Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This Wednesday at Sanderlin the kids learned about seeds. The weather started out gloomy and drizzly, but soon the sun came out just in time for the kids to "be" a seed, stretch out their arms like they're sprouting, and turn to face the sun just like a flower might. The kids liked this so much we "grew into a plant" several times! We learned what common fruits have seeds--like peaches, oranges, and apples--and how a seed might get into the ground to grow--through the activities of squirrels, birds, and insects. We talked about what a seed needs to grow, and then it was time to get our hands in the dirt! The kids had lots of fun planting broccoli and radishes! One student very excitedly and proudly announced that he had recently planted black eyed peas with his grandparents; another student wanted to stay by the garden bed to watch the seed he planted grow. It's so wonderful to hear students so excited about gardening. In the coming weeks, we will be observing the growth of our garden and talking about the very important role of pollinators.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

This Wednesday at Sanderlin we had a garden work day. The weather was absolutely beautiful, with cool breezes and clear blue skies, and we had many hands show up to help set up and maintain the garden! Today we focused on weeding, adding fresh soil to garden pathways to make them safer and more comfortable to walk on, and on building a raised garden bed. To build the bed, we first start with a level layer of soil, upon which we place cardboard to block any weeds. We construct the wooden frame, place it on top of the cardboard at our chosen site, and line it with pond liner. After that we fill the bed with a thick layer of mulch, followed by layers of soil-builder, fresh fruit and vegetable scraps, ash, and coffee grounds. These will all decompose and create a wonderful soil full of nutrients for the plants! To top it all off, we finish with a thick layer of seaweed, which will retain moisture and help enrich the soil as it also breaks down.

The kids did not come out today but we are very excited for next week when we will be learning about seeds!

Freshly pruned banana trees!
A layer of cardboard

 Building the wooden frame

A layer of yummy and nutritious carrot, spinach, apple, and pineapple scraps!
A freshly made bed capped with seaweed. We are almost ready for planting!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October 14th Pre-K's First Adventure in the Garden

Last Thursday Ms Liz's wonderful Pre-K class had a great time exploring the garden at Sanderlin. We first asked the students what they think some garden rules might be. They hit the nail on the head with rules like "No kicking the plants" and "Don't eat the soil".  After we had outlined the safety guidelines we split up into three groups to learn about soil! 

The students sampled soil from the field, the garden beds, and the mulch pile and observed the differences in each. They noticed soil from the field was dry and sandy while soil from the mulch was dark and moist. We learned that plants usually prefer the darker wetter soil to grow in and that led us to talk about compost. 

The students learned how important compost is for the plants. After a brief explanation I asked again what compost is and one student yelled out, "old food!" and that led us into a conversation on the usefulness of "old food".

We learned that water collects nutrients from the soil and is then absorbed by the plants, just like when we eat a smoothie, the water is filled with vitamins that help us grow. To this one student remarked, "We're just like the plants!" 

At the end of the lesson we picked some beautiful bananas and brought them to Ms Liz's class for them to ripen and be enjoyed by everyone. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

First day back in the garden

Today was our first day in the garden with the students for this semester and it was so great! All the second graders filled the garden with their energy and smiles. Even the weather was perfect to go along with our first day back. The students were quick to observe the changes in the garden from the last time they had been out there and they were eggar to being exploring. We started by collecting different dirt samples from around the garden. We collected compost dirt, regular dirt, and some dirt from the garden itself. The students then took time to observe each dirt sample and it's characteristics and write and draw their observations. We also took some time today to walk around the garden a bit and just check things out. Today was very exciting and it was so great to meet all the kids! I'm looking forward to what this semester of gardening has in store.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A final day of fun

This week is the final week that us college students will be volunteering at the garden this semester. Finals are coming up followed by winter break. Since it is the last time we would be spending together in our groups the lesson for this week was a fun review, we had a scavenger hunt! In the hunt we has some easy items to find, such as a leaf, and some harder ones that I talk about later.

This group of students were looking in our three sisters garden for some pollinators. Earlier in the semester we learned about good bugs for the garden and harmful bugs for the garden, pollinators and decomposers were memorable words for the students because it meant they could go look for bugs!  
In this picture students were playing on the mulch pile after they found decomposers. One of the volunteers Scott was excited to join them. After looking for bugs we found good and bad soil for plants to grow in. The students were clever in finding the good verse bad soil. Many students would find a dead plant and think that was where the bad soil was, but I had to remind them plants don't just depend on soil to grow and perhaps there was something else wrong with the plant for it to be dead. Still I was impressed with them remembering one of our first lessons. 

Before our classes left we would let them take one of the plants back with them. The second week of lessons we planted radishes and students were excited how big they had grown. This one above is the largest one to grow, so of course it was the first one to be picked! I would say it is the biggest radish I have ever seen. 

All and all I would say the students had a great time with this lesson. I am sad to be done with teaching, but hopefully I will have time next semester to volunteer again. 


Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving for Curiosity

School was out this week for Thanksgiving, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving I am thankful for the kindergartners whom I've had the pleasure to introduce to Sanderlin's Peace Patch garden in these past few months. I am blessed by their curiosity and their openness to new ideas. I am grateful for the joy with which they approach the garden. I am glad to be part of an organization cultivating in the next generation of St. Petersburg's young people a value for healthy relationships with the natural world. I am thankful for those young people.

One day in September, the children were excited about the opportunity to plant some sweet pea seeds. The seeds have sprouted into thriving young plants in the time since then. Over those months, my fellow volunteers and I had the opportunity to plant metaphorical seeds in the minds of the students, seeds that I know may sprout into a healthy respect for gardening. For me, that is something to be thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pre-Thanksgiving Work-day

Although our students had today off the garden still needed some TLC. A few of us headed out to our regular shifts to take care of some much needed tasks around the garden.

One brave Peace-Patcher got to spreading the new mulch across the pathways and beds to support them and prevent further sinking. A lot tough scooping and pitch-fork maneuvering was done.

The rest of us got to tending the beds that had become overgrown. Here are a few taking care of the squash area by the papaya tree.

I worked on a bed where we had discovered some "volunteer" red lettuce had begun to sprout! So I cleared the space to encourage its growth. Hopefully a few more friends will begin to sprout now that the bed has the room. Another helpful gardener staked near the young plants and labeled them.

The best part was all the up-close and personal time we had with the earth this morning. I even had a little frog friend hang out while I weeded!

It was wonderful weather and a fun time taking care of our lovely space.

The next week we all return to the garden will be our last class. It's hard to believe time has gone by so quickly!