Accessible, elevated garden bed built by AmeriCorps Team!

The School Farm now has an accessible, elevated garden bed, thanks to generous donors and the initiative of our 2021 – 2022 AmeriCorps Team!

Their vision was to create a garden bed that would increase the physical accessibility of the school farm and serve as a calming space for students to use as needed. Read more HERE!

The AmeriCorps team designed the bed, and wrote the fundraising prospectus. After a successful fundraising campaign, the materials were purchased, and July 11th was the construction date!

Thank you AmeriCorps service members (L to R) Rachel Nottingham, Lily Cowen, Jay Freundlich (K-6 Farm Educator), Sheila Leibowitz, Emily Koller (Farm Manager), Riley Baker, Seth Raabe (HS Ag Teacher) and Chad Fisher!

We are also tremendously appreciative of the donors who helped fund the purchase of the materials, and soon… the plants!

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School Year ends & Summer work parties!

The students are now on summer break, and the farm team is busy growing the veggies for the fall when they return! Come help at our summer work parties on Tuesday and Thursday mornings!

We have lots of peas to share! Because of the cold cold spring, the peas came on late. But the students were finally able to munch peas to their heart’s content in the waning days of the school year.

The students also finished off the salad bar garden and enjoyed garden tacos…

….took down the kale plants, fed the worms, sifted compost to amend beds, planted popcorn, squash and other warm-weather crops, kept the baby oak trees watered, and so much more!

There was also time for reflection, and for loving the flowers and the pollinators!

Hope to see you this summer at the work parties on Tuesdays and Thursdays! Families and children welcome!

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Help us build an Accessible Elevated Garden!

The Accessible Elevated Garden Bed Project

We are the 2021-2022 AmeriCorps service team and we would like to contribute an important new feature of the school farm that would increase participation in the garden for all students and visitors!

Our vision for this project is to create a garden bed that increases the physical accessibility of our school farm and serves as a calming space for students to use as needed. 

This bed will be located near the solar barn (outdoor classroom) and the botanical dye flower beds.

The elevated bed is designed to be wheelchair accessible in order to increase the inclusivity of the school farm. Currently, the space is difficult to navigate for those in a wheelchair or with other physical accessibility needs. By creating an elevated bed that can accommodate a wheelchair and including seating around it, students who previously had difficulty navigating the garden have a dedicated space to participate in school farm curriculum and experiential learning.

Additionally, our plan includes a section for a sensory garden, which would include aromatic plants and plants with soft or interesting textures, and a sandbox which can serve as a stimulating place for students with impaired sight, students who can’t participate in the primary activity of the day, and younger students. Once the structure is built, the aim is to pair it with appropriate curriculum so students can feel ownership over the space and have the hands-on gardening experience we strive to provide.

“Providing for the accessibility of all of our students is a wonderful goal of this project.  Student accessibility and equity are core to our school’s mission, vision and values.  Congratulations to the school farm for finding new and innovative areas
of inclusion for our students!”
Dr. Jeff Fankhauser, Director of Special Programs & Services

The bed will also be a resource available to all students as a calm down space. Working with the K through 6 students, we have noticed that sometimes students are not able or wanting to participate in the activities of the day for various personal reasons. Knowing that everyone has a tough day, we want to create an intentional space where students can go and know they have access to when they need to sit somewhere calming. Our T shape creates two little spaces for students to sit and be surrounded by plants. Additionally, the inclusion of a sandbox and sensory garden can be helpful calm down tools for students to utilize when they need a break. Having a safe and calm space they can go to to self-regulate or chat with a farmer or teacher is helpful for both staff and students. 

Our fundraising goal is $1000, which is the cost of materials. Download our full prospectus here!

We have already received a contribution of $500 towards our goal, and are seeking donations for the remaining $500.

Please help us create this accessible elevated garden bed for our students!
School just ended for the students and our service term ends July 15th,
so we have a narrow window of time to accomplish this.
Our build date is July 11th.

You can donate HERE.
Please specify Accessible Elevated Garden in the comment box.

Email for more information or questions.

Thank you!

~~ Riley Baker, Lily Cowan, Chad Fisher, Shayna Leibowitz, and Rachel Nottingham

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Whidbey Island Garden Tour on June 25th

Saturday, June 25th is the 25th year anniversary of the Whidbey Island Garden Tour! Over the years, the tour has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to local nonprofits that benefit our environment and community.

This year the South Whidbey School Farm program is a beneficiary of garden tour funding! 

Your purchase of a ticket supports the School Farm program and many other community organizations on Whidbey Island!

