Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Calm After The Storm

The children were still on spring break today at Sanderlin elementary school so we did maintenance on the garden. 

The rapidly growing radishes were sticking their red shoulders out of the ground. We harvested around thirty radishes today. Most of them were simply beautiful, but a few we had let stay in the ground too long and had started to crack.

 The harsh, late winter weather had been hard on some parts of the garden. Due to the many days of strong wind, the delicate pea vines had become tangled. We spent some time trying to untangle them and encouraging them to grow vertically along their wooden support.

Either due to the bad weather or other problems, some of the chard was wilting and not doing well. We are hoping that it will be able to come back and continue to be successful in the days and weeks to come.


There were several baby broccoli starting to grow strong on their stocks. The broccoli are looking very strong and healthy and do not seem to have been harmed at all by the weather.

It was a beautiful day in the garden. The wind was stopping and the sun felt amazing on our skin as we pulled weeds, harvested radishes and tended to the plants that were struggling. I look forward to teaching the children again next week and to see their reactions to how the garden has changed and grown in their absence.

Lia Nydes

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Old Faithful!

Since the children are on spring break, our focus in the garden this week is maintenance. Today, we arrived at the garden freezing. Upon opening the new shed, it being quaintly decorated, we found our job for the morning. Buckets full of tubing, nozzles, collars, and doohickies were retrieved from the shed, and we got to work on updating the irrigation system for the garden. Since we haven't had much rain recently, the hugleculture beds have been too dry, and it was our task to make sure every part of garden bed got fully soaked. But, the garden beds weren't the only things to get soaked.

(A geyser in the garden!)

Every now and then new geysers would appear, rocketing water skyward, from spray nozzles that happened to come loose. During our time working in the garden we would occasionally hear a fellow gardener yelp in dispair, as he or she got a face full of water. 

(Three Sister's Garden overflowing with growth)

With the improvement of the irrigation system, we have seen luscious growth in all of our plants. The Three Sister's Garden bed, shown above, is a prime example of the great vitality of the garden as whole.

With our main focus typically being the children, we've had little chance to garden. This week has been primarily concerned with gardening and its upkeep, which not only helps us know more about agriculture, it helps the kids as well. Considering next week, upon the return of the kids from spring break, we are now more familiar with the garden than ever. With our reinforced knowledge of the garden, we can't wait to teach! 

 (That's one big carrot!)

Paul M. Amsel

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sprinklers and Smiles!

My hope still is to leave the world a little bit better for my having been here.
- Jim Henson
Tomato sprinklers in action!
While Pinellas County schools are enjoying their second day into Spring Break, Eckerd students are back bustling around campus after a much-welcomed week off.
Because there was no one at Lakewood to let us through to the garden today - our usual Tuesday morning shift - Robin asked that Sally, Andy and I (Red, Blue and Green team leaders, respectively) join Taylor and Olivia in fine-tuning Sanderlin's irrigation system.
A chilly 56 degrees, gusty winds and sunny skies made for a lively morning of sprinkler restoration.
The wonderful Robin giving us guidance.
Sanderlin's Peace Patch is modeled after the German style of beds known as hugelkultur. This form of 'wild composting' cultivates rich soil and most importantly works to retain moisture. Since the wood below the beds at Sanderlin isn't quite saturated as much as it needs to be, we devoted the morning shift to getting the sprinklers in tiptop shape. 
Taylor and Robin solving sprinkler snags!
With a constant biting wind keeping us alert and awake, we set out into the garden to tackle any misbehaving sprinklers. As we worked on faulty heads and new sprinkler rigs for neglected plants, surging sprinklers started erupting throughout the garden. To anyone passing by, it probably looked like something out of a Looney Tunes episode. I kept thinking to myself we were all playing the Frog Hammer game they have in arcades, where you whack a frog on the head with a rubber hammer whenever one pops up.
Sally and Andy keeping warm as they work their
sprinkler magic on the Three Sisters garden.
Securing a new head on a sprinkler spouting water is a tricky endeavor if you hope to stay dry. But despite cold hands and wet jeans, the morning turned out to be pretty amusing.
One thing is for certain - time in the garden is always time well spent!

