Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Plant Proliferation

Today it was yet another beautiful Friday afternoon at Sanderlin. The garden is looking as lush and healthy as ever, especially the squash, sunflowers, and cucumbers. Brian and I began by preformed our separate tasks: Brian watered the plants, while I planted pineapples and pulled sedge. Also, the pineapples appear to be in great shape, and we’ve got over thirty of them out there.

At around 11:30am, our kindergarteners came trotting out, full of enthusiasm and excitement. Today’s lesson was a combination of this week’s lesson and last week’s lesson, to compensate for when the kids weren’t here last week.
The first lesson was on seeds, and the kids had so many excellent question right off the bat, “Where do seeds come from?” “What’s inside a seed?” “How big do they get?” All of these questions, along with many others, we addressed in a way that made it easy for the kids to understand, while still being able to amaze them with the idea of how much fruit, and how many plants can come from one seed.
We then took the kids into the garden, to make observations of the sunflower, and the hundreds of potential plants within it. The kids were also excited to see how big the squash had grown to be. “Guys! You gotta come see this!”
We then took them over near the pineapples patch, to talk them about the differences between native and non-native plants, and what are the benefits of native plants.
Towards the end of class, the kids became so enthusiastic for any seeds that it was hard for some of them to let them go, and return to the classroom. Hopefully they will carry that enthusiasm with them home, get their own seeds, and start growing their own plants.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Although the day started out with organizing our cubby which holds all our gardening supplies, today turned out to be an exciting day at the garden.  As of this morning I have an additional second grade class coming out during my shift.  These kids are of course just as amazing as my other second grade class I have routinely coming out Wednesday mornings.  We broke the ice with some seed banking facts and the kids got to   try it out for themselves by sifting through some dried okra to bag and label the seeds.  Having the kids take part in what we're teaching them is always a lot of fun.  It makes what they're learning real and the garden theirs when they get to participate in the various aspects of gardening.  Following the lesson and activity we played a revised version of duck-duck-goose to further explore the seed-banking concept and to have some fun!  The kids got in a circle and all the usual rules applied to the game.  The concept is what was different.  Rather than being 'ducks' the students were 'drying fruits', the 'ducker' was a 'farmer' and the 'cookie jar' was a 'banked seed.'  The kids really got into it and we all had a lot of fun while learning.  
Look how neat and organized our cubby is!

It's alive!  Its beautiful!  It's getting ready for the Harvest Festival coming up!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Final Stretch

This is the second to last week of teaching in the garden! The students had a great time today! We talked about seeds and why it is important to save seeds after harvesting the plants. This is called seed banking. 

We talked about Earth Day, which was yesterday. We all shared what we did for earth day!

We walked around the garden to find something new. The students really liked the groundhog hole.

And we ended with a class picture! The kids love their pictures!

Overall it was a great day in the garden! The students have so much fun!

See you next time!

Kate Farley
Eckerd College Senior

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wild, Native, AND Edible! Oh my!

This morning was the first lesson for our friend and new volunteer, Peter, who took in the new experience like a champ! 
Now that the students have gotten used to the Edible Peace Patch and everything involved with it, our main challenge is not so much getting them engaged, as getting them to focus on the lesson plans and not all the exciting things going on in the garden!  This normal chaos didn’t seem to faze Peter a bit though, and he rolled with the punches, coming out at the end gushing about the experience. 
Distraction number one today was a mysterious hole which has appeared next to the tomatoes.  We all suspect a groundhog and a bunch of the boys wanted to stick the hose down the hole to flush the varmint out.  Although not completely opposed to the idea, I knew this would turn the day into either absolute mayhem (if we did flush it out) or be a major distraction while we waited for something to happen, so we nixed the idea… for now.  Besides, I really wanted to focus on the lesson today, it is one of my favorites: native plants!

At the garden workday this weekend, I had noticed a common nightshade had popped up next to the fence and was really excited to show this to our class.  It has tons of berries all over it which will be ready to pick very soon!  I loved pointing out that our little berry bushes (growing in beautiful soil and getting watered almost daily) would take another year to produce and would not have nearly as many berries, while this wild native edible had popped up out of sand, was not watered at all, and still was twice the size of our bushes and overburdened with fruit!  Ah the abundance of undisturbed Nature. 
I was quick to emphasize that although the ripe berries (a beautiful deep purple, verging on black) were edible and taste like a mild and sweet cherry tomato, the plant and the green berries were toxic (a common trait of the nightshade family in general).  I think this frightened the students though and only Elijah was brave enough to follow my lead and eat one of the few ripe berries we found.  

Students were a little bolder in eating some Spanish moss, Spanish needle, pepperweed, purslane, and sour clover which we found popping up around the schoolyard.  For the grand finale we got to split our first cucumber and a bunch of purple beans from the garden!  Despite repeated calls for Ranch dressing, most of the students seemed to enjoy them straight.   
One more little joy of this morning was being able to tell concerned students repeatedly, “No, we don’t have to wash these off at all because we don’t use any toxic chemicals in our garden, so there is nothing bad on them to wash off.”  One more win for sustainability!
Weeds are in the eye of the beholder, so think before you pull up everything around your lettuce!  You could just be killing purslane… look it up.

