Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Community Growing.

Rather than a typical garden update, I would like to share with you all the amazing morning that I had today at Sanderlin. I've been sick the past few weeks and apparently strayed out of the loop, this became apparent when I was the only one to show up for our shift today, the only one to show up to school at all! The kids had no classes today and Sanderlin was a complete ghost town. I figured I may as well water, and as I was working I noticed the ridiculous amount of vegetables growing- we have sweet peppers galore, cucumbers, squash, greens, and will soon have a giant crop of tomatoes and bell peppers. But I wasn't the only one to notice. It took me a while to realize I was being watched, but I finally saw the small boy peering in from the other side of the fence. He asked me what I was doing, so I explained and then asked him if him and his family would like some vegetables, with that, he sprinted away... Just like that, I thought maybe I had scarred him and he was taking to heart all the 'stranger danger' lessons he's had, but he was gone. I felt pretty bad, but the plants still looked thirsty so I carried on my duties. Twenty minutes later though and the boy was back with his Grandparents. We chatted about the garden, and the weather, and when I once again offered some of my harvest, they told me they would love some, but only if I were to share it with them! I agreed and we made the trek across the road to their small home. We made lemonade, cut up some cucumbers and settled down on their small back patio. I shared with them all about the Peace Patch Project, and it's future goals, they also pressed me to talk about myself and my personal goals which led to the most incredible discussion of environmental and food justice that i've ever been lucky enough to be apart of. The couple asked me a lot of tough questions, and I did my best to answer them, though I learned more from them than I could ever teach in return. They made their grandson sit and listen to me talk about moving from Michigan to Florida for college, and they expressed such gratitude to me, just because I was taking the initiative to further my learning – they explained that neither of them could afford college and so it was their goal for their grandchildren to go, “I'll sell this house in a heartbeat” the man shouted, “as long as my boy can get the education he deserves!” They told me how much they love living across the road from such a 'beautiful experience' and asked me to thank everyone involved in the program. I spent about an hour this morning talking and enjoying the sun with this wonderful family whom I believe i'd never have gotten to meet if I hadn't shown up to Sanderlin today. I feel so blessed to have gotten the opportunity to share our garden with them, and to have learned about their lives in return. They asked not to be named or photographed, but this elderly couple, and their adorable grandson, turned the tables and taught me a lesson this week. As I was leaving their home, I invited them to the Harvest Fest, and attempted to leave the rest of the veggies with them, but they refused, and only accepted half! I'm so proud that the Peace Patch is working with the students from the school, but that it is bringing the community together as well, the family said they would try to make it to the Harvest Fest and wished me on my way, but as I left, the old man slipped me a piece of paperI leave you as they left me, with a quote/note ; “Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together, drawing them from their homes.” Thank you for your work, because of you and your friends (You guys!) there is hope for my grandson and his children's children. God bless, and keep growing. Never lose your sunshine! -H

Wishing you all a wonderful monday, just keep growing!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bug Hunt!

Todays lesson was all about insects, generally a fan favorite amongst the kids, today was no exception. At the beginning of the lesson we sat all the kids down and went over the different types of insects, and their garden niches, and basic anatomy. After reflecting on all that bugs do in the garden, it was time to go see them in their natural habitats. So the kids begin a great, and often funny hunt for bugs. Make sure you are ready to find some cockroaches if you pick up a log! Commonly found insects included roly polys, butterflies, moths, bees, cockroaches, beetles, worms, ants, lady bugs and spiders. 
(These young scientist found a nest of roly polys)

(Cockroach and its eggs, a big hit with the students)

The Sanderlin garden is absolutely bursting with fresh produce that is close if not ready to be picked and eaten, a task that our kids excel at. Some cucumbers, banana peppers, and sweet potatoes were harvested by some of our kids to either eat as a snack, or to take home and share with their parents. With the harvest festival coming up, soon it will be time to harvest most everything and begin to look towards next semester garden. In the picture below you will see a bunch of mescaline greens that are hanging up to dry, so we can get their seeds to plant in the fall. The harvest festival is May 8th at the Enoch Davis Center, I hope to see you all there!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Garbanzo Brains

It was a beautiful and sunny day today in the Sanderlin Peace Patch, and we had a full shift of 3 back-to-back classes with just enough time left at the end to water the garden.  With the kindergarteners today we discussed the importance of sunlight to plants. Most of the kids recognized the essential function of the sun in providing light energy for the plant to turn into food, but wouldn’t really sit still long enough to go into any sort of depth. We promptly headed into the garden to show them the way in which plants use different mechanisms to absorb the most sunlight. The kids were pretty amazed when we explained to them how sunflowers follow the sun as it moves in the sky, which is always a rewarding feeling. 

When the first graders came in we switched over the lesson to the life cycle of a bean plant. After going through the different stages and showing the kids pictures, we went into the garden to look at the yellow bean and garbanzo bean plants. As I opened one of the garbanzo pods and showed them the bean inside, the first thing out of Myle’s mouth was “Ahhh it looks like a brain!”
So garbanzo beans were called garbanzo brains for the remainder of the session, which was perfectly fine with me.

