Fall learning on the Farm

The First Grade classes began by exploring soil, from rocks to sand to clay to organic matter. They collected loose rocks from around the farm and sorted them by size, shape and color. Our glacial till is a great example of glaciers crushing rocks to make our soil. The children created soil from the building blocks of sand (tiny rocks!) and clay (even tinier crushed rock particles) and compost. They made compost from garden debris, leaves and grass clippings. At season’s end, they sorted the five different kinds of cover crops, and planted them. And last but not least, was the class with the decomposing pumpkins!

The Second Grade classes created a new garden cove on the north side of the farm, learning about soil by first turning over the summer cover crop. The beds were divided into four sections: winter cover crops planted in native soil, and soil with compost added. Another section was mulched with hay, leaves and grass clippings, and the last one just left alone. Already they are seeing differences in cover crop growth! Then they built a wondrous fence from natural materials by stacking and weaving. The last class was with the decomposing pumpkins!

A highlight of the fall for the Third Graders was digging up the Makah Ozette potatoes they had planted last spring as Second Graders in a bed that they had prepared with cover crops and compost. The results were spectacular! And the potatoes delicious – they are featured at the Elementary School Thanksgiving feast. After harvesting, the bed was planted with winter cover crops. Continuing the exploration of seeds, the students took down the scarlet runner bean tipi, as well as the pole beans in the veggie tunnel and along the north fence.

The Fourth Grade classes deepened their understanding of plant structures by helping to harvest the many different vegetables growing in the pizza and taco gardens, and the potato compost bins, and drawing the different ways the plants grow. The highlight of the fall was harvesting the pumpkins and squash, which will be served at the Elementary School Thanksgiving feast. All the squash were weighed and we grew a grand total of 670 lbs of pumpkins, butternut, spaghetti, delicata, sweet dumpling and hubbard squash! The students then planted cover crops in the squash beds they harvested.

To start the fall season, the Fifth Graders connected with the peas they had planted last year… now seeds! The scarlet runner bean tipi was definitely the hit of the fall, and Pam Muncey’s class couldn’t resist seeing if they could all fit inside. See the YouTube video HERE! The Fifth Grade classes widened their connection to the farm through their study of ecosystems and habitats. As if on cue, a douglas squirrel captivated the students by scampering from its forest habitat to gather sunflower seeds for its winter food… for each of the four fifth grade classes! The students delved into the insects and habitats on the farm, from pollinating plants to spiders, wireworms, nitrogen fixing bacteria on beans, and compost decomposers. They wrapped up the season with prepping beds and planting winter cover crops.

veggie creation_0547And of course, every class ended with eating the fresh picked carrots, broccoli, kale (and beloved broccoli and kale flowers), cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, lemon sorrel, anise hyssop, turnips, beans, basil, flax seeds, bok choi, spinach, and zucchini.  The students also loved to make garden nibbles, garden pizzas and garden tacos and other veggie creation!

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