by Wendy Fachon and Jeanine Silversmith
Healthy fun is coming to the Rhode Island Flower Show at the Convention Center in Providence on February 19-22! This year’s theme is “Garden Adventures” and it promises to deliver fun for the whole family. The magnificent gardens not only offer ideas and inspiration for outdoor living spaces, but many will be interactive and engage all ages.
For the first time, a network of organizations committed to environmental education come together to present “A Garden Edventure,” an interactive garden where families can play, create and explore while learning the benefits of getting outside and back to nature. The network, the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association (RIEEA) www.rieea.org, recognizes that interaction with nature is important for the physical, mental and emotional health of children and adults.
The majority of materials used in the garden are re-purposed and native, illustrating that everyday items can be transformed into garden elements with just a little bit of creativity. Upon entering the garden, children can climb through an eight foot tunnel, made from a section of plastic culvert tubing that was destined for the landfill. The Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association got hold of the tubing to cover with sod and landscape with plantings and rocks.
Four additional play areas will surround the tunnel garden. The first is a Fairy House area. The Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, with the help of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, is creating a life-sized fairy house out of recycled pallets. Families can explore inside this structure and then go outside to construct their own fairy houses from natural materials such as sticks and leaves.
Roger Williams Park Zoo is coordinating efforts on two other play areas, Fort Building and Nature Art. The fourth area will be a Sensory Garden constructed from recycled tires. It will feature herbs, flowers and vegetables, selected to delight the senses. Rhode Island Families in Nature (RIFIN) will be using various sized tires to create several ‘tire creatures’ to add a touch of whimsy, and Rhode Island College is constructing benches from recycled pallets for visitors to sit while their children play.
This year, RIEEA is also helping to coordinate fun and educational programming for the Kids Adventure Zone on the fifth floor, where storytelling, puppet shows, and animal demonstrations along with ongoing self-guided activities will be happening. Some highlights include the Roger Williams Park Zoo Zoomobile, the Audubon Society of RI’s owl presentations, Save The Bay’s marine touch tanks, garden and flower activities by the Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England, a Norman Bird Sanctuary puppet show, Netwalking’s Flower Show Scavenger Hunt.
Everyday promises new adventures for families looking to connect more closely with nature during the winter school vacation break. For a complete listing of presentations, visit the Flower Show website. Beyond good fun, this is a tremendous opportunity for Rhode Islanders to learn how to get involved with some of the many environmental organizations that are working together to create a healthier, happier Rhode Island. Perhaps this is matchmaking at its finest, getting people into healthy infatuating relationships with Nature.
Check out this video link for a more in-depth look.
Wendy Fachon is a writer and an independent afterschool educator for Child Opportunity Zones in Pawtucket and North Kingstown. She is also a member of the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association. Learn more at www.netwalking.com.