Myles holding a garbanzo brain

Something about these gardens has made the time fly right before my eyes. I feel like I just started in this new teaching role, and now we only have a short two weeks left with these kids. Though there have been times where I have felt frustrated or overwhelmed by chaos, I don’t think I wouldn’t have gotten the same meaning out of this experience without those moments. It has been those hectic, stressful times that have taught me the most and have made me laugh the hardest, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sunshine is Here for Good!

As the past blog said, the sun was out and shining all week. That was perfect for our lesson because the lesson plan was on sunshine and how plants used it. As our second grade classes came out they knew all about how plants need sun and they even knew about photosynthesis. Our discussion before we went into the garden was mainly them telling us what they already knew. When we went into the garden the class walked around telling which plants needed more sun light depending on their leaf size.

(our first class eating the lettuce and holding out their hands representing how plants would take in sunlight)

(our second class showing the lettuce that they were about to taste)

As you can see from the pictures both of the classes found the bed of lettuce. They were telling me how the lettuce clearly needed lots of energy from the sun and that is why the leafs were so big. Most of the kids loved the lettuce and came back for seconds and thirds. I don't know if anyone remembers my friend Grub I talked about earlier in the semester, but he is in there with a piece of lettuce in his mouth! He told me that he was being risky today by trying the vegetable and it honestly made my day! I talked about earlier how all I wanted to do was for him to eat a vegetable and he did. He ate the whole leaf too. 

(Some kids checking out the squash) 

(cucumber and squash that I harvested) 
- Dani

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Simon Says...Wiggle Your Leaves

   Today at Sanderlin Elementary School we had the chance to do a little bit of everything with Pre-K students. We started by giving a lesson on why the sun is so important for plants to grow and how they use the sunlight to turn it into food. This process is formally known as photosynthesis, to the children it is adorably known as a plant sun bathing.

(Gazing up at the sun like a plant would to absorb sunlight)

   This led us to into a fun game of Simon says, where your feet are your roots, waist is your stem, arms and hands are your leaves and last but not least your head is the beautiful flower.

(Simon Says..touch your Flower)
(Simon Says..wiggle your leaves)

                  After our game we picked a pepper and opened it up revealing all of its seeds.
  Next, we let the children plant the seeds in an empty space in one of the garden beds; they were so proud of their seed that they planted themselves. Being in the garden whether it is to teach, learn, work or simply enjoy brings a sense of empowerment from age four and beyond. This is evident for the children when you hear how proud they are to plant their own seed. I realize how empowering it has been for myself when the children know the answers of the garden and thank me and share how much they love coming to the garden. This garden may not solve all of the problems that these children face at school, at home and out in the real world but it gives them an experience you cannot build in a classroom. It gives them something that they belong too, that is theirs and they have had a part in creating. When you plant a seed you have to think about the future and the steps to take to help the seed flourish into a beautiful and nourishing plant. That may be just a lesson plan that we share with the children but it embeds the process of thinking about a future and what it takes to get there within these children. Hopefully they will walk away from the garden thinking about their future and what they can do to make their lives and this world a better place.

God Bless,

Monday, April 15, 2013

A hot and fun Monday

What a lovely day at the garden,

Wow! Today was an especially warm morning.  The weather in Florida is starting to return to its hot and humid self.  Upon arrival,  I did a little walk around the garden and observed all the fruits and vegetables that were beginning to really flourish.    The amount of green that has invaded the garden is so beautiful.  Compared to what it started at just a few months ago,  the progress has been simply amazing.   Returning every new time to the garden is becoming such an exciting event, filled with a surprise each time.  That is the beauty of gardening!


Beans climbing!


The lesson plan for the kids today was focused on the seasons.  We talked about the difference in plant growths within the four seasons.  We also discussed what fruit or vegetable grows best in which season.   The kids were really engaged today and it was quite rewarding to see how excited they got about answering questions.   After we sat and talked for a little bit, we all went and walked around the garden.  We looked at the progress of the garden and the kids were amazed at the size of the peppers and how sweet the peas tasted.  The connection that has been built between these kids is really starting to show.  I appreciate them just as much as they appreciate me!

Talking with the kids
Overall, it was once again a lovely and successful at the Sanderlin Garden.  

Goodbye for now,

Sally :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We are Artists!

Our goal in all the Edible Peace Patch gardens is to teach students about the natural world, primarily through the sciences. While science tends to boil down to facts, it is how we reason with those facts that brings a creative aspect to the scientific method. Today, we reviewed the 'Parts of a Plant' with ease, then smoothly transitioned into the main focus of the lesson: observation. Observation is fundamental to the scientific method. It allows us to support claims with physical evidence, thus grounding theories in real 'truths'. So, we had the students apply this method of observation by drawing a plant of choice, then write a reflection on their experience.

