Edible Peace Patch Blogs

Check out our other blogs here: http://peacepatch.org/blogs.htm

Monday, December 1, 2014

A final day of fun

This week is the final week that us college students will be volunteering at the garden this semester. Finals are coming up followed by winter break. Since it is the last time we would be spending together in our groups the lesson for this week was a fun review, we had a scavenger hunt! In the hunt we has some easy items to find, such as a leaf, and some harder ones that I talk about later.

This group of students were looking in our three sisters garden for some pollinators. Earlier in the semester we learned about good bugs for the garden and harmful bugs for the garden, pollinators and decomposers were memorable words for the students because it meant they could go look for bugs!  
In this picture students were playing on the mulch pile after they found decomposers. One of the volunteers Scott was excited to join them. After looking for bugs we found good and bad soil for plants to grow in. The students were clever in finding the good verse bad soil. Many students would find a dead plant and think that was where the bad soil was, but I had to remind them plants don't just depend on soil to grow and perhaps there was something else wrong with the plant for it to be dead. Still I was impressed with them remembering one of our first lessons. 

Before our classes left we would let them take one of the plants back with them. The second week of lessons we planted radishes and students were excited how big they had grown. This one above is the largest one to grow, so of course it was the first one to be picked! I would say it is the biggest radish I have ever seen. 

All and all I would say the students had a great time with this lesson. I am sad to be done with teaching, but hopefully I will have time next semester to volunteer again. 


Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving for Curiosity

School was out this week for Thanksgiving, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving I am thankful for the kindergartners whom I've had the pleasure to introduce to Sanderlin's Peace Patch garden in these past few months. I am blessed by their curiosity and their openness to new ideas. I am grateful for the joy with which they approach the garden. I am glad to be part of an organization cultivating in the next generation of St. Petersburg's young people a value for healthy relationships with the natural world. I am thankful for those young people.

One day in September, the children were excited about the opportunity to plant some sweet pea seeds. The seeds have sprouted into thriving young plants in the time since then. Over those months, my fellow volunteers and I had the opportunity to plant metaphorical seeds in the minds of the students, seeds that I know may sprout into a healthy respect for gardening. For me, that is something to be thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pre-Thanksgiving Work-day

Although our students had today off the garden still needed some TLC. A few of us headed out to our regular shifts to take care of some much needed tasks around the garden.

One brave Peace-Patcher got to spreading the new mulch across the pathways and beds to support them and prevent further sinking. A lot tough scooping and pitch-fork maneuvering was done.

The rest of us got to tending the beds that had become overgrown. Here are a few taking care of the squash area by the papaya tree.

I worked on a bed where we had discovered some "volunteer" red lettuce had begun to sprout! So I cleared the space to encourage its growth. Hopefully a few more friends will begin to sprout now that the bed has the room. Another helpful gardener staked near the young plants and labeled them.

The best part was all the up-close and personal time we had with the earth this morning. I even had a little frog friend hang out while I weeded!

It was wonderful weather and a fun time taking care of our lovely space.

The next week we all return to the garden will be our last class. It's hard to believe time has gone by so quickly!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Measuring in the garden

This week we worked to compound the last few weeks lessons related to the scientific method. It started with garden walks and asking questions, moving on to recording observations, and now measuring changes. Our students are really making strides in their confidence in the garden, they are more familiar with us and with the plants and are increasingly able to accurately describe what's going on in our little peace patch.

Each student has a plant they're focusing on. Here a student is checking in on their radish. This was one of the radishes we had planted at the very beginning of our time in the garden (about the second week), which is now almost ready to be picked. He was noticing things like the larger root, healthier leaves, and increased spread. He wrote all of this down and reported back to us in the group.

We've also begun to use the journals each week. This has really shown our students writing and drawing abilities. Having the opportunity to write down what they see and draw pictures is great practice! I'm impressed with their patience with spelling new words and courage to share their diagrams.

I love seeing how science, language arts, and art can all come together in the 25 minutes we have together on Monday mornings.

Here's to next week!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Observation and Weeding

Monday of this week was cool and cloudy. Our first class came out and they were excited to start learning our lesson for this week. Our lesson was very similar to the past few weeks. We went back to the plants they measured last week and observed if there were any changes from one week to the next. Most of the students didn't see much change from one week to the next, but the students who observed the radish noticed it had grown bigger. 

