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The Reason Behind Tough Turtle

Written By: Kellie Meyer

A unqiue race benefits a garden with a purpose.

The Reason Behind the Tough Turtle

April 18, 2014

ITHACA (WENY) -- Some call it Ithaca's Hidden Treasure. A giant turtle welcomes you a the gate. Creatures big and small call Ithaca Children's Garden their home. And it feels that way for the families that come here. But this park has a purpose, it's more than just another playground.
     "The native people of this area have a story have a creation story that describes the beginning of the world starting on the back of a turtle. So the turtle has 13 scoots or shells on her back and those represent the 13 phases of the moon," began Erin Marteal, Executive Director of Ithaca Children's Garden.
     Kids learn about nature, the life cycle, sustainability, there's even edible gardens for taste testing.
     Marteal continued, "the mission of the garden is to inspire environmental stewardship and so we do that in a lot of ways. We do that through more traditional methods of plant science, how things grow, the science of life, but we also do it by creating a really enchanting magical space."
     Katie Dimpfl has been bringing her seven year old son here for five years. "They feel so comfortable in this space and they really have a lot of ownership of the garden and over the labyrinth and the turtles and they really feel like this is an extension of their home," said Dimpfl.
     The gardens mission is to engage kids. They can play. They can crawl and find their way through tough situations. They can get a little lost. And they can get a little dirty but it's ok with Mom and Dad.
     "There aren't a lot of places where kids can jump into nature and be part of it and get pieces of straw in their hair and build stuff and really kind of use natural materials to make the world what they want it to be," said Yamila Fournier, a site coordinator and visitor to the garden.
     This newly built anarchy zone, where kids are encouraged to get dirty, is a one of kind idea that can only be found in Ithaca's Children Garden.
     "It shows the value of play and allows a space for kids and their families to come and really support children and their right to design and direct their own play," said Marteal.
     Becca Jablonski and her daughter Lila have been coming here since the summer. Becca said, "we didn't have our own garden this year since we moved here in August and it has really been fun to bring Lila down and let her pick things from the garden and you know even know just that it's spring I can see the difference in the things she notices here. It's a wonderful, wonderful thing that Ithaca does."
      And because it's called Ithaca children's Garden doesn't mean it's just for kids.
The only requirement is you're young at heart.
     Fournier added, "it's a magical place, it's a wonderful place. Any place that can kind of give us that spirit of, that kind of childhood freedom, I think is a wonderful place to be in."
     In Ithaca, Kellie Meyer, WENY News.