Until next time,
Alix :)

Andy and the Three Sisters!
Sally and the Carrots!

Monday, March 25, 2013

SUPER-SIZED Spring Cleaning!

It's official, Spring has finally sprung here in St. Pete! This morning was our first day back in the Sanderlin Garden after break, and happened to be the first day of Spring Break for our kids. We were all pretty bummed that we wouldn't be able to see our classes, but we definately had our hands full - one week off is a loong stretch in "garden time" and there was a lot of work to be done!

Everything in the garden has grown incredibly since we  were last here, including the weeds. SO Taylor weeded, Sally watered, and I took advantage of the newly empty bed where the sunflowers had once prospered. Many of our Swiss Chard plants needed to be seprated and thinned, and so after remaking the bed (pun intended), I was able to give our greens some room to breath.

New Home for the Chard!
After moving the chard Sally and I thinned the carrots  as well, and we thought a lot about natural selection, if you've ever gardened you know that in this position, you are the 'selector'. It was a little sad to get rid of some of the smaller plants but we realized that there was a lot of harvesting to be done so in fact many of the smaller plants were saved after the larger ones were pulled.

We're always lucky and have something to harvest, here's Sally with our loot!

Because we were unable to share our veggies with the kids, we were lucky enough to get to bring them back to Eckerd to share and enjoy with our friends; not only did we get a tasty treat but I brought all the greens back to the school garden to be recycled as compost! 

One of my favorite parts of Peace Patch is experimental cooking with what we take home!

We're so excited to be back with our classes next week, but today was a great way to ease into this final, beautiful stretch of the school year!
I'll leave you all with some of the fantastic views from todays shift
Radishes peaking through! 
Sweet Potato Blossom

Beautiful Broccoli!

Liz D

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dance party at the garden!

Today was a really fun day at the garden filled with energetic children. The day started out with a group of Pre-k's who we taught about seeds as they passed around bags filled with various seeds of all shapes and sizes. Then we went on a garden walk and asked the students where the seeds were located on each vegetable. For example on corn we explained that we are actually eating the seeds.  Sadly the sunflower plants are dead, but with the death of a sunflower we get seeds to start a new one!!! All the seeds were on the ground and the children enjoyed trying to pick up as many as they could. Directly after the Kindergartners came out and we repeated the seed lesson with them.

Today the Pre-Kindergartners were learning how to count, so we had to refer to them by their numbers. Here is #6 showing off her sunflower seeds.

After leaning indoors, an outdoor classroom is a nice mixup

Our last class of the day were the third graders who came running enthusiastically over to us. With them we did a lesson about weather which included distinguished the different characteristics of each season and when the best times for growing vegetable and fruit are and why. Next we gave the class a teamwork project of pulling the tall sunflower plants out and taking them to the compost. 

Two girls collecting some more seeds after taking the plants over to compost

It is always exciting to both the children and us when something is ready to harvest and luckily today we got a lovely sweet potato!

sweet! A sweet potato!
After we were done walking around the garden, two girls told us they wanted to sing us a song. The two girls (facing the tree because they were shy) sang us a delightful song about gardening which they has practiced together.  It was adorable, they sang about how plants grow and coming out to the garden.  It was rewarding to know that they are thinking about the garden even when they are not there.    
Next, the girls wanted Derek and Oliva to dance with them (I was recording it).

dance party at the garden
garden dance

Then they did a garden dance where they started on the ground as a seed then sprouted up and acted as a waiting pail and then sprouted their leaves (arms).  It was great that they could put the act of gardening and a plant growing into song and dance! Overall it was a very rewarding day!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Wonderful Start to the Week

Welcome to Sanderlin!