In this image one of the Zach is telling my his observations about the plant. Then he made a hypothesis about what will be different next week. He is looking at one of the radish plants our class planted the second week of lessons. 

After the students looked over their plant for the second week and discussed with me changes and similarities they wrote about it in their journal. With this work done and time still left I thought it would be fun to let the students get their hands dirty! I brought my group over to a bed over grown with weeds and showed them how to properly pull a weed getting as much of the root as possible. While we were pulling weeds the students told me why we need to take care of the beds and what weeds do to the plants. At the end of the lesson I had my students make a hypotheses about what the bed we weeded will look like next week. Will there be more weeds? 

Right before it was time for the students to finish their lesson it started to rain and we only had one class come out. Hopefully our next few weeks will be better weather so we can finish up all the lessons with our classes! 

Until next week,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This week we got into even more detail about our garden, making specific observations, taking measurements, and formulating hypothesis we could track in the next few weeks. 

Each student had their own plant to observe:

 They were able to use their eyes, hands, and nose to take notes and make diagrams.

Once we were done we even had time for a quick bug-hunt around the garden and to check out our un-ripe papaya and bananas!

And, as always, time for silly pictures:

It's be really wonderful to be so close with our garden these past weeks. By really getting to know it we are all able to connect deeper to our neighbordhood and each other.

See you next week!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Friday, October 31
Pollinators Lesson

The students had a very exciting time learning about the various types of pollinators and the process they have in the life cycle of the plant. They had a lot of fun spotting the many different pollinators such as bees. This seemed to have been their favorite part because they got the run around while exploring.
They learned how pollen is transferred within the plant from the Anther to the Pistil. They also learned that after germination occurs, fruit will often be produced. 

It was another exciting day at the Edible Peace Patch and the children were elated to have leaned so much while having fun. 

This week in the garden we're talking all about the plant cycle which lead us to a lot, and a lot, of questions! We wanted to start thinking about things that are going in our garden, especially with seeds we planted just a few weeks ago.

So we started out with a walk around the garden. Each group member took a turn taking us to a new spot and showed us things that they observed in that area. Every one was able to see something new, and unique about each place; whether it was new growth, certain bugs, or damage.

In each location we brainstormed questions we could ask about the things we saw. Like why are some of our pineapple plants smaller than others? What could be affecting their growth?

Or we would see things like plants with 'holes' in them and wonder what/who could be causing this kind of damage and why (maybe Pab can help us out with this one!).

After our walks they had time to record one observation, a corresponding question, and a hypothesis that could be tested to understand the observation better.

Looking forward to what next week brings in the garden!

Stay well,

Monday, November 3, 2014

What did we do in the garden today?
We asked questions! about the garden of course.

We started off learning about the Scientific Method, then we toured the garden, and each student asked a question about a specific part of the garden. 
We then formulated our hypotheses, and talked about how we could test these, then we learned a couple of ways to analyze our data, and what happens with our hypotheses!

Here are some third graders researching the bananas from the tree.
The banana tree is always favorite among my students at Sanderlin.

Here is our team huddle to formulate our last group question- which was "how long does it take for a pineapple plant to grow?"

The kids were full of interesting questions, and even more full of hypotheses, which we learned today, are predictions
Thank you!
Kendal Q

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lakewood Elementary Service Day!


Join us in spending the morning in our Lakewood Elementary schoolyard garden. The Junior League of St. Pete will be lending a big helping hand for this Service Day!
Saturday November 15th 2014 9AM-1PM
We take this time to catch up on garden maintenance and to finish larger projects so that our gardens are ready for the students who come out weekly to learn and explore.
Morning refreshments are provided.
Bring along your family, friends, and your gardening tools!
p.s. Bring along your compost-ables to donate to our compost bins(veggie and fruit scraps, oak leaves, coffee grounds, tea bags, BUT NO MEAT or DAIRY, please)!
Visit peacepatch.org for more info about our project.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Keep an eye out for the addition of November and December service days!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another Exciting Friday at Sanderlin IB
October 24,2014

The students become very excited when they were asked if they were ready to learn about bugs. We taught them the four main roles that bugs play including Garden Helpers, Pollinators, Decomposers and Pests. They learned why each of these roles is important for the garden while having fun.
They collected varies species of insects in the garden and placed them on the lids. They were fascinated by the number of bugs that exist. They learned a lot and they did not want to leave the garden.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Workday Weeding

As Dani already filled us in on; this week at Sanderlin our students had the day, off but we didn't! We came in to do some much needed maintenance.

