Spring Happenings at the School Farm!

What an extraordinary spring we’re having!

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Growing and learning at the Farm!
Always the delightful signs of spring, the tulips and daffodils that the fourth graders planted are blooming at the Farm, offering lots of opportunity to study flowers and enjoy beauty. Peas are everywhere! Glorious lettuce, spinach and kale in the hoophouse are happy as can be, and help teach plant structure and diversity. We now have lots of fresh greens for garden tacos!

Taco Tuesday!
Our second Taco Tuesday was another rousing success! Big thanks to all the volunteers and students who helped make it happen! The next Taco Tuesday is May 8th, from 5 – 7 pm at the Elementary School. Join us for the delicious feast, and please invite your family, friends and neighbors. RSVP HERE!

Culinary program!
We are thrilled to have been able to move the culinary classroom to the old Family Resource Center portable. Thank you South Whidbey School District for providing this facility! We have named the building the CAFE, acronym for Culinary Arts and Farm Education. The first lesson in the Cafe was stir-fry. The students selected and prepped kale, bokchoi and carrots from the Farm, cooked them up, and made Nicole’s special sauce. It was a hit! When are we having this for lunch, they asked!

Earth Day!
Thank you powers that be! On April 19th, after days of rain, the sun came out for our K – 4 celebration of Earth Day. Hundreds of children streamed down to the farm and divided into engaging activities from farming and science to culinary to arts and crafts.

 

After their activity, the students enjoyed two delicious soups made from farm veggies: potato soup, and veggie soup. They loved both of them! They made garden tacos from lettuce, spinach, arugula, sorrel and kale leaves, kale flowers and pea shoots, topped with pea shoot pesto or a magic bean and cheese sauce. Yum!

The Magic of Our Water!
The Middle Schoolers, grades 5 – 8, were treated to a special Earth Day “The Magic of Our Water” show with Steffan Soule. Thank you to the South Whidbey Schools Foundation for their support!

The students were eager to participate on stage with Steffan as he demonstrated through amazing magic tricks how we are connected to each other and the natural world, the flow of water through our aquifers and how our actions affect its purity, principles of a balanced ecosystem, and the rings of interconnection: You, Water (the environment), Our Commitment, Conservation, Preservation, Understanding. Inspiring!

Yes, it’s been a magical and majestic spring!

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Posted in Children in the garden, Culinary, Earth Day, Events, Taco Tuesday, Updates from the garden!

The Garden is a Habitat

Students at the School Farm have a specific big idea that they work on during the year. Kindergarten and grade one students focus on the idea that The Garden is a Habitat. Of course the big ideas overlap and connect as the students progress through the grades.

What starts out as a lesson in planting or digging soon turns into a fascination with what’s living in the soil: earthworms, grubs, wireworms, centipedes, spiders, and ladybugs to name a few.

Heads turned toward the ground often take a minute to look up when we hear bird song or the distinctive cry of eagles flying overhead. Excited voices quiet down around the junco nest that appears each year near the big orange poppy.

We take the time to learn about the insects and worms that build our soil. We nurture our in-ground worm bins with kitchen scraps from the lunchroom and always have a good supply of worm castings to enrich our garden beds. Students quickly learn that the earthworms are beneficial to our garden, and that wireworms are pests that we take out of the soil.

The garden is a wonderful living laboratory that contains endless cycles of life. Piles of corn stalks, squash vines, and leaves sit outside the garden gate in our habitat area and create habitat for insects. Students build little stacks of rocks, sticks, and wood in hopes of making shelter for beneficial garden pollinators. Mason bee houses that students made from tin cans and bamboo last year, now contain mason bee eggs that will hatch out when the weather warms providing more pollinators for our garden.

Sometimes, we even have visitors from the woods behind the garden fence come and delight our nature loving scientists.

 

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

Taco Tuesday on April 10th

Version 2Our next Taco Tuesday is on Tuesday, April 10th, from 5 – 7 pm, at the South Whidbey Elementary School! It’s a fundraiser for the School Farm and Culinary program. Sliding scale $6 – 10 per person.

We’ll be having the same delicious fresh-made masa harina tortillas with frijoles made from scarlet runner beans, with seasonal toppings from the garden, guacamole, cheese and peashoot salsa verde.

Click HERE for the recipes for the masa tortillas and frijoles. Yum!

Click HERE to RSVP, or email swschoolfarm@gmail.com

We will have pea and lettuce starts, and scarlet runner bean seeds available by donation! Grow your own frijoles and toppings!

Read about our Taco Tuesday event in March HERE

Posted in Culinary, Events, Taco Tuesday

Welcome Tran Hoang, School Farm apprentice!

