Urban Children Given the Opportunity To Learn About Nature

For the past month, I’ve embarked on a new natural lifestyle.  I have been walking around my neighborhood, for health and beauty’s sake, I’ve been eating more natural food, and eliminating junk food bit by bit.  I’ve been doing more studying of our black culture and have been uplifting my life in general, with God’s help.

And for that reason, I have decided to start going to the farmer’s market that happens in downtown Oakland every Friday.  It’s about two blocks long and wide, and has a very nice group of vendors selling vegetables and fruits.   There are also vendors selling kettle corn, soaps and perfumes, cakes and cookies.

As I browsed the market last week, I noticed a woman who had a small group of black children with her.  They were about  9 to 10 years old.  It seemed that they were on a little field trip.  Remember the times when you went on field trips?  Oh, how I loved field trips when I was a kid!  I so looked forward to them since they were a wonderful opportunity to get out of the confines of the classroom, to explore and have fun.

Well these children, maybe about 5 or 6 of them were having a ball at the market.  It was a nice day and the weather was perfect.  My path and the children’s crossed at the Plant Lady’s booth.  She was selling small herb plants, such as lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, tomato plants, basil, etc.  All for only $3 and $4 dollars a piece for the small ones.  She also had small trees.  (Now that’s a business I could really get into).  Then the teacher showed the children how these beautiful little plants actually release a scent when one rubs their leaves slightly.

Copley Square Farmer's Market

When the children realized this magical thing, they became very excited!  They were running back and forth around the rack filled with all kinds of little herbs and were nearly tripping over each other as they touched and rubbed the leaves of this plant and that plant.  “Hey, check out this one!!  It smells like perfume!”  “Oooh, that one smells good!”  “Oh, and this one!”  “Let me touch that one!”   It was so sweet to watch their exuberance at discovering that the little green plants actually smell “like perfume”.  What was also sweet was that the plant lady showed no concern that the children would bruise or damage her plants.  She probably enjoyed watching the children’s excitement.

It all reminded me of my sixth grade teacher who showed us how to sprout beans in a plastic cup using a paper towel.  I remember clearly that once I got home, I raided my mother’s bean supply and started sprouting to my heart’s content.  I totally loved it.  And as I grew, I always had the opportunity in my classes to do “experiments”, collect dirty water to observe under the microscope, dissect a frog, do artwork in my jewelry shop where we had access to dangerous machinery, do artwork in my ceramics class where we had access to a kiln.

And now days, I don’t know that children have this type of access anymore.  At least not in public schools.  Many schools dont even have physical education class, much less music and art class.   It’s a shame because some kids shine and excel at academics, and others at sports, science or arts.  Back then each child had an opportunity to shine somewhere.  My own son shined in music.  Back in the day, his father and I went through the hardships to get him in one school district over another, and we stretched the truth and manipulated to insure he’d get in a good school (something that would land me in jail these days).  I was able to get my son in an excellent music class once I got him in the school.

From one district in Oakland to another in San Francisco, he was in the 7th grade and that music program actually started for the kids in the 6th grade.  He entered the program in intermediate since he was already in the 7th grade at the time.  But he was able to catch up and quickly excelled all the kids who had been there since the 6th grade.  Music was his saving grace!  We patiently suffered his blowing that saxaphone until he got it right, and we didnt need to make him practice.

I guess I’m lamenting the demise of well rounded public schools.  But I was happy to see those children getting a basic education in the beauty of herbs and aromatherapy and nature.  I thank their teacher who had the foresight to take them to the Farmer’s Market, which was completely free, and very educational.  Teachers are always having to be extra creative, and are not supported the way they should be.  They have a heart for their students, (most of them) and often will pay for supplies out of their own paltry salaries, which to me is a travesty.   But I thank them for their sacrifice.

(That’s a picture of my son standing on the pumpkin at the pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay or some city.  He was about 7 or 8 so that would be about 1988 -89)

19 Comments Add yours

  1. I used to go to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Oakland until all the crazy protests started down there last fall. I haven’t been to Oakland since October because of that.

    Anyway, that’s a good market. There is also one in downtown Berkeley on Saturdays, have you been?