We decided to start with the pineapple patch, and what a job that was. It took a few good passes to make sure we didn't leave any stragglers behind.

But we had a great time doing it and the pineapple patch is looking great!

We also had a sweet moment that reminded us how beautiful the garden truly is. We saw what appeared to be a drowned lizard in a bucket, but when we went to place him in an away location he moved! The little guy was holding on to life and we happened to be there at the right time to help him out. The garden can teach us, and our students, so much about life and how important it is to have hope and to always be kind to everything you encounter.

See you next time! MJ

Monday, October 20, 2014

Maintenance Time

Today the students had a day off because of a staff development day, but that didn't keep us out of the garden! I got to do a maintenance day with two other Eckerd College volunteers. All of the students in our groups are very excited to look at the pineapple part of the garden, but lately weeds had taken over. Naturally we decided to clean up this area first. While we were weeding we saw tons of bugs, which of course means good healthy soil! We also got to see a tiny little frog hopping between the different pineapple plants. It is exciting to see so much life in this school yard garden.

This picture is of the end of our hour long weeding process. MJ is finishing up the last few weeds that were trying to hide under the pineapple plants.

There was a half hour left of our time at the garden and we started to turn over the compost piles. It is surprisingly much harder than you would expect. After a half hour I was good and tired and didn't even get a whole pile over to the next bin. The compost was also full of little bugs. I saw a cockroach, a bunch of spiders and little beetles crawling all through this decomposing matter!

Sadly bugs weren't the only things found in the compost. There were a few plastic bags that got mixed in. It seems that they must have been blown in by the wind, luckily I think I found almost all of them in my pile and disposed of them.

Have a great week everyone!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sanderlin Garden October 13, 2014

This week we learned about parts of plants! It was a nice breezy day when our first class of second graders at Sanderlin IB World School came out to learn about the garden. Once we divided up into our small groups, I asked the kids what parts of the plant they already knew. They knew them all! When I asked what their function was, it wasn't quite as easy- but after a quick, but knowledge filled, lesson we were off into the garden to find a plant for each group member. 

Here are my group members showing their plants!

Here one of our group members found some mysterious "eggs" on his plant!

After we found the perfect plant, I had them diagram their plants, and label each part and job.

We also found some caterpillar food!

Thanks guys!
Kendal Q

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Root --> Stem --> Leaf --> Flower

This week in the garden we are talking about parts of the plant. My groups learned four parts of a plant that all (or almost all) plants have. These parts are, roots, stem, leafs and flowers. Each student in my group had a turn talking about a part of the flower and what the main function was, luckily I had four people per group so everyone got a turn to speak! After we talked about the parts of the flower and what they do we got to pick some weeds and look at real plants and their parts. 

Once students had plants in their hand they got very excited to show the parts of their plant and also tell differences their weed had compared to other students. All three of my groups really liked the roots and found it interesting the different styles of roots they saw. 

Lastly we went to the compost and quickly talked about what compost is and how it is effective in gardening. Over all the students were engaged and excited to share their knowledge about plants. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

We're moving along quickly here at Sanderlin! We planted radishes and beets just last week; learning about baby plants and safe growing conditions for our little seedlings. This week we learned about the parts of the plant. Hopefully we'll get to see them growing soon!

After learning what the four main parts of a plant are we walked around the garden seeing different plants and how the parts can look.

Our group was able to pick some weeds (bonus!) and use them to get an up close and personal view.

Some even tested the parts of the plants to see how they might work.

And we even got to see a tiny frog!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Edible Peace Patch Featured Plant No 2: Prickly Pineapples!

Welcome to the second posting in a series called the 
Edible Peace Patch Featured Plant
Check out the post on the first featured plant, the papaya. The second is also one of the all-time favorites among the children who visit the schoolyard gardens...

