Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Third Week Teaching at the Garden!!

This weeks lesson plan was about plant parts. This is one of the Kindergarden Classes enjoying the Garden. The students and I made a circle and went over what plants need to grow. Then we looked at a diagram of a plant and named all the plant parts. Then we went into the garden and the students buddied up and picked a plant to color. 

They were very excited to color!

The students LOVED the bugs in the garden!

It is hard to see but all the students were coloring the pineapple! It is one of their favorites in the garden!

Always wonderful having the students come to the garden!

By: Kate Farley
Eckerd College Senior

Friday, February 24, 2012

Life on the Sedge

Life-is     en-cou-raged   in a garden
It's our    ardent attempt

To help the life force, with
Our gentle care and shoveling strength

So why oh why oh why would I, try- to start a fight
Because, little brother- The sedge has got to die

Nature is gentle, but step out of line, she'll cut you twice
and for grass to rule over our food, it just isn't nice

The sedges started the war- see
In a few weeks they'll spread some more- seeds 
but they underestimate the skill- of my hori-hori 

So with this Japanese knife, I spent my day taking life

While my partner sat and planted beets, to make beds come alive

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Planting And Playing In The Edible Peace Patch

     It was a gloomy morning out when I arrived at Sanderlin but despite the clouds I came ready to plant some new veggies we haven't yet experimented with. I picked up some Kohlrabi seeds on my way to Saint Petersburg today and was really excited to get them into the ground. It's a really interesting plant, similar to a turnip but a bit of a different flavor and a real beauty to see when it's just about ready to be harvested.

     Although the garden is looking a bit plain we have sown hundreds of seeds in the past two weeks. It's going to be amazing to see the development of the garden in the next month or so. I can't wait until I pull up to a lush and overflowing garden buzzing with life!

    I was thrilled to see someone had donated some kitschy bordering path stones when I walked in today. I hope we can get more student art to mark the beds and to add a cozier feel. The path stones look amazing and the kids loved them when they arrived for class. Thursdays are a crazy day as I'm the only volunteer educator for nearly 40 students in a span of an hour and a half. It was so fun to work with the teachers as we asked questions about the shape and texture of seeds for our lesson today. It was amazing how many of the pre-K students could identify the seeds of corn, peas, watermelon, and sunflower! They're really retaining a  lot of information for such young minds, but I guess they say the minds of kids are like sponges.

      There is still a lot of work to be done at Sanderlin and I look forward to watching our team of volunteers gain experience through teaching and garden maintenance. It's not always fun to weed and dig but I know they all love working with the kids and being a part of the community around our college. It'll be interesting to hear the experiences at our early morning meeting tomorrow from those volunteers who have only been working with the Edible Peace Patch for a few weeks now.

-Erin Mattick
Gardens Manager


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Planting Seeds With Knowledge

This week's lessons are all about seeds, with more advanced lessons for the middle school kids, as Forest described in his blog from Friday to lessons which are geared more towards the younger classes (k-2nd).  Renee and I had two first grade classes come out to the garden today to learn about seeds.  We began by observing the differences between three different kinds of seeds: an okra seed which is tiny, green and round, a garbanzo bean which is also round but a pale tan color and kind of wrinkled and finally a lima bean which is smooth, large and white.  Because we had the two classes come out at once, we didn't get around to doing a sense-of-touch activity with the beans BUT we did get to plant them!  We split the kids into groups of four and had each group plant one of the seeds they possessed from the initial observations. Each kid was given a job to carry out for this exercise, one got to choose which seed was to be planted, another was the 'cup holder,' another was the 'dirt person' and poured the dirt into the cup, and finally we had the planter.  The kids were all really excited about planting but I think they were even more excited about the prospect of planting the seedlings in the garden in a couple of weeks.  To end the lesson, we had a garden parade and marched around the garden in order to show the kids what has changed since the previous week they were all out in the garden. I think wrapping up the lesson with the parade was a lot of fun for the kids and gave them an enjoyable way to envision their part in the garden - they get to plant what is in there, they are responsible for those plants and the garden is there for their benefit.  As the seeds develop and grow throughout the semester, so too will they and I think they understand and embrace that idea.

