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Children learn through growing trees

INLAND VALLEY DAILY BULLETIN

by Cana Tasci

Trees are helping the students grow at John L. Golden Elementary School in Cucamonga. On Feb. 15, Common Vision, a group dedicated to teaching children about the importance of a natural system on the Earth, visited the campus. They came in a veggie-powered caravan, bringing music, dancing, gardening and agricultural awareness to the young group.

"By allowing the children the hands-on experience of planting a fruit tree in their local school yard, they will not only, during the planting, feel the experience of connecting to the Earth, but over the next one, two, five years, they have the opportunity to care for that tree and watch it bear fruits and see how their efforts make a huge difference," said Michael Flynn, director of education for Common Vision

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., students were engaged by West African agricultural drumming dance performances, lessons on corn growth and digging into the soil to plant 15 to 20 fruit trees around the school.

Third-grade teacher Maureen Marino said the reason she wanted Common Vision to work with her students is so they can be active and have a better understanding of their surroundings.

"I think that the children need a new way of looking at their surroundings so they can respect what is around here and that they know that they just don't go into a grocery store and pick something up," Marino said.

"I know with my own children we grew our own broccoli and they ate it and they loved it, so when the children take part in something they take more pride in it."

The founder of Common Vision, Blair Phillips, said he saw a growing need in urban areas for a resurgence of youth excitement about working with the Earth and developing their relationship with her.

"As concrete seems to increase, the knowledge about our connection to the Earth decreases," Phillips said. "So Common Vision attempts to revitalize that relationship so that we don't go into the future forgetting where we (came) from."

For three months, beginning this month, Common Vision will tour California, visiting kindergartners through 12-graders, particularly in the inner city and in underdeveloped urban areas.

"The fruit tree season in California is February, March and April, so we work with those three months because the trees are in their dormant state," Phillips said. "We carry bare-root trees with us in our veggie-powered caravan."

Third-grade student Dylan Sellers helped his classmates plant a white peach tree.

"We took the soil out of the ground and we took the rocks out of the way so it can help the tree grow," Dylan said.

Although Dylan doesn't garden, he said he helps his dad pull weeds once or twice a year and he hopes today will make the environment "more beautiful," he said.

"After today we are going to let the tree live and not step on its roots and soil," Dylan said.

Unlike Dylan, third-grader Taynara Ebeigbe enjoys gardening.

"If I had my own garden I would put a lot of stuff in there because I eat a lot of different fruits because we eat them at home," Taynara said. "I think kids will like today because you get to dig and sometimes you don't get to do those things at home."

Jillian Trilliam, volunteer for Common Vision, said by implementing dance and music portions into their program, the children will learn more than just what is being taught in the text books.

"This is to allow to spark a lot of creative energy for them to see that you can learn and be a part of this socially and grow up but you can also use your creative energy to make music and learn too," Trilliam said.

Marino said today left a lasting impression on her students.

"I saw them doing breathing exercises with the (Common Vision) helpers and it's really cool because they are getting their whole body involved in it.

"It's just going to leave an lasting impression on them so that when they go home they can go into their yards and say `Oh, what can we put here?"' Marino said.

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