Ahh.. today is Monday.  The day of the week that is dreaded by many.  Unlike the majority,  I look forward to my Mondays!  This is because I get to spend my morning at the Peace Patch.  The garden and the kids bring a brighter Monday to anyone willing.  

The garden at Sanderlin looking green and gorgeous.
Today was a pretty relaxed day at the garden.  I arrived with Liz at around 10:50 and we headed out to the garden.   Whenever I arrive at the garden,  I always walk around and observe all the new things that have either sprouted or flourished.  It is lovely to see the changes that can be made over a span of just a few days.   The garden was quite dry today but luckily it was going to get lots of water from the volunteers.  The kale has (thankfully) begun to make signs of sprouting a little bit more.   We also got to feel the size of the sweet potatoes and even got to pull one.  The size astonished both Liz and I! 
Hooray for Kale!

Liz after pulling sweet potatoes

Shortly after our arrival, we were greeted by our wonderful Kindergarten class.  We went over numerous things including the difference in seed sizes, where seeds are located in certain plants and the general appearances of miscellaneous seeds.  The kids were really intrigued by the variety of seeds.  We finished the lesson by walking around the garden and touching on different plants and their seeds.  We also refreshed on previous lessons and talked about the parts each plant has.  The kids were very willing to learn but also had lots of energy on this Monday morning.   As usual, the lessons seemed way too short and we said goodbye to our friends until next time. Liz and I finished the shift with some weeding.  Overall, it was a beautiful Monday in the garden!

Different seeds for todays lesson

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Imbedding Roots

Today was a wonderful day in the garden. The new day brought with it new lesson plans! I was ready to get involved. Greeted warmly with hugs and eager faces, we immediately got to it and began to talk about the different parts of the plant.

The kids were really engaged today. Each student actively participated in our lesson plan and were excited to tell me what they already knew about the parts of the plant. I was surprised by how much they already knew about the structure and functions of plants. As we began to cover further detail, I became interested in what the kids didn't yet know, and what was less apparent at first sight when they are out in the garden. As a new environmental educator, I wanted to draw into these unknown details further.

The students and I walked around the garden to actively engage in what we were learning about and  to exemplify the structures and functions we saw in our garden's plants. As I continued with my lesson plan with each class, I noticed that the students knew a lot about the structures and functions they saw above ground, but continuously gave me the incorrect answers to questions about the soil and the growth that occurs underground. A lot of the students could answer questions and further draw into detail about intense and more elaborate topics such as photosynthesis and pollination, however at the same time believed that water was specifically absorbed through the leaves and not through the roots in the ground. Many students knew that water and sunlight were needed for growth, but didn't seem to recognize that healthy plant growth also needs nutrient rich soil to prosper. With these observations, we began to talk about the growth that occurs in the plant roots and why they are specifically important in collecting water and nutrients.

With the remainder of the time spent on talking about the structure and functions of the roots, we began pulling out weeds and looking at their unique roots. Drawing into our observations, the kids pointed out that some of the roots reached further down in the soil then others and some even spread out further in width. We also talked about the edible parts of the plants that we eat, which grow under the ground. I pointed to the carrots and allowing the group to pull out just one, so that they could actively observe what was usually unseen.

The class period seemed to go by too quickly. There was still so much to be taught and still so much to draw into. I wanted to further talk about our soil, defining how Florida's native soil was much different from the soil that we had in our gardens, and how our native plants were able to adapt to this sandy nutrient poor soils while our garden plants had other needs. However there was no time. Oh well, what a good topic for next week!

-Avery Martin

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

New Day, New Plan.

Upon our arrival at Sanderlin Elementary School, we knew we had our work cut out for us. With four classes scheduled and a lesson plan ready, we were surprised by Joyce, the volunteer coordinator for the school. Lugging two large boxes behind her, she presented us with detailed lesson plans designed to cover material the kids were learning in the classroom. Before today, it was our responsibility to create lesson plans for each week. This tended to create more difficulties when teaching than solutions. While our lesson plans were subject to change, as new teachers, it was challenging actually implementing them. Our lesson plans were somewhat disconnected from the classroom, that is to say that we were trying to teach the kids foreign concepts, whereas with a standard lesson plan, we are now able to more effectively teach the kids by building on things they have already learned.