A rough day turns sunny

Friday was a tough day. We started the morning with a too poigniant and devastating reminder of our own mortality. As you may know, one of the peace patchers passed away at the beginning of the week. Though I never knew him in life, he was one of those stars that shined so brightly; He will continue to shine for a long time to come. Our bodies die, but those of us who really live… live on regardless.

My partner, who leads the social justice club at Eckerd, had an engagement this morning so I was on my own. Fine by me. I love those Sanderlin kids and could spend all day passing along fun and knowledge.

This day, we talked about how stars effect plants. Well, one particular star especially. These kindergarteners were again on top of it. We talked about how big, old and far away the sun is. They conjectured about whether the earth had any other energy source. We came to the discovery that for millions of years plants were the only energy converters allowing all life to exist. We chatted about how different plants have different sized leaves, use different amounts of sun and pass that energy along in different ways.. Did I mention these are kindergarteners?

Parents, be proud!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"A flower is an educated weed."...Luther Burbank

Today was hot during our high-noon shift! We do not have students during our shift which gives us plenty of time to do maintenance work around the garden. Today we mainly focused on weeding the sedges out of the bed. We recently found out that the mulch we used for the edges and paths in the garden have sedge seeds which makes weeding a never ending fiasco. 

Overall the garden looks happy! Bees, butterflies and birds all seem to enjoy the garden and have grown accustomed to it. The garden is really developing.

I am happy to see that the okra plants next to the banana tree are growing well! I got the seeds from the okra at Lakewood Elementary last semester and planted them at Sanderlin during my first shift this semester.

Some pictures I took:

Several basil plants are sprouting!

The okra plants have beautiful flowers.

Radishes are almost ready to harvest.

The three sisters bed is flourishing!

There is still plenty of work to be done but the progress of growth is very encouraging!

Julia Melton

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Sun

Today's lesson was about the sun. We are doing an experiment in the garden with two buckets of water. One will be kept in the shade for a week and one will be kept in the sun. Then next week we will look to see how much water has evaporated.

The sixth grade students did a blog this week as part of their lesson. They were told they could write about anything that related to the garden.

 Every week my class helps with the various garden tasks. In the picture above we were removing the moss from the garden and putting it in the compost bin.

And here a lot of the girls from the class teamed up together to spin the compost. 

The most exciting part about the lesson for me was reading the student's blogs. So I will end by posting one of the student's blogs.

"If you think about it, we revolve around the sun.
Not just our planet but our lives.
If we didn't depend on the weather,
there would less weddings, poems, and happy days.
If we didn't depend on its rays,
There would be less plants, causing death and hunger and poverty in different areas.
If we didn't depend on the sun,
there would be more depression and less smiles.
Therefore depend on the sun."
By: Hannah Peterson

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"A day in the life of Harold"- a yams life in the eyes of my creative group of six eager fifth graders. My student explained to me his yam that he planted in my garden was a male, and his name was Harold. Harold gets visited daily by Buzz the Bumble Bee to have his pollen collected and brought to a female plant. He gets his drinks from the sky and the hose, he gets his food from the soil and all the nutrients, and he grows with sunlight. When he dies Benjamin the Beatle will come and help decompose him.  

This story that was told to me by my students and helps demonstrate all that goes into the plant life cycle. The students understand the key elements and can conceptualize this very well. How will they surprise me next time!

-Brad Samuels

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Dry Oasis...For the Moment

The garden grows nicely, but who is there to appreciate it? It was strange having such a beautiful garden sitting desolate. No sounds of laughter from running children, no classes, no watchful teachers. Just thirsty plants, beneficial bugs and the elements.

I was also thirsty. The thirst gave me a level of empathy for the plants. I could feel them soaking up the cool, refreshing water. That is, after I MacGuyvered the hose on. The key was locked behind another lock whose key had apparently disappeared with the school folk. I'm glad I'd recently started traveling with a ratchet set. My conscience wouldn't have let me leave the plants so dry. Hank planted pineapples and pulled up sedge. That cursed sedge : )

The Sanderlin beds were built through the process of hugelkultur. Pits were dug, and filled with woody bits from logs to sticks to mulch. They were fertilized with fish scraps, and covered with topsoil/compost. Eventually, once they are well soaked and the wood inside begins to slowly decompose, watering will be unnecessary. Like the forest they were designed to emulate, they will be a rich, moist, humousy cake of mycelium, microorganisms and organic matter. The roots of established plants will have a vast oasis of water and nutrients available to them at all times.

Now however is a different matter. The wood is far from broken down, the soil sandy and our Florida spring dry! So now we water, a lot. It's an investment of time and water that will pay massive dividends in the future.

Still, things grow. I'm amazed to see how big the squashes are, and how happy the herbs are. It looks like even the banana tree is now doing well! I guess we volunteers are doing well. Now, we're looking forward to the refreshed teachers and students coming back to revitalize the area.