- Chelsea Ehmann

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Seeds: Learning through Death while giving New Life

To see things in the seed, that is genius." ~ Lao-tzu
This morning was a bit hectic, but it all ended up working out in the end.  Brad, Nate, and I were supposed to pick up a bunch of logs to finish lining the beds from the recycling center, but on arrival noticed the gate we were supposed to go in was closed.  It said that they didn’t open until 9am. Fortunately, the front gate was open, there weren’t many workers there yet, and those that were there were totally fine with us picking up logs early for our cause. 
Today’s lesson focused on the initial phase of giving life and starting the new generation: seeds.  Each student was given a bean which had been soaking overnight to soften it up for dissection.  First they observed the seed and jotted down what they noticed.  Next was the prediction phase where each student made educated guesses about what the seed would look like on the inside (I must admit, the beans were already starting to germinate and crack open, so they might have had some help on that one).  Finally we dissected the beans, separating them into the seed-coat (skin), the dicotyledons (the big energy packet which makes up the bulk of the seed), and the embryo (the beginnings of the new plant). 
My group enjoyed this practice, but I think it is telling how the destructive part of the lesson (let’s not fool ourselves, we killed those beans) was not as fun as the creative part because they got really excited when the time came to use the new knowledge they had just received to plant some seeds! What had once been a complete mystery of a seed magically popping out of the ground could now be envisioned with the seed-coat cracking off as the dicotyledons split and shoot forth the new plant up towards the surface and the sun.  This enabled imagination, far from usurping the magic of mystery, allows the children to experience the magic in a much more personal and relatable way.

Love and peas,

Monday, February 20, 2012

Second Week of Teaching at Sanderlin!

This weeks lesson is on the MAGIC of seeds!! The students loved this lesson because it was very hands on. First I passed around three different types of seeds. We looked at the seeds and observed them using the five senses! We felt the three different seeds, which were all very different from each other. We smelt them but most did not give off much of a scent. We observed different characteristics of the seeds like texture, size, shape, color and weight. The three seeds we used were beet, Okra, and Broccoli. Then we made the connection that the three seeds they were holding were all vegetable seeds. We also talked about the basic elements that seeds need to grow. And we expanded on this as we planted the seeds!

So first seeds need soil. We gathered some soil and put it in a pot together.

All the students planted their own seed in the bucket.

They really enjoyed planting all the seeds. They really like hands on learning.

Touch the earth softly.

By: Kate Farley
Eckerd College Senior

Saturday, February 18, 2012

These kids belong in a Peace Patch

Around the corner, at Sanderlin, I get the call that we have a decent laundry list of projects to do. " They want us to build a compost, spread coffee grounds all over the garden, plant some pineapple tops and if there's any extra time..."

That class ran over, my partner and I jumbled our plans, and his phone planned a 10 minute labor strike as my first trip to Eckerd became a mission to find his expertly hidden dorm. 

An hour later, our timeline was 20 minutes to create a compost bin out of palates and get pineapple tops in the ground. The time crunch translated itself into clarity of mind, which in turn zipped a few screws.  We were two screws from completion, when a storm of cuteness was gently corralled into the garden. 

The next twenty minutes flashed by. When I asked how many of them had gardens at home  70% of the class shot their hands up. The kids knew a lot too; But it wasn't that they knew about bugs and butterflies and what plants were what that impressed me most. What impressed me most was their garden demeanor. They stroked the leaves gently, loved touching the earth, and seemed really compassionate with each other. They were asking lots of questions, and even when the answers were more complex than they could grasp I could see a deeper understanding settling subconsciously.

Then just as quickly as they appeared, the whole class ambled off to their next adventure and we were left with our pineapple tops and palates. I thought of something I'd heard a few days before, "We should stop teaching children and start learning from them. "

Digging deep for sedge roots


Our compost pile is no Walden, but it's a start


Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Seeds of Knowledge

"Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be."
~Marcus Aurelius

     Arriving at Sanderlin this morning, groggy from waking up early to grab some new seeds/plants, stakes for the beds, and attempting to fight off illness I wondered what my new students would be like. After having so much time off from planting and teaching, as well as starting at a new school, I was a bit nervous to get back into the swing of things. I ran into Charrie Gibson who helps us develop our lessons and activities in the front office on my way to the garden and she was very excited about introducing me to the three classes of Pre-k and Kindergartners I'd be working with on Thursdays.

     Before my classes arrived I ran around the garden, marking down all the planted crops on our white board and staking the plant and date in front of the assigned beds. I barely had enough time to dig a few trenches before my first class arrived, enthusiastic and ready to get their hands dirty! As I introduced myself the students sat around our log-chair amphitheater fidgety and anxious to answer every question I asked like "what do plants need to grow?" or "what are the rules of the garden?"  They did an amazing job, even when it came to knowing the parts of plants. I was surprised that even children in Pre-K had had some experience at home with gardening. We talked about our favorite fruits and vegetables and decided what we'd plant this semester as a group.

      I walked around and with every right answer distributed sunflower, (purple) green bean, corn, and pumpkin seeds to every student. For being so little they were amazing listeners and everyone held their seeds tight in their hands as we all walked into the garden to take turns planting.

