Potato Leek Soup!

It’s been a wild and wonderful time in the garden! We have successfully planted out all the beds with fall lettuces, winter onions, peas, chard, kale, and garlic. We also dedicated two small plots to edible cover crops, namely corn salad and fava beans. Those can be snacked on until Spring when we will till them into the soil to add organic matter. Fava beans are especially wonderful as they are nitrogen fixers – that is, they pull nitrogen from the air and form nodules on their roots which nourish the soil. We’ve spread compost and filled the worm bin with strips of newspaper and dried leaves for bedding, and added red wiggler worms to eat some of the fruit and veggie waste from the lunchroom. We’ve tidied around the garden and kept it looking nice.

Last week and this week, we taught a lesson about the Makah Ozette potato. This potato has been tended by the Makah people of Washington for the last 200 years, after being brought here directly from Peru by Spanish explorers.  It’s a wonderful earthy-tasting fingerling potato that has adapted very well to our climate, and we now grow it on our school garden. We talked about why potatoes were so important to the native people  – they are tasty, nutritious, and store well. Check out this earlier blog post by garden parent Grace for more fascinating information about this potato https://snappdragons.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/slow-food-the-story-of-the-makah-ozette-potatoes/.

Our amazing garden parents donated homegrown potatoes and made this nourishing and delicious soup which we served to the kids. We saw a lot of smiling faces licking the cups clean and asking for seconds and thirds, and we have had requests for the recipe. So here it is!

Potato Leek Soup (by Grace Hensley)

  1. Dig up, wash (scrub) all of your potatoes, and trim off any green parts or tough ‘eyes’.  If using Makah Ozette potatoes, don’t bother to peel them.  Cut them into 1″ pieces or chunks.
  2. Pull 4 leeks from your garden, trim the roots, discard most of the green tops. Slice in half lengthwise, and wash the leeks well.  Cut into thin rounds.
  3. Saute leeks in 2 tablespoons of olive oil (dairy free!) or butter (yum!) until soft.  You can add garlic and onions, too.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon thyme, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, and stir for about 30 sec.
  5. Fill up the pot with water, add 2 bay leaves, 2 celery stalks cut in half, and all of your potatoes.
  6. Boil until potatoes are soft.
  7. Remove the bay leaves and celery.
  8. Use your immersion blender to make a puree.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, wait until soup cools(!) before blending in a regular blender. [Trust me, you can’t clean soup off the ceiling.]
  9. Season with salt and pepper until it tastes good.
  10. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Don’t have makah ozette potatoes? You can still find some at area farmers markets. While many markets have closed for the season, the Ballard and University District Farmers Markets operate year-round, and many farmers still have choice produce available.


Rowan Maya Lang
Snappdragons Garden Educator
Cascadia Elementary School



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.


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!


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.


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.


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

Hello friends,

I am pleased to announce that Garden Education classes begin on Friday, September 25th.Our seven 3rd grade classes are split into Cohort A and B and will be alternating weeks in the garden with Rowan and company.

Cohort A meets this Friday, September 25th.

Cohort B will meet Friday, October 2nd

I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Morford’s students in the classroom last week to talk about what we will be doing in the garden. They also learned a song, “Dirt Made My Lunch” that we’ll be singing in the garden. We are so excited to get started next week!

We also recently hosted the first Garden Work Party of the season. Intern Daoud discovered that the large elm tree in the middle of the raised bed garden had sent masses of micro-roots into all the raised beds, stealing nutrients from the annuals. That’s something we’ll have to work on long-term. At this work party, Daoud valiantly plunged his hands deep into the soil of the raised bed next to the wall and cleaned it of roots. That will be a great spot for winter root vegetables. Thanks, Daoud!


Intern Hannah applied her pruning expertise to cleaning up the native plant garden, some of which had gotten pretty cooked by the hot sun over the summer. She also cleared off the coveted sit spot on the tree stump. Thanks, Hannah!


