A Long Line of Pumpkins

We’re developing some traditions at the School Farm. One that continues to fascinate is the long line of decomposing pumpkins. Nothing tells the story of decomposition like the gradient line of bright orange pumpkins lined up along the edge of the field adjacent to the farm. We start the line of cast off Halloween pumpkins with fresh looking whole pumpkins and move down the line with more and more decomposed specimens until there is a pile of black and orange goo at the end.

Students spend their last class of 2018 counting, drawing and categorizing the pumpkins. There’s always some fun drawings to see and some excited students running up and down the line checking out the colorful mold and exclaiming about the different carvings. Math comes alive as students count. This year we had one hundred and seventy nine pumpkins! For the older students there were plenty of number challenges having to do with categories and fractions. Younger students enjoyed looking closely, drawing, and discussing their favorites.

The bright orange outline along the edge of the field brightens up the cold winter landscape and gives us all a reason to smile.

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Harvest Feast 2018

 

The third annual Harvest Feast was a delicious success! We’ve been collaborating with the South Whidbey School kitchen since 2015 to present a traditional meal that can be shared by students, families, and community members. Pumpkin pies, kale salad, mashed potatoes and carrot sticks grown at our School Farm, joined with the turkey, dressing, gravy and rolls provided by the school lunch staff.

Each year the South Whidbey students have a hand in the Harvest Feast. We love to remember back to the second graders who plant potatoes and then harvest them in the fall of their third grade year for the mashed potatoes. It’s the same with our sugar pie pumpkins that fourth graders harvest in the fall.  They know they’ll be eating pumpkin pie with those pumpkins at the Harvest Feast!

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While all students have a hand in the growing and harvesting, fifth and sixth grade Farm Team did all the cooking and preparation of the food for Harvest Feast this year under the watchful guidance of Tran Hoang, our School Farm apprentice. The farm team followed a strict timeline to complete all aspects of food preparation for the feast.  Culinary skills were honed and polished as they cut, roasted, scooped and prepared fresh pumpkins into pies. Potatoes were cooked and mashed as well as carrot sticks cut from fresh crisp carrots, then the harvested kale was massaged and chopped, apples, carrots and parsnips were added for salad. Dressing recipes were sampled and perfected. This year’s kale salad turned out to be our most tasty kale salad to date.

It was especially satisfying to see students serve and share the food with family and community. Each grade from third through sixth signed up for a half hour shift to help serve the School Farm food.  As one student exclaimed when coming back for seconds, ‘This food is really good!!’. We agree the food we grow and share as community is good.  So many blessings come from the food we grow together at the School Farm.

We are grateful for our growing place at the school and especially grateful for our students who participate so fully in all stages of growing, harvesting and caring for our School Farm. To all who have participated with us; The School Farm Team of farmers and educators, the amazing and much loved farm apprentices, the South Whidbey teachers and school district staff, Goosefoot and The Goose Grocer, John LaVassar’s flowers, Whidbey Island Nourishes(WIN), our wonderful community and volunteers, we reach out with thanks and warm holiday wishes.

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Posted in Culinary, Harvest, Updates from the garden!

Growing and learning at the high school gardens

It’s been a big harvest season at the high school. Whether its our largest-ever popcorn crop, dry beans, our winter squash abundance, or the root crops that we keep harvesting– frozen ground or not– the food is flowing from both the gardens at the front and back of the high school.

Many in the high school’s Introduction to Agriculture class are seeing fall in a new light– in terms of seasonal food! Understanding seasonal food is an important part of how to live more sustainably. We have also been making our own potting mix from local materials including forest humus, worm castings and wood ash. Out in the garden we are planting the last of the garlic, mulching beds, and clearing out material for our winter compost pile.

Thanks to a grant from the South Whidbey Schools Foundation, we have lovely garden tool sheds for both gardens, making it easy to work and keep our tools safe and dry.

In class we have been studying modern agricultural technologies- pro’s and con’s, nutrients and pH, and each student presented on their Crop Projects.

Students in the 7th grade science classes have been learning about season cycles while planting cover crops and mulching, and plant families while harvesting potatoes and planting garlic. We have also been performing scientific investigations into decomposition through looking at factors that determine the rate of decay of Halloween pumpkins. It’s been fascinating!

Posted in High School Garden, Updates from the garden!

Putting the Farm to Bed

The School Farm is changing almost daily now. The weather cools, crops are in and beds are being cleaned and mulched for winter. Each group of students takes part in helping the farm get ready for winter. Pulling out the sunflowers, cleaning out the beds and harvesting flowers and produce are activities that the students approach with vigor and enthusiasm.

Bulbs are one of the the few plants we put into the ground during the Autumn at the School Farm. Grade Four students had the chance plant some daffodil, garlic, tulip and camas bulbs recently.  They studied the bulbs before they planted them and commented on the similarities and differences between the different bulbs as well as why they can be planted during the Autumn.  To reinforce their understanding by watching a bulb grow, they planted Narcissus bulbs in their classrooms.  Students will watch and care for the bulbs by keeping them watered until they bloom.

Some of the dried and harvested plants stay outside of the fence in our ‘habitat’ area. It’s where we keep the stones, boards, dried sunflower stems, corn stalks and things that won’t break down in our compost bins. Recently the Kindergarten and first grade students took materials from the ‘habitat’ area and made bug houses inside the farm orchard. We observed creative play at it’s best as students constructed dwellings for insects to use over the winter months.

‘Brown, green, microbes, and water! Second grade students could be heard chanting these words as they learned about making compost by doing the compost relay. Students lined up to add brown dried leaves, green matter, soil, and water in the prepared bins. Then just like magic, the compost bins were filled and ready to decompose into compost for our farm beds.

Even though we’re putting the farm to bed now, the School Farm still has carrots, kale and some cold weather vegetables for students to pick and eat. Cries of delight and serious crunching can be witnessed at the end of each School Farm lesson.

So it goes through the seasons, learning the rhythm of the Earth caring for our School Farm.

Posted in Children in the garden, Harvest, Updates from the garden!

Harvest Feast on Thursday, Nov. 15th!

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Harvest Feast pumpkin pie in the news!

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 11.12.18 PMHarvest Feast is the culminating event for the School Farms program, and this year students are preparing all the food under the tutelage of Tran Hoang, School Farm apprentice. The South Whidbey Record featured the grade 5/6 Culinary Team making pumpkin pie from pumpkins that the fourth graders harvested. Click HERE for the article!

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A big thank you to Whidbey Pies for the donation of 80 pie crusts!

 

Posted in Culinary, Events, Harvest, Thanksgiving feast, Updates from the garden!

Pumpkin harvest in the news!

In the news on Friday, Oct. 12th, click HERE for link.

Posted in Updates from the garden!