Here we are planting Corn, Pumpkin, and Beans in the "Three Sisters" bed.

Even the teachers helped us plant Sunflowers 

After the planting was over we all learned about predictions. We talked about what the plants would look like in a few weeks, and what would be happening under the soil.

       My favorite part of teaching the first day is getting to meet all my new students. I love joking and testing their memories by asking them my name or the part of a plant that shows up first through the soil. I have a feeling this semester will be amazing at Sanderlin and I can't wait to see the faces of the students when their little shoots start to pop through the ground and they understand what it feels like to create a life from something as small as a seed. 

-Erin Mattick

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Day of Solitude

"I never found the companion that was so campanionable as solitude."
 Henry David Thoreau. Walden

I arrived today for my fist shift at Sanderlin’s garden. Although I was by myself for the entire period, I found it to be soothing.  The garden can be filled with lots of energy and joy; it can also be very peaceful.
I love the way in which the trees guide you to the garden.

My first impressions on the garden were how beautifully designed and how many hands had contributed in its success.

After taking it all in I noticed how dry some of the plants were looking and decided they needed a good watering. I had trouble finding a key to the water spout but eventually found the right person to turn it on. We are in the process of constructing a drip irrigation system for the garden as well as rain barrels so it will be easier to water plants in the future!

Last semester, I had the privilege of working at Lakewood elementary school garden and had obtained some okra seeds that I let dry out over winter. I thought it would be nice to plant some of the seeds from Lakewood’s garden at Sanderlin. 

I made three rows of five small holes, two feet apart and put two seeds in each hole. I covered the holes and gently watered them.

Although there were no children out in the garden with me today I appreciated the solitude.

Julia Melton

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Falling in Love with a Garden

I hope everyone is having a lovely Valentine’s Day! 

This morning was the first day I had been to the Sanderlin garden since helping to dig it out and refill it with delicious mulch, logs, more mulch, fish and shrimp, more mulch, and finally a layer of the kind of good rich soil that is hard to find here in Florida.  And the soil will only get better from here on out as we continue to pump rich organic matter into it!  It has really come into its own as Kate did a wonderful job photo-documenting (please see the last post for the beautiful pictures) and now we have plants in the ground! 
For our first class of the year, Brad, Nate, and I were sprung with a double-class of sixth graders.  I was a bit nervous about this as last semester I had only worked with kindergardeners and 1st graders, but I quickly overcame my trepidation when the class poured out into the garden just bubbling with excitement and curiosity.  We welcomed them to the garden and had them in a big ring all the way around the garden as we introduced ourselves and the project. 
Next was our modified garden-knowledge red-light-green-light game which was over faster than expected due to how much many of the kids already know about gardening and plants.  This opened up plenty of time for us to split into three groups and wander through the garden, conversing about what plants were what, which were our favorites, and what we wanted to see in the future.  
So, for Valentine’s Day I got to fall in love all over again with a gorgeous new garden and an inspired new class!  It’s going to be a great year. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

First Day Teaching!

Welcome to the first day of teaching at Sanderlin Elementary School located in St. Petersburg, FL. 

Today I arrived and did some general maintenance on the garden. The Sanderlin Edible Peace Patch was constructed in January of 2012. Most of the construction was completed at this time but there is still some work to be done. The garden is designed in a circular formation. It has one main circle and then smaller circles outside the main circle.

Above shows one of the circle areas outside the main circular garden. Some parts of the garden are growing, which is very exciting!

 We have some bright green lettuce growing!

Along with some herbs in the middle of the garden.

And some more different colored lettuce.

Above shows the center of the garden. As you can see it is still under it's last bits of construction! Above shows a before picture, before the mulch was laid down today.

Some work in progress. Some of the mulch has been put down.

And the middle section of the garden now has mulch! This was the last bit of mulch that needed to be put down. So one more step completed!

This is the outdoor classroom. The students love sitting on the seats that are logs!

  The 10am - 12pm shift enjoyed the company of Ms. Keatings kindergarden class!
They are very excited for their tour of the garden!

The class touring the garden!

On the tour, I taught the students about the leafy greens we had growing. And we went over some of the basic rules of the garden. The students had a blast! Many were saying "This is AWESOME!" That made my day. 

The students loved taking pictures! In this one we are surrounding the herb garden area. 

We clapped and raised our hands to show our love for the Sanderlin Edible Peace Patch!

And at the end of the lesson we played a game of red light, green light. This game was used as an assessment to gather information on the students prior knowledge of gardens. 

The students had a blast! And at the end as a reward for good behavior and a job well done on the assessment game we handed out valentines day stickers!

By: Kate Farley
Eckerd College Senior