Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Seedlings Family Eco-Daycare

If you're a working eco-parent with a toddler, have we got a recommendation for you.

As a new mom, Jennifer Holden Wilbur went in search of a daycare that was in line with her principles and practices for her own little one like choosing nutritious, organic food and avoiding toxics and plastics, for instance. When she couldn't find one even among the most highly recommended facilities, she toyed with creating her own.  And she did. 

With a professional background in psychology and years of teaching nutrition to school-aged kiddos (not to mention a good decade of babysitting experience), Jennifer decided to give it a go. And she did it right, going back and getting early childhood education to add to her qualifications. In 2008 after some home remodeling and baby-proofing, the encouragement of her grandmother-in-law, a former daycare operator, and the day to day help of her own mom, a retired nurse, Seedlings Family Daycare in the foothills of Glendale was in business. 

We love that it wasn't any one fact, figure, speech, or sermon that led Jennifer to develop a special, green-minded place for tots, but that she followed her intuition and her heart that what she felt was best for her son might be good for other kids too. 

So what does it mean that Seedlings is green?

*Healthy, fresh, organic food emphasizing whole grains and vegetables with some hormone-free, free-range poultry. Yes, these kids get to enjoy kale or spinach infused pancakes. And they do--with relish!

*A visually soothing atmosphere with plenty of natural decor (think pictures of nature and neutral tones).

*Carefully researched and selected toys made from safe materials like wood or secondhand plastic so that no new plastic is purchased (she really likes Plan Toys and Melissa and Doug  playthings). For the outdoor playset, Jennifer couldn't find anything wood so opted for a safe plastic that can be recycled at the end of its use.

*Outdoor activities in a secure, natural backyard complete with playground certified wood chips and dirt. Seedlings are apt to play games inspecting local wildlife (aka ladybugs and earthworms) and are even getting in on the gardening action--watering and then enjoying strawberries and sweet peas from Jennifer's potted garden.

*Attention to details like the use of natural, cotton-filled mats instead of chemical-smelling foam ones and wooden lunch tables made from sustainable, formaldehyde-free wood.

From talking with Jennifer, I know that if I were a toddler or a toddler's parents, her daycare would be at the top of my list. She's created a place for kids that's conscientious, clean, calming, and filled with eco-fun. It's got everything kids need: healthy food, safe, educational toys, caring adults, and access to plenty of time spent in the great outdoors (but just their size).

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