The lesson: Toddlers care for a garden to learn how plants grow and where their food comes from.

The lesson: Toddlers care for a garden to learn how plants grow and where their food comes from.

Something was missing on a recent day inside Andrea Johnson's classrooms at Children's World Montessori toddler program. Where were the toddlers?

The sound of laughter coming from outside answered the question.

Under a shade tree in the center of a spacious garden were two toddlers in swings. A small, colorful tent sat next to a pebble pathway bordered with ferns, berry bushes, sweet peas and flowers. The pathway led to a single raised vegetable bed filled with potato, bean, cherry tomato and carrot plants.

With the help of teachers Margarita Velazquez, Fabiola Reyes and Lidia Perez, toddler gardeners were planting lavender, raspberries and orange mint plants.

Joyfully, the kids examined roots, dug holes, dumped dirt and watered plants. All the jobs were orchestrated by head teacher Johnson and Montessori owner Marcy Behringer.

Most important of all, this was the day to thin out the carrot plants. The children pulled, pulled, pulled, and out came the tiniest and most tender carrots ever. Quickly the toddlers washed their freshly picked produce, and in two tiny bites, the carrots were eaten. Delicious!

­— Heidi Monjure