Saffron, a 5th grader, and her mom Sydney came to help with the garden. Sydney is an urban farmer and they both did a stellar job weeding. We also checked out the worm bin situation and noted that it would need refreshing with new bedding and worms once the kids harvest the finished worm compost inside. Sydney offered to bring worms by when we are ready for them. Saffron and Sydney took home some pruned branches and weeds for their pet bunny to munch on.
Saffron took advantage of the tree trunk sit spot to lean through the branches and do a little weeding:

1st grader Sophie and her mom Eva also came to help in the garden. We mixed up some fish emulsion fertilizer and they watered the whole garden together! Sophie also helped to sweep the path with one of the kid-sized brooms. Unfortunately my phone was having issues in the moment and I couldn’t take pictures of the two wonderful ladies in action, but I sure appreciated their help!

We will probably have another work party in early Spring, and in-between there will be other opportunities for parents and for kids of all grade levels to help out and enjoy the school garden. Thanks so much for your support, I look forward to working together to build this great garden experience for the children.
Rowan Maya Lang
Snappdragons Garden Educator
Cascadia Elementary School

Welcome Rowan

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Hello gardeners and parents! My name is Rowan Maya Lang, and I am looking forward to an exciting year of adventures and learning in the Snappdragons Garden. Some of you may remember me as an intern with Cohort A in last spring’s garden program. I am thrilled to take on the role of Garden Educator this year. I love to garden, and I love to share my knowledge in fun and engaging ways with kids and adults. I am a lifelong learner and hope to instill curiosity and joy for the natural world into my students. The third grade classes at Cascadia Elementary will be meeting every other Friday from September-November, and February-June.

A bit about me: I am an urban homesteader in South Seattle, where I grow food in my organic garden, keep chickens, and work as a community activist to support food justice and organic urban farming. I’m a core volunteer at Beacon Food Forest, a public permaculture project that is transforming public land into an 7-acre regenerative food garden. At Seattle Tilth, I have volunteered with the Adult Education program, and worked as an outreach educator for their Master Recycler and Master Composter program. In 2014, I interned at Tilth’s Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands for 6 months, where I grew vegetables from seed to harvest for their annual plant sale, CSA, and community food bags programs.

I hold a certificate in Permaculture Design from the Permaculture Institute USA, taught by Toby Hemenway; Master Food Preserver, Seattle Tilth; Master Composter and Recycler, Seattle Tilth. In late 2015, I will be adding to my education as a Fruit Tree Steward through City Fruit. When I’m not teaching and volunteering, I work as a Fine Gardener at private homes, and grow organic vegetable seedlings for the Second Use Handmade and Homegrown Spring Sale in South Seattle.

Now, let’s get our hands dirty and have some fun!

Rowan Maya Lang
Snappdragons Garden Educator
Cascadia Elementary School

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APP@Lincoln Elementary School in Wallingford seeks interns to work alongside our garden educator, Lisa Taylor (formerly the Seattle 2may3Tilth Children’s Garden Coordinator), in hands-on lessons with third graders in the school garden. Interns will gain experience in outdoor education and organic schoolyard gardening while helping to lead small groups of students during spring gardening sessions.

Our garden season runs from mid-February through June 5th. Students will be grouped into two rotations and will have garden time every other week. Interns may choose to follow one cohort, and thereby work every other week, or follow both cohorts and work weekly. The time commitment is 11:30-3:15 on Fridays.

If you would like the opportunity to get some hands-on experience working with students in garden-based education, please email your letter of interest to KimberlyChristensen@live.com. Please include either a resume or summary of relevant education/experience.

Lisa Taylor - School Garden CoordinatorWe are delighted to announce that Lisa Taylor, former Seattle Tilth Education Program Manager, has accepted the position of Garden Coordinator for our school garden!  Our PTA has generously funded her position from February through the end of June!  She will be working with the third grade team to develop a garden activity calendar and to lead exciting outdoor-classroom activities.  Her leadership will guide both teachers and parent volunteers to become more confident in our garden. Lisa has over 20 years of teaching children and adults in garden settings.  As a certified parent educator for Positive Discipline, she will provide a calm and positive influence.  She has a deep understanding of composting and permaculture and has written and spoken on urban farming and children’s gardening throughout the northwest.  Her books, “Your Farm in the City” and the major update to the “Maritime Northwest Garden Guide” belong on every gardener’s shelf. We’re really excited to be working with Lisa and look forward to your joining us in the garden this spring.