Typically, we teach our lessons in a somewhat paternal manner. In other words, we have control, thus the direction of each lesson, which creates some dependence on us as teachers to tell them answers, instead of giving them the independence to learn on their own. But, this was not a typical lesson. By giving the students the freedom and independence to explore the garden for themselves, they were transformed into 'artists'. Not 'artists' in the practical sense, such as a painter who paints, but 'artists' who are able to do what they can do creatively. As the students observed the garden, they asked questions only if necessary. The rest of the time was spent in deep observatory meditation and reflection, a magical space to explore life in an original manner. How beautiful it was to see the great amount of creativity and potential in such young people. It is times like this that give me hope in a better future.

Paul M. Amsel

Friday, April 5, 2013

No one out to play

It was a very rainy Thursday today. We were supposed to teach two class, but the children did not come out due to the rain. The garden had a peaceful feel to it and smelt amazing after the rain.                                          

 The rain allowed for many of the plants to perk up and they seemed to shine a little brighter after the good soak.
I really enjoy the new shed at Sanderlin elementary. We straightened up the little shed. There is something amazing about a neat stack of racks and shovels. It gives me the sense of respect and determination for the work at hand.

There are some extremely large broccoli coming up. They are doing amazing.

There are also beautiful. little yellow squash coming up. They are hard to find sometimes because the plant will prick you. The flowers are on the squash a lovely. I am excited to see the children's reaction to how much is growing the garden.



 A young egg plant is looking wonderful in the garden!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

ROOT-ing For Veggies

This morning as we headed to the Peace Patch, a glorious warm breeze carried the smell of fresh plants and dirt our way. Ahh, the smells of spring in the garden. It quickly became clear to us that spring has sprung in a very big way, as the garden is bursting with the emergence of new fruits and vegetables, weighing down stems and hiding under leaves. 

<- Here's just a hint at what's ripening in the garden right now!

Today at Sanderlin, Paul, Kelsey, and I were lucky to have three wonderful groups of willing and able volunteers who were excited to help us ROOT out some vegetables in the garden.  The last of our first batch of radishes were ready to be pulled, and the carrots also needed thinning. Time to make way for the new and uproot the old!

 We found carrots, eggplant, and even sweet potatoes here ^

Here's Kelsey with an assortment of root veggies, and a great group of helpers! ^

My group and I checking on the banana peppers

This boy wrote a Haiku about eggplants for this Thursday's Art Show and Auction! It's from 6-8pm and sure to be a great show.
Sweet potato!
We focused our lesson today on remembering the functions of each part of the plant, and then specifically talking about root vegetables, their nutritional value, the different varieties, and how we can identify them in our own garden!
It was fun getting our hands in the beds to dig up various root-vegetables. And hey, the best learning experiences involve getting 

a little bit dirty, right? When the 
watering system was accidentally turned on, however, we all got a bit of a soaking as well. I think the plants might have been happier for it than we were...

The surprise sunflowers!
We also talked about seed migration, and boy, were there plenty of examples in the garden today! Growing in our Three Sisters bed right now are some pretty gigantic plants that we didn't even plant there this 
season! One third grader brilliantly pointed out that they were sunflowers, and that they must be the product of seeds that fell from past plants in that area. Couldn't have said it better myself! We had fun locating our stray carrot growing in the middle of the garbanzo bean bed as well. Birds, foraging animals, the wind, rain, and even WE are responsible for the spread of seeds. 

Thank you Sanderlin 3rd graders, for helping us harvest so many great radishes, carrots, and sweet potatoes today! 

I can't wait to see the progress that our hearty veggies will make by next week...

Until next time-
Miranda W.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Manic Monday

 Today was our kindergartener’s first day back from spring break, and boy could we tell! It was great to see them all and hear about their time off, especially one girl who has taken a great interest in what she's been learning at the Peace Patch and used her break to do “research on jungles and jungle plants” she was so excited to tell me about all the books she had found in the library! There was not a set lesson for today, and our time with the kids was used as review and exploration time. The kids had a great time finding all the changes that have occurred over the past two weeks, and begged for leafs of collards to munch on as they roamed around enjoying the return of the sunshine.

Beautiful Pepper Plants

Our lettiuce is loving the sun! 
It was great to be reunited with our pint-sized pals, but as I mentioned it was there first day back.. They were full of energy and Taylor, Sally, and I were challenged to keep patients and keep control. Although it was a little stressful, it gave us a chance to utilize some of the tricks we learned about in our class such as the quiet hands (everyone raises their hands with a peace sign until the group is quiet), and other little techniques to keep kids focussed. Even though it was a little hectic we did get a great review session out of our class and it's clear that even at a young age these kids are really retaining a lot of the information we've been serving them. A very encouraging start to the week!

Hope you are all enjoying this sunshine, but think of our gardens and throw in a quick rain dance for good measure! Bring on those April Showers!


PS We finally got a shed at Sanderlin! I think our kids were almost as excited as we were to see this new 'little building'