there is an ongoing conversation between parents and a few teachers in one of our schools about not planting raspberries b/c they have thorns. i've provided them all w/ some friendly insights, wondering what others have to say about this... should be some fun discussions

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Comment by Juliet Robertson on September 24, 2010 at 2:03pm
I provide schools with a Royal Horticultural Society list of poisonous plants species. It makes for interesting reading in that many common plants like tulips are mentioned because the bulbs are poisonous if eaten. I check to see if any child has become ill in living memory through ingestion of a bulb. Then we tour the grounds. I point out some of the other "hazardous" plants and have a discussion about how these are managed to reduce the risk and whether there has been any recorded accident or injury. It helps put a sense of perspective on the risk posed from many plants.

With regard to thorns...I do know of an incident where a parent complained about her child having a splinter removed from her hand - invasion of privacy or something bizarre like this. The way I'd go is to cite the benefits of growing raspberries and how this enables children to learn appropriate behaviour around such plants and all the associated learning - about risk, harm, science, healthy eating, etc. I'd invite parents to join in gardening sessions. And most importantly, I'd ask the children whether or not they wished to grow raspberries even taking into account the thorns. I'm sure most children would like to grow them. The raspberries can be cited away from places where the children might run or fall into them.
Comment by Ken Finch on September 24, 2010 at 10:24am
Hey Bobbie -- nice to "see" you here! Give me a call -- lots to kick around.
Comment by John Thielbahr on September 24, 2010 at 9:06am
Hi Bobbi. The first thing I would do is give a copy of Last Child in the Woods to all of the participants in this discussion, or at least a copy of Rich's Orion Magazine article if they don't want to read the book. The fact that this discussion is even happening is evidence of the real fear and litigation-averse society we live in. We have lost all perspective of what a life's journey is all about. I quote Rich's famous line often: "Yes there is danger in nature, but there is far more danger to children and our society (and our souls) by keeping our children (and ourselves) under virtual house arrest." Thanks for sharing this with us. I will be interested in other points of view. John

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