his book is the work of three women—one a parent, one a teacher, and one the direc-
tor—at the Child Development Laboratories (CDL) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
(SIUC). Southern Illinois University Carbondale is located in extreme southern Illinois, 350
miles south of Chicago. The Child Development Laboratories are part of the Department of
Curriculum and Instruction within the College of Education and Human Services at SIUC. CDL
provides half-day and full-day care to children six weeks to six years of age. It also serves as
a teacher-training facility for students enrolled in Early Childhood Education and provides
opportunities for research for faculty members and students. Gardening has been part of the
curriculum at CDL since the early nineties. The garden highlighted in this book was built in
1997. Through this book, we hope to share with you not only the joy but also the intellectual
depth that gardening has brought to the curriculum at CDL.
Sara Starbuck has been the director of CDL since 1992. Before that, she was the preschool
master teacher there for seven years. Marla Olthof was the preschool master teacher at CDL
from 1993 to 1998, during the years that the garden was developed there. Karen Midden is a
landscape architect and an associate professor in Plant and Soil Science at SIUC. Her two
daughters, Lonzie and Nyssa, attended CDL from infancy until they started kindergarten.
In 1996 Karen approached Sara about starting a garden at CDL. Karen had come across a
grant application and thought we might be able to get funding to help us start the garden.
Karen also introduced Sara and Marla to Jessica Chambers, a master’s student in Plant and
Soil Science. Jessica researched children’s gardens and came up with a wonderful design that
would actually incorporate a number of children’s gardens into our playground. We sent off
the grant application and waited.