    That’s cool that kids saw a farmer’s market rather than just seeing food in a super market. Maybe they’ll get to go to a farm next.

    Lol, that pumpkin is almost as big as your son.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Hey Val! It’s crazy during the protests and I dont go anywhere near downtown when they’re protesting. But it’s always so peaceful and calm and cheerful at the Farmer’s Market. You would never know that protests happened days before. It’s weird but it’s Oakland.

      I havent been to downtown Berkeley’s market in many years. I might just go tomorrow. Oh but Berkeley scares me because the parking is so difficult in that city.
      I love that the kids were so hype about the perfume plants! lol The pumpkin was huge, Im sure it weighed more than him.

  2. Reggie says:

    I strive to eat healthy and exercise as well………….but hey, sometimes junk food is your friend.

    I want to eat healthy, but I also want to enjoy my life as well. I agree though, more of us should eat healthy and exercise far more than we’re doing right now.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Junk food is that friend that makes demands on your friendship. Like that brother that keeps begging for a couple of dollars here and there, but never repays….

      1. Reggie says:

        That’s why I stopped loaning that fool money Anna Renee.

        1. Anna Renee says:


  3. Lin says:

    Umm… this marks the second time I’m leaving this comment. Luckily I SAVED it! Yo! WordPress is tripping again!*

    Maaaaan, Anna May! This post brought me back to my kidhood, or rather it made me wanna REDO my kidhood.

    Your son is lucky to have you for a mom. You gave a damn & you wanted him to have the opportunities that you or the generation before him, didn’t. I WISH my parents had the foresight, or dreamed bigger dreams for me, or just had the confidence in my abilities to have enrolled my “special” (NOT in a short yellow bus way) azz in a self-defense class, or encouraged me to learn to play an instrument, or any myriad of childhood activities. But no. Oh well.


    I too loved those times when our class went on a field trip, because, living in the city, any change or deviation from the norm actually did ‘expand our horizons’… as our teachers used to say.

    Finally, I’m glad you’re continuing to taking this eating healthy thing seriously, & that it’s not some flavor of the month lark. BTW: It’s often said that if you can DO something or refrain from doing something for a month, then you’ve already made it a habit. The rest should be gravy.

    Society often makes it hard for us to continue to eat right, exercise & to live right because it constantly throws hurdles & temptations in our way. But frequenting places like a farmer’s market, sticking to whole foods, & walking instead of driving, taking cabs or public transpo can really make a difference.

    Mad props to you, Anna May!


    1. Anna Renee says:

      Though my mom was not a hands on touchy feely type, she did me one huge HUGE favor: she introduced me to books. I took it from there, and had a couple of good teachers, who gave a damn. I also had some bad ones and some indifferent ones.

      Field trips were the BOMB! I was an observant little thang, and I used to like to watch the look on the bus driver’s face when he saw the class of school kids bum rushing his bus! (We took public transpo) As long as it took to get us rambunctious kids on the bus and accounted for, we would mess the driver’s schedule all up! LOL It was part of the fun for me.

      When you said drink plenty water, I really needed to take that very seriously! Now I’m paying a small price, but I’m making sure to get my water in. It’s a learning process, because it’s so different from what I’m used to. My body is adjusting to being cared for with good foods. That’s a trip.

  4. Adminstrator says:

    I loved this post so much. I didn’t have time to respond on my phone earlier. These are the little things that children will remember. I take my kids there every year. Usually in the summer and fall seasons. They get to pick which veggies/fruit they want and they love those little fresh grapes. The grapes are like nothing in the stores.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      It’s these hands on type learning experiences that last a lifetime. A good teacher will make room for “field trips” to the best of her/his ability. I know the public school system of today makes it nearly impossible, though.

