Planting a Blog that Blooms…

I am new to the blog world, so it’s time to take note from those that have come before… I am choosing to write about children and gardening from an uncommon angle: personal reflection of my time spent observing and volunteering with a local outreach organization. I hope my unique angle will give me an edge, but it will also require me to clearly establish the purpose of this blog for you, the reader.

First off, how do I attract visitors to this site visually? During my search of other gardening blogs, I came across one with a hideously memorable WordPress template, which I immediately recognized from when I had searched for my own blog background. This blog was unattractive to me for two reasons: 1) I know the pattern was slapped onto the blog form the WordPress templates with minimal thought put into site appearance, and 2) the pattern is busy and distracting, which makes the blog look disorganized.

For my own blog, I plan to gather some gardening or outdoors pictures of my own which you now see as the background of my site. One of the most attractive blog sites I found from dirtgarden used a picture of daisies as a header against a black backdrop for the home page, with text floating on top. These are the kinds of details that intrigue me to linger long enough to read some of the blog content.

The pictures I place on this blog can play a big role in describing the function of my site. My first thought for pictures is to provide images of growing gardens or maybe children’s little fingers in the dirt. In many cases, similar blogs may provide these kinds of images, but they usually avoid posting their own faces in the garden. Perhaps bloggers avoid posting images of themselves so the author appears more distanced from the subject and thus more objective and unbiased. But hold on: my blog is about participating and not just observing, and I know I influence my environment. That’s fine! I plan to include images of myself among the pictures I post because, while this blog is an exploration of children’s gardening, it is contaminated by the observer – ME!

The purpose of this blog is not to provide marketing strategies for blogging, but a thoughtful blog is a wise investment. I hope my observations and lessons learned from the blogosphere serve us all well in our missions to be heard.

WP 2/23

Digging into the Gardening Scene

And here the adventures begin…

In continuing my exploration and appreciation of Vermont’s local food system, I plan to learn about the role of a nonprofit organization here in Burlington that promotes gardening  for all ages and incomes. In the coming weeks, I will be volunteering with a local organization, Friends of Burlington Gardens, and sharing my thoughts here.

My hunt through the blogosphere suggests the conversation I will be joining is rather quiet and disconnected. It is much easier to find blogs on how to teach children to garden, and on the status of schools’ teaching gardens, than it is to find blogs on the individual’s experience participating in these activities, as I will do with this blog. Getting children in the garden is a hot topic, and so I do appreciate those who can provide suggestions for implementing programs or creating activities. But how does a garden program appear to operate when viewed from a more intimate lens? By working with the organizations that help catalyze school gardens and community gardens, I want to understand what makes these programs magical successes – or failures – and reflect upon the role I, as a community member and nutrition student, contributes.

Most of the blogs I found on gardening with children during my search are written as more objective reports or simple tips… One of the blogs I viewed, Urban Sprouts, is a diary of the activities performed by a San Francisco-based organization – developing school gardens around the city in underserved areas, in an effort to provide education to the community’s youth and their families. Another blog, Gardening4Kids, written by a parent and teacher, was a short-lived blog providing tips for kid-friendly plants and lemonade-making. These blogs contribute to the conversation about exposing children to gardens, but they are each only slightly similar to KidsDigGardens in how they report on the gardening scene…

A third blog, GreenSchoolyard, was best aligned with my blogging intentions. This author described her interest in coordinating gardening curricula during her role as a substitute teacher. The author refers to herself as the “wanna-be school gardener” who is learning about how to provide gardening education to children. I can relate best to this blog because of the introspective style used by the blogger to report on lessons learned and skills gains through repeated exposure to school gardening and facilitating children’s activities.

In the blogs that I have described here, the authors emphasize gardening as a form of physical activity more so than as a means to produce and consume food. Teaching gardens are touted for all of these benefits, but I intend to highlight the latter: good eating. After all, this blog is meant to serve a more intimate, personal lens of the garden world, and the foodie nutritionist in me cannot help but hope children will eat more fruits and vegetables.

WP 2/23