This week started the new lesson plans given to us by Sanderlin Elementary School. The topic for the week was "Parts of a Plant." We began the lesson by testing the kids knowledge of a typical plant, which involved showing them a diagram with each part of the plant being easily distinguishable. After reviewing the different functions of each part of the plant, we led them into the garden to experience what they learned first hand. Carefully examining the plants throughout the garden, we made sure to point out the differences and similarities between the plants by allowing the kids to experience the garden through taste, touch, sight and smell. The kids were overjoyed to see an actual carrot ripped from the ground and to taste a fresh sunflower seed straight from the flower. At the end of the lesson we sent the kids on their way with a couple carrots to take back to the classroom so as to further explore the different parts of plants. I hope their further exploration into the natural world was delicious!


Paul M. Amsel

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lesson Plans Are A Go!

Today was a very productive day for the garden. We had no classes scheduled to come out this afternoon, so we focused on beautifying the gardens by watering and weeding. It was a sunny, yet brisk day for March! Nonetheless, it was still beautiful.

Bobby Watering Away!

While weeding I could not help but admire how quickly the plants have grown over the past couple weeks. From broccoli to the herbs everything is coming along nicely! I am so excited for the kids to be able to see and track the growth of the plants over the next couple of months and then eventually eat them of course!
The Broccoli!

The Fresh Herbs!   


About half way through our shift Robin graced us with her presence! Because we did not have any classes for the afternoon, Alix and I were given tasks outside of the garden. The wonderful teachers of Sanderlin created brilliant lesson plans for the students each week. Each lesson plan corresponds with what the students are learning about that week inside the classroom. Thus, Alix and I worked on duplicating the lesson plans for the other schools!

Lesson Plans!
Parts of the Plant


This particular week we are teaching the students about the different parts and functions of the plant. This morning the lesson was first taught at Sanderlin and it went seamlessly! Hopefully the rest of the week will go just as well and warm up a bit too!

Gracie Van Huffel

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Already!

What a cold day in the garden! Now that it is March I thought it would be warm! Nonetheless it was a beautiful morning in the garden. Waking up at 8:30 on Friday morning seems like a drag at first, but when I get out in the garden I always realize how great it is to start my day out right in the Peace Patch. It's always a joy to get away from my chaotic college schedule to come out and care for the plants. Leaving all those stresses behind, I spent the morning mindlessly weeding away in the garden, enjoying the peace and tranquility of it all. What a special place it is, lifting everyone's spirits with it's pure, natural innocence.

It was very quiet today in the garden. No classes came out, so I spent a majority of the time weeding and watering by myself; accompanied by all the Monk Parakeets chirping away in the trees above me. Robin, our lovely Peace Patch coordinator came to visit me and see how I was doing. It's always a joy to see her friendly, smiling face. She spends so much time working on maintenance behind the scenes and putting everyone's schedules together. The days I get to see her on my shift are always lovely! We talked about all the work that need to be done in the fallowing week and observed the new growth we found.
The Garbanzo Bean's finally grew their pods! It's been a good 90 days sense they were first planted, and it was great to see the promising new beans forming on the leafy plants. It amazes me how much growth I find every time I come out to the Peace Patch. In less then a week's time, there is so much change that occurs! As an Environmental Studies Major I thought I knew it all! However I never realized how fast the plants would actually grow in our little organic garden.

The Florida native's began to bloom too! It was exciting to see all the new promise in the garden today. After feeding and caring for their every need, I feel accomplished watching the plants mature.

I waved to my kids, who were in gym class only a few yards away. I'm quite eager to continue teaching lesson plans in the fallowing weeks. It will be a very fulfilling experience to stand by their side while they observe all they edible plants grow before their eyes.

- Avery Martin