September learning and eating at the School Farm!

Posted in Children in the garden, Culinary, Harvest, Healthy snacks, Lessons, Natural dyeing, Updates from the garden!, Vermicomposting/Worm bins | Leave a comment

New Coolbot walk-in cooler!

We love our new walk-in Coolbot cooler! We now have enough cold storage for our harvest!

The School Farm grows produce for the school lunches, Whidbey Island Nourishes and the snack program, culinary classes and events. The walk-in unit we were sharing with WIN and the school district was too small for our many bins of produce.

Thanks to grants from OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) and the Goosefoot Community Fund we were able to purchase a walk-in refrigeration unit. Volunteers from the South Whidbey Rotary Club assembled it for us!

The 8 ft x 10 ft walk-in is cooled by an air conditioner that is modified by a Coolbot to keep our produce at the right temperature.

Here’s how it went up with the panels joined by a camlock. Enjoy this short video that tells you all about it!

Much appreciation to our community partners who helped us get the cold storage we need!

Posted in Coolbot, Funding support, Goosefoot, Harvest, Updates from the garden!, Volunteer | Leave a comment

Welcome to the 2021-2022 AmeriCorps Team!

A big and warm welcome to the 2021 -2022 AmeriCorps team who began their service on September 1st: Chad Fisher, Shayna Leibowitz, Lily Cowen and Rachel Nottingham. They join Mayme O’Toole (far right) who has been serving since Feb. 15th. Soon to arrive will be Riley Baker coming on October 1st. Read more about the farm team here.

September 1st was also the first day of school, and from day 1 the AmeriCorps team has been helping with the farm and culinary classes, farm cultivation and harvest, and snack program. We are so appreciative of their indispensable service!

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School begins!

It’s wonderful to have the students back at the School Farm! And they are full of wonder at the bean tipis and other delights to explore, enjoy and eat!

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Another spectacular Japanese Indigo dyeing party!

We wrapped up our summer of work parties with a wonderful indigo dyeing party! Japanese indigo was harvested and transformed into a rich blue dye!

After the indigo leaves were stripped from the stems, Cheryl Lawrence, fabric artist and indigo-inspirer, blended the leaves into marvelous green smoothies.

Then rubber bands were tied in silk fabric to make a tie-dye resist. The fabric was massaged in the green slurry for at least 30 minutes. The indican dye molecules released through blending oxidize and turn blue, and bind with the silk proteins.

Rubbings are also possible.

After a cold water rinse and removing the bands, the beautiful patterns were revealed!

Here’s a slideshow of some of the designs!

In September, the 5th and 6th graders will be doing this as part of their school farm classes! The indigo we cut will grow back for another round. 

For our video on the indigo dyeing process, click HERE.

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Summer Growing at the School Farm

We plant the School Farm to be peaking in September when the students return to school. There will be an abundance of veggies ready for them to pick and eat!

We also are growing a lot of flowers for the bees and other beneficial insects, as well as for botanical dyeing.

We are so appreciative of volunteers! Thank you to all those who have helped this summer at our work parties – we couldn’t do it all without you! We can still use help – come to a work party on Tuesday or Thursday morning, or let us know when you can volunteer!

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Indigo dyeing at the School Farm on August 10th

We are growing a lot of Japanese indigo at the School Farm because it is so much fun to dye with! On Tuesday, August 10th, starting at 9 am, Cheryl Lawrence, fabric artist, will be showing how to dye with Japanese indigo using a water-based process that results in beautiful blue designs on tie-dyed silk. To register, email cpeterson@sw.wednet.edu

HERE and HERE is what we’ve done in years previously. HERE is a video of the process.

This workshop takes place during our Tuesday work party, so if you’d like to stay and help at the farm after you have dyed your silk, we’d love your help!

For more details and a video about the process, click HERE.
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AmeriCorps service members needing affordable housing!

We have four new AmeriCorps Food and Farm Educators coming to serve at the School Farms program and Whidbey Island Nourishes this September. They will be needing affordable housing from September 1 – July 15th!

If you would like to help a young person coming to Whidbey to serve our school district and community, and have a room, cottage or apartment to rent, please contact Cary Peterson, School Farms Manager, at cpeterson@sw.wednet.edu.

Here is our 2021 – 2022 AmeriCorps team:

Read their short bios HERE.

We hope you can help Shayna, Rachel, Lily and Chad with housing! Thank you so much! Please contact Cary Peterson, School Farms Manager, at cpeterson@sw.wednet.edu

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Botanical eco-printing at the School Farm work party

We have a fun activity planned for our work party at the Elementary School Farm on July 20th, from 9 am – 12 noon!

Cheryl Lawrence, fabric artist, will be teaching eco-printing – extracting the natural pigments in plants to create beautiful patterns on paper. This art form is fun for all ages!

Collect leaves and flowers from the garden and forest, put them together in paper, and then cook in hot water! While it’s cooking (1 1/2 hour), we have garden activities to help grow veggies for the school.

Please RSVP so that we have enough special paper!
Email Cary Peterson at cpeterson@sw.wednet.edu to register.

Families and children welcome!
Children younger than High School age must be accompanied by an adult.
Masks are required.

The Elementary School Farm is at 5476 Maxwelton Rd., Langley, WA (behind the South Campus).

Other activities at the School Farm:
Tuesday, July 13th we will be making calendula salve.
Every Tuesday from 9 am – 12 noon is a work party at the Elementary School Farm.
Every Thursday from 9 am – 12 noon is a work party at the High School Garden.

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Second graders create a rain garden!

Jay Freundlich, aka Farmer Jay, shares about the Rain Garden project:

This year our Second Grade Class teachers chose to focus their Watershed Education on the importance of soil in a watershed. Fortunately the School Farm is the perfect place to study soil and the Farm had a problem (involving soil) which needed solving. The teachers led the way in generating an immersive and integrated experience for the students and our Farm Team provided the practical expertise in executing the student-generated solutions to the Farm’s problem.

Right now it seems difficult to imagine too much water being a problem on our School Farm. We spend much of our time mending and checking the irrigation system that keeps the  plants (which the Second Grade Class (now 3rd grade) will be eating) alive during the dry summer months. This will not be the case during the Fall and Winter when our Farm greenhouse becomes flooded because of poor soil drainage conditions in the area surrounding the Farm. This was the “problem” presented to the Second graders by the class teachers. Through a series of soil and water experiences and a collaborative imagining of the solutions to the flooding problem, the students generated the solution. They designed walls, dams, pipes, holding areas and plant areas to stop water draining off the playfield just north of the Farm. The design moves water downhill of the greenhouse and into a holding area, where it can infiltrate into the groundwater or continue downhill.

In our last class together the class put the finishing touches on the Rain Garden by spreading the bark mulch around the plants and hand watering each plant.  Before the final celebration of the class’ success, there was quite a bit of soil moving, rock hauling, plant selection, plant care, soil spreading, compost adding, trench digging, weeding and general fun happening on a weekly basis. It was a rewarding experience for the students and our Farm Team to complete.

The teachers – Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Hofius, Ms. Michell and Mrs. Thompson- made this video of the project HERE. Enjoy!

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