Hillcrest Orchard Camp, Brooklyn, WI, July 2023

God’s Gardens: 12 Phases of Plant and People Relationships for Youth and Families

Gardens are a microcosm of our world. Given that The Garden was God’s first work of art, it is the blessed role of Lightworkers and The People of Light (Baha) to dress and keep the garden beautiful, to be fruitful and multiply all that is good. 

Nourished by the Transformational Leadership capacities of a principle-based vision, unity in diversity, and creative initiative, Junior Youth at the Hillcrest Orchard Camp in Brooklyn, Wisconsin (July 6-10) experienced the ways in which certain plants, like people, thrive as companions in containers—all as food and flowers of one garden. 

Our team’s ongoing cocreation of a more beautiful world sets the humble intention to strengthen children as seedlings “so that each may become a fruitful tree, verdant and flourishing.”

Offering the metaphor of humanity as flowers of one garden, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Philosophy states: “In reality all are members of one human family—children of one Heavenly Father. Humanity may be likened unto the vari-colored flowers of one garden. There is unity in diversity. Each sets off and enhances the other’s beauty.”

Youth can learn the steps of creating a garden of companions and become inspired to implement this philosophy in their relationships with themselves, their friends, and their families:

1. Sacred Flow: Establishing a Foundation of Rich, Healthy Soil. How can fertile soil invite a commitment to cocreate joy, hesed (conventional love), and group identity to make way for healthy corrections (amendments to the soil)?

2. Sacred Force: Defining the Container. What companions (such as potatoes and petunias) will we plant and how could they organically encourage one another’s growth?

3. Opening Up: Allowing Seeds to Open Up. Which seeds benefit from soaking and which, like wildflowers, can be sown directly in the ground?

4. Timing: Planning Ahead. When should certain seeds be sown indoors in preparation for spring and summer?

5. Adversity: Accustoming Your Seedlings to Hardship. How can seedlings, like developing people, be transitioned from the home (indoors) to the garden (outdoors)?

6. Spacing: Giving Each Plant Enough Room to Grow. What virtues can be developed by giving each plant the needed space for its roots to grow and receive nourishment?

7. Deadheading, Pruning, and Weeding: Disintegration Leading to Abundance. How can pinching wilted blooms, pruning dead branches, and uprooting certain invasive species create positive Integration?

8. Growing Together: Bestowing Kindness, Generosity, and Care. How can plants, like people, work to protect and love one another? How might spiritual sustenance compare to the use of fertilizer in the garden?

9. Clear Communication: Understanding Needs for Nourishment. How can people communicate clearly as trees quietly communicate their needs and send each other nutrients through a “wood wide web” of fungi buried in the soil?

10. Maturity Bringing Closeness: Forming an Agreement. How do plants, like people, cocreate covenants in a defined container with specific soil and grow close to one another with loving mutuality?

11. Harvesting: Savoring the Fruits of One’s Labor. What spiritual and physical health is experienced through the mindful use of food as medicine?

12. Dormancy, Death, and Rebirth: How does cutting down a dormant perennial such as Echinacea send energy to its roots for the flower to emerge the following season? What moral lessons can be learned from the resurrection of plants and the practice of composting?

The Companion Gardening program by Sienna Mae Heath, The Sovereign Gardener nourishes the belief that members of humanity are flowers of one garden. Children and families are guided in companion planting food and flowers of many gardens, coming to an applied understanding of complex relationships between food and flowers (and people) inspired by Transformational Leadership Capacities of a Principle-Based Vision, Unity in Diversity (contrast), and Creative Initiative.

Hillcrest Orchard Camp was sponsored by Desert Rose Baha’i Institute and The Royal Falcon Foundation. Royal Falcon Foundation’s Mission as led by Angela and Wade Fransson intended for upcoming events is to “create transformational programs that are attractive to young people from a variety of circumstances, which provide opportunities for spiritual growth and moral education through nourishing and challenging experiences—empowering them to embody nobility, think independently, form new friendships, become proponents of unity, and work to integrate diverse perspectives within their communities.”

You can view a video of the camp here (royalfalconfoundation.com), produced by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Jafar Fallahi. If you’d like to get involved, or know a tween or teen who could benefit, programs for the entire family, including training for those wishing to assist at sponsored camps or conduct similar camps will be held in October at the Desert Rose Baha’i Institute in Arizona; and in January 2024 in Orlando, FL. Please contact Wfransson@gmail.com for information. If you’re 11-15 and would like to attend, or 16 and older and would like to learn how to serve at camps like this, feel free to register for the upcoming Transformative Leadership Workshop being conducted at the Desert Rose Baha’i Institute.

For local friends, I’ll be presenting my new Companion Gardening curriculum at Greenshire Institute’s Spa for the Soul Day on September 10 at 4pm and during my Herbal Tea Gardening workshop on October 7.

Register for the workshop here (or contact me directly at sienna.m.heath@gmail.com): https://greenshireinstitute.org/herbal-tea-gardening



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