Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Monday, March 26, 2012

This week is Sanderlin's spring break but we have lots of work to do. We are having a maintenance week.

A ground hog has tried to move into the garden.

More plants growing!


Watering the plants.

Pulling weeds.

All the weeds are gone!

Monday was a great start to the week of maintenance. 

By: Kate Farley
Eckerd College

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sprouting Knowledge

    The garden is looking amazing at Sanderlin. Everything is sprouting up and filling what once was a bunch of empty space with the promise of so much more. The kids and I are getting really excited about pulling carrots, radishes, and beets, and without a doubt the most looked forward to crop is corn. The volunteers and the students have been so dedicated to weeding and mulching this week that the garden is transforming into a thing of beauty!

     After the great response at Lakewood I was looking forward to teaching about decomposers and butterflies! It's so important for the children to understand how our soil is made and the complex systems that are involved in the creation of new plants. By joining the two things they love most (bugs and flowers) this lesson brings a new energy into the garden.

     Analyzing logs is the best way, I find, to talk about decomposition and the insects involved. They love turning over logs to find the little guys.

      As we're still waiting for all the flowers to sprout up in the garden I used a video I took last semester to show a monarch butterfly in the garden at Lakewood Elementary.

     As we toured through the garden we reviewed the past lessons. The students are amazing at building on top of their prior lessons and worked their way to the plant parts easily. The biggest confusion lies in the explanation of pollen versus honey, but a few students were able to describe a pollenator after our lesson and even remember all parts of the butterfly cycle.

    It's great to see the students success and progression alongside the progression of the plants themselves. It sets a certain kind of backdrop in the garden when our students grow beside the plants. They both get bigger and bigger each day and they both feed on the soil and the sun of the outdoors.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cardboard, Mulch and Butterflies! Oh My!

Today was a productive day at Sanderlin's garden.  I stopped by Eckerd's on-campus recycling center on my way to the garden in order to pick up some much needed cardboard to continue our seemingly never ending attack on the sedge-menace.  Although I filled my truck with cardboard, Renee and I managed to put it all down and cover it this morning so another trip to the recycling center is in order for tomorrow's crew.

Today we taught our second grade class about the life cycle of butterflies (butterfly -> egg -> caterpillar ->
cocoon  -> butterfly).  It was a lot of fun going over what pollination is and why pollinators are important with the kids.  To introduce the concept we began in a circle and acted out the life cycle (squat = egg, crawling around = caterpillar, stand up straight with arms over head and hands touching = cocoon, skip around waving arms = butterfly and repeat).  The kids really liked the game so we went through the cycle three times to reinforce the idea that this is a never ending, continuous cycle.  Next, we took a walk through the garden in search for pollinators, each kid was to look around and search for a butterfly or bee and point it out to the class if one was found.  The kids were all really excited about how things have grown (last week they we're able to come out to the garden so things have changed a lot since they last saw it).  Finally, we made a butterfly craft with coffee filters, clothes pins and pipe cleaners.  More than just being a fun thing to do, it brought up conversation about the differences in butterflies' shape and color because everyone had a different looking butterfly they created.  AND its always nice for the kids to get to bring home something from their garden experience, I think it makes them feel more connected to the project - rather than just coming once a week and leaving till the following week, they get something tangible that they made in the garden and that they're proud of.  All in all it was a very good day :).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Catapillars, Corn, and Coffee

Enthusiastic like always, the sixth grade class sprinted out to the garden upon being released outside. Decomposers was the topic of the day, and that meant that the class got their hands dirty digging through the soil and kicking around the compost to find rolly polly bugs, worms, flies, mushrooms, and any decomposer that they could find. Equipped with a magnifying glass and notebook, the students were ready to observe and record what they saw. We observed a brightly colored caterpillar crawl on a log, and each student had the chance to look closely at it and observe it move.

Sixth grade student Raphael picking weeds from a garden bed
The corn has begun to grow and today we measured the height of the plant at 1.5". We will measure it every week and plot its growth on a graph so the students can conceptualize the growth. With a large portion of the garden covered in sedge that took over during the weekend, the helping hands of everyone helped clear a lot of it out. We spread coffee grounds on the garden beds, and the class was able to explain to me why plants need nutrients and that some of those nutrients can come from coffee. It is always a great day when I start it out at the Peace Patch, and I look forward to seeing the kids next time!

Brad Samuels

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mulching Away

Today was a sunny and breezy afternoon at Sanderlin. It was nice to see that everything is progressing. The plants are starting to fill up the garden.

 Lavender is something that we are not growing at the Lakewood Elementary school garden. I think it is a very unique and beautiful plant.

Robert and I did not have a class during our shift which allowed us plenty of time to work on the mulch pile. We mulched near the fence and while doing so had a long and interesting conversation.

 It’s amazing how much work it takes to maintain a garden.  I look forward to seeing the changes next week will bring!

