Pumpkin harvest in the news!

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

Posted in Updates from the garden!

The Autumn Cycle

Learning about the seasonal cycles is a big part of our weekly lessons at the School Farm.  Autumn is rich will opportunity to explore. The plants appear to be dying off, however if we look closer we notice that they are full of seeds. Learning how plants reproduce puts the whole process into a wonderful perspective. Fourth and fifth graders learned about this process by discovering how seeds travel and the details of how plants make more plants. Looking closely at flowers and drawing the details of their anatomy gave us clues to how the seeds form. Students thought about the pollinators that we see in the garden and made guesses as to how they take part in the process of helping the plants thrive. We looked closely at seeds and guessed how they might travel from the mother plants to other places to find room to grow.

Third graders completed an important cycle by harvesting the potato plants that they planted last spring. First, they heard the story of the Makah-Ozette potato and how they found their way to Washington State in the 1700’s. The harvest was like a treasure hunt as they each pulled up a plant and then dug around to find more potatoes in the soil. The potatoes will be processed into mashed potatoes for the Harvest Feast on November 15th in the Elementary School cafeteria.

A small group of third graders came to the garden on a sunny day during recess recently to harvest our popcorn before the rain. They were rewarded with some freshly popped corn from our Dakota Black popcorn. Thanks to their efforts we’ll have plenty of fresh popcorn for the coming year.

Sometimes our School Farm lessons have to accommodate sudden weather changes.  Kindergarten and first graders dodged the rain and worked in the big greenhouse to shell peas. They were able to use the peas for counting and adding as they went along.

Second graders focus on soil and how to make soil that nourishes the vegetables at our farm. We look at worms, compost, and decomposition. It’s a fascinating inquiry into what makes soil and how we nurture the soil in our garden beds. Activities such as cover cropping, mulching, examining decomposing plants and trench composting are all informative activities that lead to healthy soil and delicious vegetables.

Lately, the red winged blackbirds have been visiting our School Farm. They love to eat the sunflower seeds. The black and red of their feathers create a beautiful picture as they fly from flower to flower.  The garden is a living science lab and students find ways to explore and discover each time they visit. Plus, eating the fresh food that has been lovingly grown and tended is always a highlight at the end of each School Farm lesson.


Posted in Updates from the garden!

School Begins!


All summer the farm has been tended by the School Farm team and volunteers in anticipation of the students returning. Bean teepees have grown into perfect hiding places for sharing a garden nibble and talking with a friend. Vegetables ready for harvest along with an array of colorful flowers to keep the students busy exploring and happily munching. There is so much to see and do!

Looking closely and noticing the cycles of nature on display was a favorite activity for students during the first week of School Farm lessons.

Students explored the lush beds and noticed how much everything has grown since their last visit in June. So many carrots, beans, cucumbers, flowers, tomatoes, ground cherries, and peppers!

We take time to explore questions such as: What parts of the plants do we eat? The stems, leaves, flowers, fruit or seeds? Taking time to think and take a tally of the plants slows the pace and increases our knowledge of the food we eat. How long does it take to grow a carrot? What is a ground cherry? How do you know if a fruit or vegetable is ripe and ready to eat? The students happily find the answers and share with each other and the farmers at the School Farm. It’s their garden and it’s easy to see that they feel comfortable and at home therein.

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Summer growing for fall classes

IMG_2745We have spent the summer getting the School Farms planted and ready for the return of hundreds of students coming to learn and eat!

Planting for a September peak is tricky, but we have carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, beans, lettuce, spinach, basil, popcorn, kale, bokchoi, cabbage and turnips all growing and ripening for the children in their farm classes, and for lunches at the cafeteria. We’ve planted kohlrabi for the first time to see how the students like it.

The scarlet runner beans are almost to the top of their tipis, and sunflowers and flowers to attract pollinators and beneficial insects are everywhere!

Thanks to all those who helped at our Tuesday morning School Farm and Thursday morning High School Garden work parties (still happening through the end of August)!

The gardens in front and behind the High School are also ready for the return of the students.

