occasions were not only one-offs but are constantly expanding and replanning the eating habits of the children and their families.

The program helps to show the children and the parents that eating does not necessarily begin at the store or on the plate but is rooted in the work of our hands, and in our collaboration with nature. Many families are about to start some planting activities in their garden or on their balcony – because we know that even a little space is sufficient for great miracles. Planting and caring for plants requires attention and some work to do but also ensures valuable opportunities for the family to spend time together during watering or weeding. This is the true essence of the Planting Program: for an individual to dare to see her/his own magnificence through social relationships and the indispensability of her/his personal and community work for the environment and nature.