Riverdale Farm Fall Harvest Festival

Today I spent a lovely sunny day hanging out with some earthworms and a whole lot of kiddos and their parents.  Riverdale Farm was having their Fall Harvest Festival in conjunction with the Cabbagetown Festival, and had asked if one of us from High Park would come and run some sort of garden-themed programming. I decided to stick to my go-to activity: meeting worms! I had the worm bin out, and also had a few worm story books that kids and parents could take a look at.

The entrance to Riverdale Park West, with tons of booths set up for the Cabbagetown Arts Festival.

The entrance to Riverdale Park West, with tons of booths set up for the Cabbagetown Arts Festival.

I initially set myself up in what I thought was an area that everyone would pass through while checking out the farm animals, but turned out not to be a super busy part of the farm. I then moved myself to a grassy patch way closer to the action. Earlier in the day, there were lots of wee kiddos – lots of 1-3 year-olds came and checked out the worms. Always fun and entertaining to adjust to working with the wee ones. I have gotten better at working with this age group, through hanging out with my now 20-month-old niece at the cottage, in parks and in the garden – I like spending time outside with her! I had quite a few of the little ones coming to check out the worms and even willing to hold them. For this age, I find that the most important thing is to just get them comfortable touching the worms (or other garden/nature critters), and then for me to share some interesting worm facts with their parents (and potentially get parents to get back to being comfortable hanging out with worms, like they probably were 30+ years ago…).

Riverdale Farm during the harvest festival.

Riverdale Farm during the harvest festival.

In the afternoon, there was a definite increase in older kids. Quite a lot of kids dropped by, which was super fun. Working at an event like this is definitely an adjustment from my regular programming, where I have a set group for a set period of time, and go through my standard “lesson plan”. At these events, there are hundreds of kids and parents who drop by, some for a minute, others for way longer. So here, my priority was to get the worms into the kids’ hands, and then asking them questions and getting them asking questions. I usually only had about 1-4 kids there at a time, which let me interact more one-on-one with them than I often get to when doing worm workshops at school or camp and have more kids with me at a time.  There was one probably 6-year-old girl who hung out for a good 20-30 minutes, helped show worms to other kids, and asked a zillion questions – amazing! There was also a lovely Danish family who had just moved to Toronto who I chatted with for a bit, and then the mom read “Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer” to them – translating into Danish as she read. Super sweet!

I also had fun chatting with lots of adults about the worms. I told lots of folks about the benefits of red wiggler worms (they’re tiny, but efficient composters, they are!), some vermicomposter basics, and had a few chats about the importance of teaching kids about worms and compost.

I’m back to my school gardens jobs soon, after a wonderful summer at EcoCamp. More on those soon!

Happy growing (and harvesting)!

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