Gardening, Independent learning, home schooling and life

One of the things I love about the lifestyle, yes the lifestyle, of independent learning and home schooling.  No one who does either of these things is a traditional conformist.  The vast majority of us are independent people who want to make our lives as self-sustaining as possible.  I want to introduce you to a wonderful family and their website.  The Dervaes family lives in Pasadena, California.  I think I was first introduced to them on a television special of some sort a few years back.  I have followed their lives and their project ever since on their website called Path to Freedom.  They live on a lot in Pasadena about the size of my lot here in Atascocita.  I discovered their site actually after I set up several raised garden beds in the back yard.  Over the years, I let it go due to family stuff as often happens to people.  But during that time I had a ball raising vegetables and saving money.  During most of those years, in the season, I just bought staples and proteins.   The Dervaes family have done something truly inspirational. They have “homesteaded” their property in Pasadena, California.  And, as they say they are “striving to become earth stewards, taking care of the precious gift we have all been given”. 

This wonderful family lives on 1/5 of an acre.  Their philosophy about what they are doing is much like an independent learner or home schooler they say “just do it”.  That is exactly the philosophy we all need to have when it comes to taking care of our lives and the education of our children.  That 1/5 of an acre supports four adults with a full time living.  Amazing, yes – and no.  Just as most people say I could never do that.  They just did it.  That is what I want to encourage everyone to do with this blog. 

There is no limit to the amount of learning and living that can come from even a small attempt to grow your own food and design your own life.  First of all there is no better way to get your kids interested in things like science, history, journaling and so much else by giving them a practical reason for doing it.  Almost all of what we do with our kids to teach them in the industrial system is artificial.  We are always talking about ways to make learning relevant.  How much more relevant can you get when the learning comes from the land you live on. 

Think for a moment about a journaling project that took place a long time ago.  Laura Engels Wilder started journaling about her families adventures establishing a new life on the plains of the mid-west.   From a simple journal that a child could keep can come all of written English.  And, it will be relevant to the child’s life.  Who knows it might become a major book someday.  Some things that can be included in the journal could be what was done that day in the “homestead”,  What plants are growing,  Family events, or just anything else.  As the journal develops more things will become significant.

Social sciences are at the heart of what the Dervaes are doing.  What do other countries depend on for food?  Reading the “Little House” books will provide an insight into how people lived 100 + years ago in America.  Where do we get our food?  How does it get to us?  What is the history of corn?   A study of corn will get you into most of the history of the entire North American and Central American regions. 

Science?  We have it covered.   What influences plant growth?  What is the water cycle?  What is the carbon cycle?  What is the role of soil in the survival of man?  What have people done in countries that may not have good soil?  What is the role of sunlight in plant growth?  What are the parts of plants?  The possibilities are endless. 

How many pounds of tomatos do we plan to harvest?   What did we actually harvest?  Get the percentages of actual versus predicted harvest.  What is the percentage of daily plant growth.  When the harvest is brought to the kitchen there is no way to avoid fractions.  Make a recipe for 4 into a recipe for 16.  What is the area of the beds needed to produce food for the family.  How much rain fell in the month. 

Ah, I almost forgot about weather when I was talking about science.  Track rainfall amounts, clouds and cloud types, wind speed and direction, graph temperatures.  Again, the possibilities are endless.  So math is a cinch in the garden. 

Drawing or painting the way the garden looks is something that will add to a child’s understanding of art, color, composition, texture and light.  Photography is important in recording the growth and activity in the garden.  There are so many craft projects that can be done with plants.  Leaf prints are great.  Leaf prints can be placed on fabric by painting the leaf and pressing on the fabric. 

Then finally I think perhaps the most important thing the child can learn is that it is possible to be independent.  It is possible to take care of yourself without intrusion from outside forces.  The child will learn that we really do live from the Earth.  The Earth is the creation of God given to us as a gift to sustain ourselves in a healthy, wonderful way.  Children will learn the value of work, the value of effort, and the value of caring for the Earth, ourselves, our dwellings and our families.  They will learn that with just a little effort one can get an education, food, and happiness.  I’m going out to the yard now to get it going again.  How about you?

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