Enjoy a day of touring five spectacular gardens while benefiting the School Farm and the community!

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Summer work parties!

Family and community time at the School Farms!

Come volunteer this summer!

Tuesdays at the Elementary School Farm
9:00 am – 12 noon
5476 Maxwelton Rd., Langley
Enjoy a picnic lunch with farm fresh veggies after the work party!

Thursdays at the High School Farms
9:00 am – 12 noon
5675 Maxwelton Rd., Langley
Help harvest for the farm stand!

Families and children welcome!
Come anytime during the morning.
Children must be accompanied by an adult.

If your children, or grandchildren, are missing the fresh veggies from the School Farms –
come on out and spend a few hours on Tuesday mornings
eating garden nibbles and helping us grow the veggies for the fall.  

For more information email

Watch our scarlet runner bean tipis grow!

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Appreciation for our 2021-2022 AmeriCorps service members: Chad, Lily, Rachel, Riley and Shayna!

We are coming to the end of the school year and want to give a big shout out of huge appreciation to our AmeriCorps Food and Farm Educators!

How do we accomplish all the teaching, planting, growing, harvesting, cooking and eating that happens at the School Farm?

It’s because of the service of our AmeriCorps team!

Rachel Nottingham is the Nutrition Educator who teaches students the benefits of cooking and eating the fresh food they are growing. Lily Cowan, Riley Baker, Chad Fisher,and Shayna Leibowitz are our AmeriCorps Farm & Food Educators, and serve in the Healthy Futures Program, teaching children how to grow the healthy veggies they love to eat. Together they work as a team to grow healthy eaters!

From planning, preparing, assisting and leading farm classes to cultivating and planting the farm with the students, and doing all the tasks necessary in between that keep the school fed with nutritious veggies, the AmeriCorps team helps make the school farms program happen. Nine classes each day – together with K-6 Farm Educator Jay Freundlich and Middle School/High School Agriculture Teacher Seth Raabe!

…..Cultivating, growing and harvesting veggies for the students to eat on the spot at the farm, for the school lunches, Whidbey Island Nourishes, and the Snack Program. Managing our compost system and the worm bins, the High School Farm Stand and so much more!

… Leading the culinary classes, preparing and delivering the healthy snacks for the K-6 students, and putting on the Harvest Feast.

Our deepest appreciation and gratitude to Chad, Lily, Rachel, Riley and Shayna!! Thank you for all you are doing for the students and their healthy nutrition and good eating!

AmeriCorps Team needs donations to build an Accessible Elevated Garden Bed –
more info HERE!

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In the News!

The South Whidbey Record has recently published two articles about the School Farm by Kira Erickson! Read about Emily Koller, the new School Farm Manager HERE.

Photo by David Welton

The scarlet runner bean teepees that the 6th graders erected were featured in the Record. Read about Getting Schooled on the Farm HERE!

The South Whidbey Record also published an extensive report by Kira Erickson on agriculture on Whidbey Island: Support grows for Whidbey agriculture — Local farmers seen as key to island food resiliency. The article describes the contribution of the School Farm. Read HERE!

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A cold spring at the School Farm!

Goodness gracious what a cold and rainy spring we are having this year! It may be chilly, but the camas are spectacular…

The cool weather crops are undaunted…

  • Salad Bar Garden
  • Peas
  • Pea flowers
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce and bok choy

And the warm-weather crops are waiting to be planted!

The flowers are attracting the pollinators, as well as children enjoying, and eating, them! Read about the Ring in Spring flower lesson with the second graders HERE.

The willows that the students started in January, and then potted up, were shared with school families to become future native hedges.

The scarlet runner bean tipis were put up and planted!

The acorns generously donated by the Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society have started to sprout!

At the High School, lots of planting for future harvests of beets and carrots. Check out the Farm Stand stocked with available produce every Monday and Friday by 2:30 pm!

And as always, the students are enjoying the garden nibbles!

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Flower Power at the Farm

Reflecting on being halfway through my service term at South Whidbey, I realized how much I have enjoyed my time working with the second grade classes. The second graders comprise the largest number of students of any of the grade levels and it’s always a pleasure having them down at the farm. I wanted to create a lesson plan geared towards this age group during this season at the farm. Thus, Ring in Spring was born.

The goal of the project was for the students to focus on the spirit of gift giving while developing their farming skills by planting flower seeds. Over the course of six weeks beginning in mid- March, the second graders planted calendulas, cosmos, and zinnias. In the midst of planting, they had fun interacting with the seeds and took a closer look at the different and unique seed structures. Our second graders have really honed in their planting skills on the farm with other crops, so they were experts when it came to meticulously planting these small seeds. 