      1. Amenta says:

        Yeah, this post took me back. Back to when I was in school. We did go to the mountains just east of San Diego for field trips to look at the plants and animals, just to be out. It was really more close to what education should be.
        You know its really not hard to eat healthy. The process of detixing the body is the hardest thing (as I continue to grow in this process) I found the 10 days of eating nothing but salad and fruit, drinking herbal cleansing teas and water the toughest. Once that aspect is over and you have your mind made up, that you will not go back to eating fast feed and you buy nothing but olive oil or maybe peanut oil to cook with. Buy only Grassfed organic beef, organic chicken and wild caught fish, your palate will change. Your body would have released the parasites that crave the nonsense non nutrutional feed. You will try a burger or you will try fast feed chicken but you will not like it, you will taste the artificial sodium passed off as salt. You may feel queasy, and you will wonder how you ever at that ish before. Then eating right will be come easy.
        You will dream of eating fast feed, you will drive up to the window determined to by the junk, then just as you are about to order that burger, you will swithch and say “just gimme an order of fries” and you will walk out. This will go on for a while but you will notice two real things.
        1) You can afford organics because;
        2) You don’t eat hald as much as you used to.

        Anna Renee Thanks for this post it really made me feel good. One day come down to the A and make a trip to the Dekalb Farmers Market, of the State Farmers Market in Clayton County..Open e’day!


        1. Anna Renee says:

          This is sooo true. I went shopping the other day and was in the cake and cookie and sugar aisle and the smell of all those artificial sweets gave me a head rush!!! I had to get out of that aisle before I got a headache. That was weird. I was looking for grits, which I still love. 😉

      2. Amenta says:

        Excuse the typos I was in a hurry…LOL And you may drive up and only walk away if your car breaks down…LOL

  5. Anna Renee says:

    Something occurs to me: I remember that it was the boys who were so excited about the perfume plants. I dont remember if there were any girls in that small group. I dont think there were. Boys need the beauty of nature, too.

  6. Lin says:

    Yo, Sista Westsiiiide…

    re the consumption of water thing: You can always make it more interesting or just for a change of pace, add a slice of lemon, which also helps to curb the appetite. Or else add some fresh fruit like cherries, raspberries, strawberries or anything that gives it more color, but doesn’t add any extra calories might be a way to go. Just consume it. Learn to like & then maybe even LOVE you some H2o. It does all your bodily function/systems MUCH good!


    1. Amenta says:

      Lin, thank you. The fresh fruit is such a great idea. I will take that one for sure.

  7. Anna Renee says:

    The Most High is giving me alot concerning children these days. Here’s a sister who I found as I watched Sister Nubia I, who I found as I watched Sister Queen Afua! Anyway…..
    This video really touched my heart because Sister Imakhu Mwt Shekemet interacts so well with the children… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uh8Kas23rE

  8. Yes your post brought back memories. I loved field trips as a child. No Farmers Market that I can recall however I do remember going to the Bronx Zoo and making our bus driver crazy singing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall and Henry the 8th. Fun times. I loved science lab and did everything except dissecting the Mr. Frog. I made sure I was out sick that day. Could not bear to cut up Kermit. However the teachers got me because I was present the day we dissected a pigs ovaries. Inside were little pigs. I know that sounds stupid but we were so naive in those days. Nobody knew anything about sex back then so we were shocked to see baby pigs!

    Fast Forward to this past weekend. My baby brother celebrated his 51st Birthday May 3rd so basically as we ran around downtown Manhattan & also when we went to see The Avengers yesterday, we ate every kind of junk food that you can imagine. Pizza, popcorn, hamburgers, chips, cookies. Everything that two people in their 50s with high blood pressure, cholesterol and pre-diabetes should avoid. We will not tell our doctors, but we had the time of our lives!

    Oh yes we went to see Bodies — The Exhibition at South Street Seaport. Yes it is dead bodies preserved through removing the fluids and replacing with plastic. Fascinating! As you can see I’m no longer squeamish and my brother never was. It’s amazing seeing the human body as though we were forensic scientists, pathologists or Quincy and/or Dr. G Medical Examiner. If it weren’t for the smells I’d take a job in the Coroners office in a hot minute. Anyway my brother and I had lots of fun. Now back to the boring healthy diets!

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Well happy birthday to your brother!!! Sounds like you had a blast! Gave yourselves a nice little Field Trip!

      pig ovaries? eeeeeeeewwwwwwwww!!! lol
      I would not have been able to do that! Forensics seems to be very interesting, but I remember somewhere that what I see on TV CSI, is not how it goes down in real life.

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