Thank you Pacific Utility!

Looks like a simple hose bib to water the garden? Maybe so – but it took the hefty machinery above to make it happen! We now have water to the High School Garden thanks to a very generous donation from Pacific Utility to install water lines in the garden… including drilling underneath the bus service road.

Pacific Utility is the subcontractor Whidbey Telecom works with to lay all the underground infrastructure for the Big Gig. They came with different kinds of machinery that bored tunnels in the ground to install the water pipes. The north/south line was made with a device that rammed its way through the earth… very slowly in the hard ground!

 

To install the long east/west line, a sophisticated underground boring machine drilled a tunnel 290 feet long through the garden and under the road!

The first machine that attempted to bore through the hard soil of the garden couldn’t do it. We were left in awe of how beautifully the garden was growing on tough Whidbey hardpan!

 

And mightily impressed with the perseverance and generosity of Pacific Utility who were undaunted and returned with a monster machine from Tacoma.

Notice the boring drill going into the earth, and the lengths of pipe that are attached as it makes its way through the ground.

Jesse directed the path of the drill and gave instructions to the machine operator as to which way to lead the drill up or down, left or right.

To cross the road, the drill needed to follow the slope of the garden down to the road, dive down to about five feet under the road and then resurface on the other side.

Black poly pipe was connected to the underground pipe and then pulled back through the length of the garden!

A long ditch was trenched right along side the building, and tunneled under a sidewalk to connect with the water source.

Then the lines could be hooked up… and the hose bib installed!

It was a big job and tremendous effort with some really hard soil, but Pacific Utility prevailed, and the High School Garden now has water! There will be four hose bibs in the different sections of the garden. Thank you so much Pacific Utility for generously donating so much time and equipment, and to the crews who worked so hard to make it happen!

The first crew.

We now have water flowing from our hose bibs!

Posted in High School Garden, Updates from the garden!

Summer Goodbyes

On June 16th as the school farm team watched the big yellow busses pull away from the Elementary school,  we felt a wave of sadness at the temporary loss of our hungry enthusiastic students.

The fresh salad served at the Orcas Picnic on June 8th marked the end of our garden events for the year. Fifth grade students harvested and prepared a delicious salad from the garden that included lettuce, peas, carrots, onions, radishes and a variety of edible flowers. Third graders made Kale and Spinach pesto to dress the salad. Happy smiles were observed as bowls of the fresh, student grown and prepared salad were eaten along with the barbecue’d hot dogs and baked goods at the picnic.

All classes made their final visits to the garden and had their final garden nibble of the 2016-17 school year.  Second grade students took time to reflect on their year in the garden and think about how we have worked to build our garden soil throughout the  season.  They all showed their understanding by creating a picture and sharing it with each other and their teachers. Clearly everyone understood that mulching, cover cropping and decomposition are part of soil building. It’s also easy to see that carrots are a favorite garden nibble!

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First grade students said goodbye to the garden by noticing the cycle of change in our much loved kale plants.  We pulled out the kale, observed and drew the shrinking leaves and expanding seed pods forming as the plants go from flower to seed.  We met in our garden circle one last time and enjoyed some fresh carrots and peas while we remembered and shared our favorite moments in the garden.

The third, fourth and fifth grade students had time to come to the garden in May and June on an irregular schedule due to testing and end of year activities.  However, it was fun to see the wide eyed fourth graders as they checked on the peas they’d planted. All of their designing and building of the trellis’s rewarded them with yummy green treats to eat within easy reach.  All classes sat in the garden circle one last time and shared their favorite garden memories. Carrots always come into the conversation, along with Kale  and anything having to do with eating fresh picked produce from the garden.

The garden is quiet now, the school farm team is rotating crops and putting in tomato and cucumber plants along with rows of carrots and lettuce for the fall harvest.  The abundant snow and sugar snap peas are ripe for the picking and between the farm team, and summer visitors we’ve harvested many pounds the of these delicious treats.  The beans are rapidly growing vines that will soon create a beautiful green shelter for the returning students in September.

We host the community and welcome families on Tuesday mornings at the School Farm from 9:00-12:00 for work party and a community lunch in the garden. Please join us!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

A new snack garden!

When kindergarten teacher Diane Burgess retired, her garden needed new caretakers. The little raised beds were hard to maintain and had gotten a little overgrown. So the School Farm and Garden program got the go-ahead from the Elementary School to transform the little garden into a larger growing space that would grow snack veggies for the students to pick. A $1000 grant from Kidsgardening.org provided the funds for tilling the ground, and purchasing fencing, and seeds and supplies for planting and making starts.

The old beds were removed, native plants were relocated to the Second Grade garden cove next to the School Farm, and the kindergartners helped spread the soil in preparation for tilling.

