Create A Mystery Garden
and Mail It to Friends for Easter
Nothing is more fun for children than creating a garden of their very own and watching it grow. This spring you can capture their imagination with a creative activity from the Rodale Institute that combines recycling and gardening ' and is easy to do in the kitchen. The Rodale Mystery Garden adds a new twist to gardening: children create their own homemade recycled paper 'garden' and sow their choice of seeds into it. When finished, the Mystery Garden can be planted at home or mailed to friends as a unique Easter gift. If planted in good soil and given plenty of water, sunshine and care, the seeds will sprout a few weeks later and the hidden garden will be revealed.
The Rodale Institute uses many activities to educate children about the connection between healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people. At their experimental farm in the scenic Pennsylvania countryside, children learn how taking care of our soil can ultimately lead to healthier food and healthier people around the world. Lessons are presented in a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits in a fun and interactive environment. Open year 'round to the public, the institute includes a colorful and stimulating Children's Garden that is fun for the entire family.
Families can also catch Rodale's exciting exhibits on the road. From April 16 to May 30, 1999, they will be exhibiting a "Regenerative Farm in North America" at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival in Florida. Entertaining audiences with demonstrations, the Rodale team illustrates the importance of growing our food in healthy, organic soil and even shows children how to feed our subterranean friends, the worms.
In addition to Epcot, the Rodale Institute has plans to bring their educational lessons to the Capital Children's Museum in Washington in 1999. An interactive website, accessible to children, parents and teachers from all over the world, will be up and running in early 1999. Specially-designed children's pages will take younger visitors on a journey of discovery with Professor Redworm, the Institute's mascot and a variety of education projects to do at home or in the classroom.
CREATING YOUR MYSTERY GARDEN
Recommended for ages 7 and up with parental supervision. Project time approximately 1 hour.
WHAT YOU NEED: Newspaper Water Wood picture frame (8" x 6") Cake pan or similar dish (10" x 8" or larger) Blender 2 pieces of felt, cut to a size that will fit inside frame Piece of fine chicken wire (9.5" x 7.5") Stapler Sponge Piece of cardboard or thick paper Mixed herb, flower, salad or vegetable seeds. Small seeds work best.
INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Place the wire to the front of the frame. Wrap it around the edges and staple it on the inside. 2. Shred the newspaper. Fill the blender with 2/3 paper and 1/3 water. Turn the blender on and process until a smooth paste with the consistency of a watery pancake batter is produced. Pour the paper pulp paste into the dip pan. Repeat the blending and pouring process four or five times. 3. Dip the frame inside the pan, wire side down, making sure that the paper pulp is covering the wire evenly. Bring the frame up slowly letting the water drain. You have just formed a sheet of paper. If the pulp is too thick, simply add more water. 4. Sprinkle seeds evenly over the sheet of paper inside the frame. Place one piece of felt on top of the paper and press down, slowly pushing the excess water out. Place the frame on a table with the second piece of felt underneath. Soak up the remaining water with the sponge. Gently remove the felt from the inside of the frame. 5. Quickly turn the frame over to flip your "Mystery Garden" paper out onto the cardboard. Let it dry by a sunny window or other warm place.
Congratulations! You have just created a beautiful piece of recycled paper with a garden hidden in it. Mail it to a friend with instructions to plant the paper in good soil. With plenty of water, sunshine and TLC, their "Mystery Garden" should sprout in a few weeks.
Return to the March/April Index page