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Archive for October, 2015

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Hello friends,

WOW, what an incredible first two weeks in the garden. It is an honor and privilege to work with such dedicated teachers, curious and engaged children, and brilliant interns.

Running garden classes starts with planning: class schedules, planting schedules, and sorting out the multitude of garden tasks into short, meaningful activities for the students.

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When the students arrived, we met up in a circle near the garden, introduced ourselves, and talked about our favorite vegetables. An awful lot of kids like broccoli and peas! Many children answered with a favorite fruit, and some answered with a vegetable that is actually a fruit, like tomato or cucumber. Their classmates were quick to correct them. One child’s favorite vegetable was “fruitcake”.  I guess that counts as a fruit?

We talked about the basic things that plants need to survive… including DIRT. We just so happened to have a song about dirt, “Dirt Made My Lunch”. The kids learned the words and the motions to go along with the song, and we sang and danced together. We have three musicians in the bunch of us, so we were able to get quite a groove going with the enthusiastic kids!

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Then we got to work. Some of the students were directed in a Sit Spot activity by intern Daoud and their teacher. They had a few moments of quiet contemplation as they discovered and drew an illustration of a plant in the garden.

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In the meantime, Summer or Hannah and I led garden activities. With Autumn in full swing, we needed to get the fall and winter plants into the beds fast! First step, though, was preparing the soil. The kids harvested finished worm compost from the worm bin and dug it into the raised beds, along with compost from Cedar Grove. There was a lot of searching for live worms in the bin as they went, and they were fascinated by the pill bugs, spiders, and centipedes they found. I made sure to collect all living creatures that were discovered so we could add them back to the worm bin post-harvest. They all wanted to take their new invertebrate friends home with them, but I explained that the critters needed to stay in the garden where they have important work to do.

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We had lots of collards left over from Spring garden classes and decided to snack on them. Many of the kids got to taste collards and examine the differences between collards and their cousins, kale. We harvested much of the collards as we’d rather have the space available to grow other goodies like lettuce, spinach, kale, and a cover crop of corn salad (mache)
We also found cabbage loopers (cabbage moth larvae) on the collards – they are very hard to see as they are the same green as the leaf and like to stretch out along the stem. But once I pointed one out, the kids were great at finding them and gently picking them off our beleaguered collards!

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There was plenty planting to do, and the energetic kids dove into the gentle art of planting.

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A highlight was digging for potatoes! A few lucky kids got to dig for buried treasure in our potato box. Since it doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, the potatoes were pretty small. Still, the students were overjoyed when they found one of the tubers, as excited as if they’d found a gold nugget.

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And finally, we allowed the kids in Ms. Rohrabachs class to host a small but pompous burial ceremony for a spider whose corpse was discovered in their classroom earlier that day. They buried it with many kind words at the base of the elm stump in the native plant garden.

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It’s starting to look like a real garden again, after a summer of vacations and drought. Daoud, Hannah, Summer, Jill and myself are all looking forward to an exciting fall and spring with the 3rd graders.

Big thanks to Jill Del Sordi for the photos!

Rowan Maya Lang
Snappdragons Garden Educator
Cascadia Elementary School

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