We grew a prize cabbage bigger than a basketball!
We had a great time weighing and and calculating how many ounces per student a 8 1/2lb cabbage would feed.
We then paired it with a purple cabbage and chopped and shredded and then fed 80 students about 2 ounces each.
A few weeks ago I led a garden poetry class for my 2nd and 3rd graders at Summerland Elementary, and I was blown away with their haikus. It’s natural really 😉 The garden is a perfect place for inspiration. My favorite poet, Mary Oliver, writes almost exclusively about the natural world, but her subject is never just nature and it’s beauty, though that would be enough. She often uses the natural world as a lens through which to see the whole world, to examine our priorities and reflect on life.
Our school gardens serve much the same purpose. They are not merely beautiful, peaceful spaces, though they are that. They serve as forums to bring education to life and give it real world context, playgrounds for children to interact with the natural world, science labs where they can safely explore and experiment, and sanctuarys where they can escape the hectic playground and find beauty and peace.
It’s so very important that spaces like this be provided for children. These haikus speak to that so beautifully.
GEM at Summerland and Aliso Elementary
Plants are beautiful
Plants are life and love and change
Plants can be cool too – Luke
Leaves are very cool
They make their food for the plant
Precious plants make food – Cason
Spirit flowers grow
in a pace, position slow.
It is wonderful! -Evan
1st graders at Hapgood Elementary acted as Animal Detectives searching for insects, birds and other animals in the school garden. They turned over logs to find worms, observed rolly pollys on a rotting pumpkin, and noted a hummingbird pollinating a shrub. Students sketched these critters and silently observed as scientists. Finding and observing snails was a highlight for the students. Near the end of the class, the teacher decided to have the students observe the movement of the snails with a “race” and the entire class gathered around to watch!
1st Grade Snail Race
I see the red, plump tomato.
Ripe and ready to eat,
but no one picks it.
Why does no one pick you?
I picked you and bit into you.
I thought you were a tomato,
but you were a bell pepper!
You tasted like watermelon mixed with hot peppers.
Now you’ve been picked
and are being digested
by my stomach acid.
On October 15th, Goleta Family School hosted a garden workparty in concert with the school’s traditional Harvest Festival to revitalize and enhance the garden.
Over 80 parents and students showed up to lend a hand in their school garden. The huge install day included the creation of an ADA path, new redwood raised beds, a passion fruit pergola, three trelli for fruiting vines, an outdoor stump classroom, and the building of lots of fertile soil. It was a great mix of food, music, and hard work. All the kids pitched in with mini-sized shovels, rakes, and spades. Huge piles of decomposed granite, mulch, and soil disappeared in a few hours, confirming the old adage that ‘many hands make light work’.
Slowly but surely the garden is growing into winter. Since the workparty, students have planted a mandarin, fig, and papaya tree. In addition, students have planted mesclun greens, red lettuce, onions, shallots, fava beans, sugar snap peas, red and golden beets, carrots, cilantro, thyme, mint, oregano, and an assortment of flowers.
Community workdays are an essential part of the s’cool Gardens’ mission. Through community building, spreading gardening knowledge, and having fun, the program seeks to foster the longevity of garden programs throughout SB County. The generous support of many local businesses including, Healing Grounds Nursery, IV Food Co-op, Goleta Island Feed and Seed, and Bagel Café, also contributed to the success of the GFS garden. Thanks to everyone who created such a wonderful event!
Thanks to a generous donation from Carpeteria in Goleta, the kids now have carpet squares to take to find their own special spot in the garden to work. In this writing exercise, we were imagining what it would be like to be a scarecrow. I think the scarecrow at Franklin/Adelante looks pretty happy, replete with recycled skateboard wheels for hair, from Art from Scrap.
We s’Cool Garden educators work every week in our organic gardens to convey the virtues of sustainable management to our kids. Discussing concepts like environmental stewardship and healthy eating and dialoging with students about how to live our lives in ways that create healthy people, healthy plants and a healthy planet. We teach out students about composting and worm bins, cover crops and beneficial insects. And they love it. They eat it up, literally and figuratively. Gobbling up tomatoes and strawberries right off the plants and reminding each other why it’s safe to eat the food that way, “It’s organic, you don’t have to wash it”, “It’s just a little dirt, you can brush that off'”. It’s a wonderful thing for children to form an intimate relationship with a garden and with their food, it connects them to their world and to their health in a way that, I think, nothing else can. Which is why I think it’s so important to maintain these spaces as organic and why I’m so proud to be a part of the Summerland school community’s push to make their school and hopefully the entire Carpinteria School District a pesticide free zone. I feel reinvigorated this morning about fighting that good fight after an inspiring turn out to last night’s CUSD Board meeting to discuss pesticide use in schools. I spoke briefly, representing the garden and my voice was joined by so many other concerned community members, from parents and teachers to doctors and local grounds keepers who have “gone organic”. All were expressing their concern, but more importantly I feel, they were presenting viable solutions and offering their individual expertise and personal time to help the school district make the switch. It will be interesting to see how the board processes all that they heard last night and what comes of it. I am aware of how slow and laborious they kinds of bureaucratic processes can be, but I am also very hopeful and inspired by the outpouring of support for this worthy and important cause.