Zinnia seeds
Calendula seeds
Cosmos seeds

Along with their physical planting skills, I wanted the students to have intention with their plants and the booklets they were designing. We had the kids think of someone they would like to give the two flowers to once they were ready to go home with them. In their booklets, they drew the seeds they planted and what the flower will look like once it blooms. This way they could present the entire cycle of the flower to those receiving the gift while the flowers are still a seedling.

Along with the booklets, the second graders designed templates to place on their two 4 inch pots. We took a stroll through the garden to look at all of the ways the land is coming back to life. This helped provide inspiration to the students before drawing. We inspected the flower buds on the apple and pear trees, dreaming of the days where we get to eat the sweet fruits. Smelling the tulips and being awestruck by the varying colors, admiring the daffodils and their subtle differences, and listening closely to the sounds of the first bees of the season passing by all helped stimulate the kids’ senses. The students also had the chance to stamp their bags with the Ring in Spring stamp that Lily Cowen made. They had a blast exploring the ways to use the ink pad and stamping their own bags.

On May 2nd, the 5th and 6th graders on the south campus engaged with the project by packaging up and delivering the paper bags filled with their two flowers with the creative templates on them, Ring in Spring booklets, and flower care instructions to each of the second grade classrooms. Thanks to their hard work the process went smoothly and swiftly!

Ring in Spring gave the second graders a chance to have an extended project they could look forward to when they came to the farm. By the end of the six weeks, they could remember all the flowers they planted and couldn’t wait to take them home. Seeing young students create work they are proud of has been such a fulfilling aspect of this experience. With a total of nearly 100 second graders, we sent 200 flowers into the community. Now that’s flower power!

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Celebrating the Earth all Weeklong

K-6 students celebrated the Earth all week in honor of Earth Day. Farmer Rachel put together a terrific tea party for half of garden class while Farmer Jay and the AmeriCorps team put on scavenger hunts, made seed bombs, gave thanks to the Earth, and placed signs in the Food Forest.

Terrific Tea

Groat (granola oat) bars, farm dip, and earth tea were all on the menu at the Earth Week parties led by Farmer Rachel. With help from 5th and 6th grade garden students, K – 4 students tried new flavors, voted for their favorite treat, and stamped their thumb onto commemorative recycled bucket lids. Recipes for all these delectable delights will be available in the WIN Cookbook later this summer. Stay tuned! 5th and 6th graders got to celebrate on Earth Day with their own tea party that was enjoyed by all!

And the results are in! With 289 total votes, the students favorite treat was the groat bar with over 52% of students choosing it as their favorite! They swear they grew 10 inches after eating them! The farm dip and earth tea were tied at 24% each.

Students used magic beans (scarlet runners) to vote for their favorite treat

Fun on the Farm

Kindergarten students celebrated Earth Week on the farm listening to a story about animals and picking dandelions. They had a blast!

1st graders placed their signs in the Food Forest and celebrated the Earth by thinking about something they’re thankful for in nature. They relaxed in the sun, closed their eyes, and thought of all the animals and plants they love. Here is some of their ideas from when they were making the signs:

2nd graders got their hands dirty making seed bombs. They tried out different ratios of clay and worm castings to make crazy shapes that they embedded seeds into. Once they dry, students will get to plant them in the garden and watch all the flowers grow!

3rd graders did a treasure hunt to enjoy being outside and exercise their brains. ‘Treasures’ were hidden all around the farm with complex clues like “I fly free even though I’m fenced in,” which led them to the beehive nearby. The students found nearly all the treasures, except for the one Farmer Shayna craftily hid near the stairs to the CAFE (Culinary Arts and Farm Education building).

4th graders got creative with a scavenger hunt that asked them to find such things as 3 things that start with the letter P, 4 plants with purple flowers, something with wings, and the prettiest daffodil. Some of the answers got really creative and they loved looking around at all the pretty flowers growing, including these wonderful tulips!

On the farm, 5th and 6th graders have been getting involved fully with planting and seeding. 5th graders planted bok choy, seeded indigo that will be used for dyeing in the fall, and started 8 trays of winter squash that will grow into pumpkins for the Harvest Feast’s pumpkin pies.

6th graders started their circle bed projects and have been making great progress clearing straw mulch from the winter, locating the center of their beds, and marking out the edge. These geometry geniuses will later fertilize these beds, plant them out, and make signs to recognize all their hard work when we enjoy the fruits of their labor next school year. 

“Let’s celebrate our Earth every day!”

Farmer Chad
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