Fifth grade students helped with the design of the garden as well as the vigorous work of spreading compost and making the paths and the beds. They also planted peas, broccoli, kale, radishes and french sorrel which grew beautifully, and were eagerly eaten!

Everyone is looking forward to the carrots, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, ground cherries, kale, broccoli and sorrel that will be ready for more snacking in the fall!

We find that the students love to fill their pockets with veggies to snack on later, or to bring home to their family… they just have to be careful with the tomatoes!

 

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Summertime Gardening at the School Farm and High School Garden

Summertime Gardening!

Join us at one or both of these work parties and picnics weekly through the summer…


School Farm on Tuesdays

from 9 am – 12 noon
with picnic lunch at noon
starting June 20th

High School Garden on Thursdays
from 9 am – 12 noon
with picnic lunch at noon
starting June 22nd

 
 

Enjoy salad from the garden and garden “tacos”

Bring your parents, grandparents, friends, and family members.
Help grow vegetables for the school and our community!

All ages and skill levels are welcome!
Join us at any time during the morning.
Children must be accompanied by an adult.

The School Farm is located at 5476 Maxwelton Road, Langley, WA.
To the south of the Elementary School, behind the South Whidbey Academy.

The SW High School is located at 5675 Maxwelton Rd, Langley, WA.

Questions? Contact Cary Peterson (360) 593-2725 or email schoolgardenswhidbey@gmail.com

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Whidbey Island Garden Tour on June 17!

The Whidbey Island Garden Tour is on Sunday, June 17th this year and once again showcases five spectacular Whidbey gardens.

Over the years, the tour has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to local nonprofits that benefit our environment and community.


This year the new High School Garden is a beneficiary of garden tour funding! 

Enjoy a day of touring the gardens while benefiting the community. Your purchase of a ticket supports the school farm and garden program and many other community organizations on Whidbey Island!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Munching through the Spring Garden

The oft asked question, ‘Can we have carrots for garden nibbles?’ is now being met with a resounding ‘YES!’ from the garden staff.  Our first crop of carrots are ready for harvest and the students have been happily munching them after each garden class.  Carrots are the most popular garden nibble and we suspect there is an element of magic that can’t be ignored. Pulling the carrot out of the soil is almost as satisfying as eating them. Munching every last bit of orange goodness ends an hour in the garden with smiles from the children. Carrots, lettuce, spinach, kale, and peas are all ready for eating. Happy students walking the garden paths this spring with handfuls of green and bright orange.  Carrot taco anyone?

Learning about Pollinators, bees specifically, and digging deep into the soil to see what’s living there has been an inquiry that the First Grade students have done very well.  Their enthusiasm and straight forward connection to the living world of the garden is always a delight to see.

 

The much beloved kale was harvested by the Second Grade students recently.  After the harvest, students studied the entire plant, noting the green seed pods forming on the stem and drawing the plants in their journals. The kale plants have provided endless garden nibbles for the students throughout the year. As the kale plants go to seed, we keep them in the garden to watch them flower and grow seed pods. The students love to eat the kale flowers as well.

Third Grade students have learned about seed families by hands on experience with sorting, naming, and then planting seeds in the soil.  They enjoyed learning the different ‘family’ names and learning how the plants produce seeds. The final, and most popular step was harvesting and preparing a fresh salad bowl that was dressed with freshly made dressing. Liza Elman, our culinary arts instructor, was on hand to support students in making the dressing.

Fourth Grade students have designed and engineered trellis’s for peas. They are now observing as the peas they planted are climbing on the trellis’s and beginning to produce peas for eating. Recently, they also planted beans around the poles of our bean teepees and took the time to notice the differences in the ways the peas and beans grow and how we support growth of each plant differently.

Growing micro greens through the dark, cool days of early spring has been a task that the Grade Five students took charge of. The pea shoots produced were eaten fresh, and also made into pea shoot pesto that was used on Earth Day as a condiment for veggie snacks.  Many students (and teachers) have become pea shoot converts and prefer pea shoot pesto to the traditional basil variety.

A new garden has grown up near the first grade wing, on the West side of the Elementary school. The fifth grade students have helped dig out pathways and prepared the beds that are now producing some fresh peas, kale, sorrel and broccoli.  Fifth graders will continue to check in and work on the easily accessible SNACC garden. It’s just a hop, skip and jump away from the play field and they can come over during recess to help and nibble.

This spring has kept us busy with cold, wet weather however there’s no stopping the growing. Just like the children who come to garden classes each week, enthusiastic, hungry and full of surprises the garden has provided a wealth of learning and eating.   Children, gardens, eating and growing, a winning combination!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Summertime Gardening at the School Farm and High School Garden

Page has moved! Click HERE to find out about our summer work parties!

Posted in Updates from the garden!