A big and warm welcome to 2018 Grow Whidbey School Farm apprentice Tran Hoang!

I grew up on a chicken farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Interestingly enough, my curiosity in farming piqued while I was living in New York City, where I volunteered at farmers markets to escape my day job as an IT consultant. In a city where most folks don’t know their neighbor, I felt a strange sense of community. I loved connecting with my neighbors to promote local food. Since then I actively sought out opportunities to learn more about food.

I quit my first job after 3.5 years and moved to Portland, OR where I pursued a Masters of Science in Nutrition. The program exposed me to many teachings and beliefs around food, creating inside me a voracious appetite of curiosity for learning.

Post grad school, I worked as a nutritionist at a reputable grocery store in Seattle. It was what I considered a “dream job.” I had the opportunity to help others as well as eat really good food with great people. I continued to connect with my community, but my connection with food was stagnating. This itch to learn more was all too familiar. I realized I wanted to experience all aspects of the life cycle of food, especially growing food, which brought me to Whidbey Island.

As a school farm apprentice, I’ll have the opportunity to deepen my understanding of food, as well as my relationship with food. I’m thrilled to be part of the South Whidbey School Farms program this year and can’t wait to share my joy of food with the community!

~~~Tran

Posted in Grow Whidbey apprentices

Fourth Grade Designers and Engineers

Working the soil in the spring to prepare beds, plant peas and get the garden going take on a new dimension with our fourth grade students.  Fourth graders at South Whidbey Elementary become designers and engineers as they prepare to plant peas out in the garden beds.  They work in small groups to design pea trellis’s by drawing, discussing and finally agreeing on a common design to build as a model before building the final trellis’s out in the garden. Problems arise as they work through the process and designs change as they work.

‘K-12 Science education should reflect the interconnected Nature of Science as it is practiced and experienced in the real world’.  The School Farm is our own living science lab.  Students watch and interact with the growing, tending and eating of the fresh food that is produced through their efforts with the guidance of the school farm team.  At the School Farm we target the Next Generation Science standards as a natural part of our garden lessons.

Not only are the fourth graders targeting Next Generation Science standards, they are also learning the important skill of cooperation, teamwork, and problem solving as they work in small groups to design pea trellis’s.  They have to agree on a design based on the unique features and needs of pea plants.

Will our designs work?  Will the pea plants be supported?  Find the answers to these and other fascinating questions on our blog or better yet, at the School Farm!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

A terrific Taco Tuesday!

So delicious!

Fresh tortillas made on the spot from masa harina corn flour, frijoles from our scarlet runner beans, shredded carrots, kale and cabbage fresh picked from the school farm, guacamole, cheese and hibiscus tea… YUM!

 

 

Over 225 parents, grandparents and children enjoyed tacos at the first Taco Tuesday held at the Elementary School on March 13th, and organized by the School Farm and Culinary program, with the assistance of a lot of students!

 

Students helped prepare the food in the days before the event, and then helped set up and serve. Cub Scout Pack 57 joined in during the event and did a great job making the tortillas and cooking them on the griddle. A big thanks to Nicole Whittington-Johnson and her student culinary team!

The event was a fundraiser for the school farms program… a local donor is giving a 2 for 1 match! Every dollar donated is matched by 2 more! If you didn’t make it and want to donate to support the program, click HERE.

We will be having another Taco Tuesday on Tuesday, April 10th. Save the date!

If you and your family would like to volunteer to join in the fun of helping to make the event happen, we are gathering names for our Team Taco Tuesday. Email swschoolfarm@gmail.com

Thanks to all who helped make this event such a delicious success!

A big shout out to Useless Bay Coffee Company for their support!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Growing an Abundance of Peas!

The students at the School Farm have planted and watched the peas sprout indoors. The bright green shoots and the beginning of tendrils have formed. The rainy days inside have given us time to study the way the seeds sprout and how they grow from seeds to forming roots and bright green shoots above the soil. The tangle of roots shooting out of the bottom of our pots and soil blocks is signaling us that it’s time to plant outdoors in the garden beds.

On Friday, March 2nd we planted the first peas outside in the garden beds! It was an exciting moment watching the bright green peas being tucked into the soil. Students learned about planting, cooperation, and the special features of pea plants as they carefully planted the starts.

The final step after all the peas were planted in the ground was watering carefully and then covering them up with some light row cover to keep them warm at night, then we planted more peas in soil blocks so that we’ll have an abundance of peas available for families to take home on Taco Tuesday,  March 13th. Everyone agreed that the promise of crisp, crunchy peas made working out in the cold spring weather worthwhile.

Posted in Updates from the garden!