“Del Monte” Festival: spreading seeds

Every year, Planta! celebrates the World Environment Day with a festival that gathers hundreds of Cubans, specially kids. This event is known as “Del Monte” Festival. It’s a hands-on learning experience, filled with science. Kids and teenagers discover and explore the world of natural sciences through games that aim to develop skills for research and observation.

 

Date: 06/09/2019

 

Finally the day arrived. The one that many Planta!’s volunteers await every year. After several days of intense prep work everything is ready. Some of us arrive early at Quinta de Los Molinos to finalize details. In about an hour, the place would be packed with children eager to learn.

 

What years ago started as a festival to promote the values and the singularity of the Cuban flora, has become the most diverse and entertaining science festival of the city. All the activities are organized by stations, 25 in total, covering a diversity of topics.

Many Planta!’s volunteers gather every year to help organize “Del Monte” Festival.

Alejandro is coordinating our tasks, and the festival is about to start. We gather to discuss the final instructions. “Please remember, it is most important that our visitors create experiences from which they can learn”, he tells us right before opening the gates. “Del Monte” Festival  has just begun.

Multiplying Knowledge

Ayeli welcomes our visitors at the gate. She hands them a small card that will be filled at every station. She explains that the more stations they visit the better prizes they will receive at the end. Every child can use that card to win prizes as they play and learn. All of them go home with prizes and also encouraged by an experience that brings them closer to nature.

“Del Monte” Festival aims to promote children’s curiosity and to develop skills for research and observation.

The garden of La Quinta de Los Molinos is suddenly filled with smiles and voices. The stations are revealed little by little, like surprises. Daniela and Omarito do body painting with endemic threatened plants of Cuba, Laura and Betty are teaching about invasive species; Randy shows the importance of bats; the microbiology team -Reynier, Dayli and Jorgito- talks about the life of microorganisms and their use; Gabriela plays twister with parts of a plant and Adriham teaches them how to use the tools of a field biologist. There is a little bit of everything.

Children of all ages enjoy the Festival.

Many children use a microscope for the very first time and discover the micro world fascinated. Some of them prefer the game called “Identify it”, where they learn about plants and botany in a fun and entertaining way. All of them enjoy the morning in the garden of La Quinta de Los Molinos, where there is also the only butterfly garden of Cuba.

Luna’s story

Luna, like any other kid, has big dreams. She loves nature, partly because of the influence of her mother Alenna, a Biology professor, but also due to what she has learned while attending to these festivals. This little girl is already a Planta! “alumni”. She has come to every “Del Monte” Festival and every year she awaits it excited.

Luna looks forward to come the Festival, every year she finds something new that motivates her and brings her closer to nature.

“I always learn something new, I am always surprised” Luna says. She is only eight years old and she already knows about photosynthesis. She knows how to set a camping tent and she is aware that she lives in the island with the higher number of plant species per square kilometer.

“My daughter Luna looks forward to come to the Festival. Every year she finds something new that motivates her and brings her closer to nature. Planta! has encouraged her curiosity for life and has contribute to her appreciation for nature and the world that surrounds her”

Alenna Vázquez

Biology Professor and Luna’s mother

The best surprise

This year, “Del Monte” Festival had a special surprise. Children from the school “Solidaridad con Panamá” also assisted at the Festival. This is a school for children with disabilities and they were coming to the Festival for the first time. It was wonderful to see them playing at every station, learning and inspiring everyone around them.

When the Festival ends the volunteers tidy up the stations and gather for the team picture. Despite the fatigue, our faces reflect the joy and the satisfaction of our hearts. We take pride in being a Planta!’s volunteer and our contribution to form future generations of nature advocates is our biggest inspiration. There is no greater gift.

Del Monte” Festival is organized every year by Planta! and the Cuban Botanical Society at the garden of Quinta de Los Molinos, it is a science festival awaited by many children.

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