Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Clean, dry terra cotta pots (optional: matching saucers)
- Potting soil
- Packets of herb seeds, or herb plants ready to be transplanted
- Acrylic craft paint and paintbrushes
- Optional: Hot glue gun, hot glue, and smooth stones, "gems" or other waterproof decorative items
- Optional: Newspaper to protect work surface
Preparation for Activity
- Spread newspaper over work surfaces-this is not a tidy activity!
- Set materials on work surfaces.
- Optional: Research options for herb seeds or seedlings. The Consumer Horticulture website has information on growing herbs indoors that will help you choose.
Description of Activity
Participants decorate pots, then plant herbs in them and plan to give them to someone as a gift. Potted herb plants symbolize the growth power of earth, and invite participants to connect with the earth year-round.
Show the group the seeds or plants you have brought. Explain that the herb plants will have a pleasant scent, and their leaves can be used to add fresh flavor to food. As the plants grow, they will remind participants how important the soil is to our food. Furthermore, when you pinch back an herb plant to use its leaves, the plant not only keeps growing, but gets stronger-like our human spirit, the more we use it, the healthier and stronger it becomes.
Give each participant a terra cotta pot (and saucer, if you have them) and invite them to paint it. Tell them to paint thinly, so it will dry quickly and leave them time to plant the seeds or seedlings. The top inch or two of the inside of the pot will be visible once the pot is in use, but there will be no point to painting further inside the pot. If you wish, allow participants to attach flat stones, small tiles, plastic "gems," etc. with hot glue.
When decorations are dry, fill pots with potting soil and plant herb seeds according to the directions on the packet, or gently plant the seedlings you have brought.
As participants are working, mention that the potted herbs make excellent gifts. Engage participants to discuss how they might share them as gifts.
Invite reflection with these questions:
- Have you ever grown your own food? If so, did it taste different than what you've gotten from a store? Did you feel differently eating it?
- Where does your family shop for food? Why do you think the adults in your family choose to buy groceries where they do?
- When Mark Covington started the Georgia Street Community Garden he decided that the produce grown there should be available free for anyone who wanted to come pick it. The garden is a gift from the community to the community. Who might you want to give your finished potted herb to? What effect might your gift have? Is there a way that you could give all of your pots together as a garden?
Including All Participants
Participants with fine motor limitations will have an easier time with larger brushes for painting.