Last but not least the CAFE garden, with its new hoophouse, is ready with herbs and veggies for the return of the students to their culinary classes!


Posted in Culinary, Hoophouse, Updates from the garden!

Summer at the School Farm!

What fun to get an aerial view of the School Farm in summer! Thanks to Nicole Whittington-Johnson, culinary teacher, who snapped this photo from up in the sky showing the South Campus, School Farm and Shakespeare Festival tent and stage.

The grass fields may be brown, but the garden beds are well-irrigated and growing! White beds have floating row cover over them that keeps the moisture in for just seeded carrots. The beds that look brown have recently planted veggies that will be in their prime when school begins – beans, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini, beets, lettuce, carrots. The tomato, corn, winter squash, potato,  scarlet runner bean and flower beds are green from the air. The hoophouses are filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and peppers. We plant for fall when the students return to school, not for summer when they are on vacation!

Our work parties are from 9:30 – 12 noon on Tuesdays at the School Farm, and Thursdays at the High School Garden. Lunch at noon. In addition to the work parties, students from the Au Sable Summer Program at the Pacific Rim Institute and the UW Urban Farming class came and worked. A big thank you to all our volunteers!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

In the news!

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 8.15.05 AMWe’re in the news with an article that went out on the AP wires about “Many schools keep gardening efforts going all summer.”

The article features Seth Raabe, High School Ag teacher, and manager of the HS gardens. You can read it in the Washington Post HERE!

Caption from the article: “In this June 21, 2018 photo, Seth Raabe, an agriculture teacher and full-time manager for the South Whidbey (Island) High School Garden near Langley, Wash., is shown while preparing plant beds for students to cultivate upon their return to classes from summer vacation. There is no summertime break for school garden educators. (Dean Fosdick via AP) (Associated Press)

Join Seth at the High School work party on Thursdays from 9:30 – 12 noon. Help cultivate the garden and learn while working. The HS Garden is at 5675 Maxwelton Rd., Langley.  Read about our work parties at the High School and Elementary School campuses HERE.

Posted in In the news, Updates from the garden!, Work parties

Garden Reflections before Summer

At the school year’s end we ask all the students what they remember about the year’s activities and lessons and share a few of their favorites. The answers are always fun to hear:  Garden nibbles! Carrots! Taking down the bean teepees, Planting, Eating, Harvesting, Pulling out the old Kale Plants, Making a salad right from the garden, Putting up the bean teepees and more. It helps the farm team see the garden through their eyes and gives us all time to reflect. It’s always clear that the students love the garden and love spending time therein.

Primary students in Kindergarten through grade two did some reviewing of our garden song: Roots, Stems, Leaves, Flowers, Seeds and Fruit. We took it to the next level by going out into the garden and finding all the parts of the plants that we eat. After thinking and finding the parts, we collected each part for a delicious garden burrito. The outcome of this garden lesson was a big hit with the students and some questions did come up that led to learning about the life cycle of plants. For instance:  Where is the fruit? The apples aren’t ready to eat yet, so how do we collect fruit? We learned that the part of the plant that produces the seeds is the fruit and the peas are producing in abundance right now, an excellent addition to our garden burritos!

The carrots in our hoop house are ready for picking and all the students were able to pull a carrot out of the ground and eat these popular roots for the first time this spring. Satisfaction guaranteed in both harvest and tasting!

Recently, Grade three students said goodbye to the garden by examining leaves. They took time to draw the leaves and to used words to describe shape, color, and texture of the varied leaves in the garden. It gave students the freedom to sit in a favorite spot and observe the life around them. Observations multiplied into finding ladybugs, noticing that the delicious sorrel leaf is going to seed and that there are quite a few birds nesting in the thickets nearby.

There seems to be no limit to the delights and discoveries the students can make given a little time in the garden. When asked, ‘did anything surprise you?’, the answers were plentiful. Children who visit the garden weekly and participate in the work of preparing, planting, and harvesting can be surprised by what they find when they are guided to look at the garden from a different angle. There’s really no limit to their involvement with growing, nature and food. The garden is a living science lab that nourishes both our bodies and minds. Here’s what some of our students had to say:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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