Julia Melton

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Day for Dirt

"If a healthy soil is full of death, it is also full of life:  worms, fungi, microorganisms of all kinds ...  Given only the health of the soil, nothing that dies is dead for very long."
-  Wendell Berry, 
The Unsettling of America, 1977

Yet another beautiful day in the garden!  Today marks the end of our little chilly streak over the last few days and we expect a solid week of sun and temperatures in the low 80s.    Already we can see little rows of cucumbers, squash, radishes, and many other little baby leaves popping out of the ground and with this heat if we keep them well watered we should start to see some real greening of the beds!

Today’s lesson focused on the soil.  We talked about the grain sizes of sand, silt, and clay, how different soils come to be the way they are, and what that means for the soil.  We also spoke of death and decay.  This is actually one of my favorite topics when speaking about gardening as these concepts have so many negative connotations associated with them.  I enjoy re-framing things generally seen as frightening and disgusting into the magical natural steps in the bio-cycle.  After all, without death and decay, we would have no organic matter in our soil.  No organic matter, no water retention, no nutrients, and no vital living soil.  Soil is the nexus of life and death.  The ultimate recycler, where the death of one organism provides the life-giving energy and nutrients for millions of other organisms.    

For a bit of hands-on experience, we put our students to work getting their hands dirty pulling up nut sedge.  I must admit, I admire the tenacity of that plant.  No matter how many times we knock it back, it just keeps creeping back in the beds! 

Finally we played a review game to drill the lesson home.  As we tried to play, silk caterpillars descended onto the students from the oaks, causing reactions ranging from mild interest to absolute disgust, disrupting the class.  Overall though, the game went off well; the class remembered the vast majority of the lesson, and we were treated to some classic humor. 
“What are pores?”
“Homeless people!”

Kids say the darndest things, don’t they?  Unfortunately, you don’t have to be all that poor to be homeless in St Petersburg, but I kept my class-analysis out of the lesson for the time being. The important lesson for the day was one of the living Earth who we step on carelessly every day without bothering to give her a second thought or the gratitude she deserves. 
"If I wanted to have a happy garden, I must ally myself with my soil; study and help it to the utmost, untiringly. Always, the soil must come first."
-  Marion Cran,
If I Where Beginning Again

Keep your hands dirty!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Edible Peace Patch Fest

Despite the wind and the chill, yesterday's first annual Edible Peace Patch fest was a great success and a ton of fun. Volunteers and local community memebers came together with local art vendors and musicians for a day of great food, games, and friendship. As Prof. Kip Curtis, director and founder of the project, stressed in his speech last night, this project is centered around building a strong community bond through sustainable food systems. Being as food is our most intimate connection with the land, this festival celebrated our 'growing' together in both the schoolyard gardens and as the St. Petersburg community. From a bounce house and rousing game of volleyball to dancing and great conversation, the atmosphere was exciting and comfortable. Bringing everyone together in order to cheer on a project that is changing lives and moving forward with leaps and bounds was an incredible experiance. This event really brought to my attention the dedication of everyone involved in the project and the hope for its future as we continue forward.

I'd like to give a special thanks to Kip Curtis as well as the Edible Peace Patch board for making this all possible, along with our dedicated volunteers from both of the gardens, the event volunteers, and YOU! Without positive community members spreading the word and getting involved, this dream would not be turning into the reality that it is.  
Katherine Schaefer
Edible Peace Patch Volunteer Coordinator

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Planting, Watering and Weeding

The weather has been great this week at the garden.  The lesson plan for this week involved teaching the children different plant parts according to their grade level. It was nice reading through the lesson plans for the children, because it refreshed my memory of plant parts I had forgotten. The picture to the left is not the best quality and it looks like there is not much vegetation, however, the bed that is closer has raspberry plant growing along with mint, chocolate mint and planted around with lavender. That is going to be a great aromatic bed once the plants grow larger.  The shift this week involved planting more seed, transplanting the mint plants, planting pineapples, of course weeding, and watering.

Planting Pricklies

Yesterday morning at Sanderlin, we did a lot of planting including artichokes, chamomile, and pineapples. I really hope those artichokes thrive, it's my favorite vegetable, and we planted about 9 of them. We also added another 7 pineapples to the pineapple patch, though the dirt in there is very hard and dry, and could really use some fluffing up. The sedge seems to be fairly under control, but we pulled whatever we saw in the beds. We also planted some chamomile by the back fence, though it was rather hard to plant, because the seeds are so tiny, but I hopeful that they'll grow fine. We were supposed to have a kindergarten class at 11:30ish, but they never showed up, witch is actually quite alright, we needed the extra time to plant the pineapples anyway. Though the Sanderlin garden looks naked, and bare in contrast to Lakewood, it is still a very young garden, and I think we shall see a great rise in the aesthetic of Sanderlin this season.