Pineapple (Ananas, Nanas, Pina)
Ananas comosus

The pineapple is a bromeliad (belonging to the family Bromeliaceae). It has a short, thick stem and a rosette of long, waxy leaves that are serrated on the edges. The plant starts off small, but can grow to be 2-6 ft tall and 3-4 ft wide. The fruit is oval to cylindrical and can be up to a foot long and 8 lbs heavy. It's what botanists call a multiple fruit, meaning it forms when many smaller fruits from separate flowers fuse together around a common center. The fruit has a tough, scaly rind, and the color of the ripe flesh can be any shade between white and yellow. 

See the individual purple flowers above each scale? Notice the sharp spines on the leaves, too.
Growing Conditions: 
The plant grows best in tropical climates with well-drained, sandy loam soil. The Pinellas county peninsula has sandy soils and a zone 10 micro-climate suited to growing pineapples. But our soil tends to be basic and lacks organic matter. Before planting pineapples, amende the soil so that it has a pH 4.5 to 6.5 and plenty of organic matter. Fertilize the plant with nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Plant pineapples in a sunny spot that drains well. They are very drought-resistant, but need plenty of water to successfully grow and produce fruit. Plant them 12 inches apart, preferably in the summer time. 

You can cultivate pineapples a few different ways: 
1. Plant the crowns, the top of the fruits: The easiest way to grow pineapples, but it takes a long time before the plant matures and bears fruit. Peel off the leaves at the bottom, let the crown dry a few days, then plant it about 2 inches deep. You can do this with your leftover pineapple tops.
2. Plant the suckers that grow at the axils (where the leaves meet the stem): One of the preferred methods of propagation. Sometimes you can get the crown to send off suckers if you leave the crown on the ground in a moist, nutrient-rich area (ex: next to your compost pile). Just toss the pineapple top on the ground, wait until a sucker grows, then take off the sucker and plant it!
3. Plant the slips that grow from the stalk below the fruitOne of the preferred methods of propagation
4. Plant the rattoons that come from the portion of the stem that is under the ground. A less successfully and more invasive form of propagation.

Planting pineapple crowns at Campbell Park Elementary schoolyard garden. 
The pineapple plant is indigenous to Paraguay and Brazil. It was spread by the local Indians up through South and Central America and on to the Caribbean islands. Christopher Columbus and his crew were the first Europeans to taste the fruit when they landed on the island of Guadeloupe in 1493.They spread the fruit to rest of the world, mainly because the sailors decided to carry it along with them for protection against scurvy (a disease caused by the deficiency of vitamin C). The pineapple gained popularity in Renaissance Europe, particularly among the royalty who could afford the exotic, sugary delicacy. In colonial times, the pineapple was such a coveted table decoration, that households actually rented the fruit to include it in evening party centerpieces...The pineapple industry is now worldwide, and has gained some attention for the unsustainable cultivation of the fruit. But sustainable growing practices do exist, including methods like we employ in our schoolyard gardens:

Hank adding to the Sanderlin Pineapple Patch!
What's so special?
  1. Fresh pineapple is low in calories. 
  2. Its flesh contains no saturated fats or cholesterol
  3. It is rich source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber like pectin.
  4. Pineapple fruit contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain that digests food by breaking down protein. Bromelain also has anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting and anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that consumption of pineapple regularly helps fight against arthritis, indigestion and worm infestation.
  5. Fresh pineapple is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C. Vitamin C is required for the collagen synthesis in the body. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body fend off infectious diseases, scurvy and pro-inflammatory free radicals.
  6. It also contains small amount the antioxidants Vitamin A and beta-carotene. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes, skin and vision. Studies have suggested that consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps the human body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  7. It is rich in B-complex vitamins like folates, thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and minerals like copper, manganese, and potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids and helps control heart rate and blog pressure. Copper is a cofactor for red blood synthesis. Manganese is a cofactor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, a very powerful free-radical scavenger (http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/pineapple.html).

Personal notes
It takes a patient person to grow a pineapple. In the gardens I've worked, it's taken an average of 2 years after planting for pineapples to start to flower, and then it can be another 6 months before the fruit matures and ripens. Get suckers and slips from friends whenever possible, because these tend to grow faster than crowns. 

Until next time, 
Save your pineapple tops!

Garden Program Coordinator