May and June growing, eating and learning

Pardon the late summer posting of this spring news!

The School Farm is bursting with spring growth thanks to the warmer temperatures and sunny skies. Greens such as kale, spinach, bok choi, and lots of different kinds of  lettuce are being harvested regularly for use in school lunches as well as providing classes from the Elementary School plenty of garden nibbles and garden tacos after our lessons.

All the students have been helping the garden grow by planting, watering, mulching and weeding the garden beds. Grade one and two students have planted some of the lettuce and salad greens that we’re harvesting now.

They have also observed the hearty kale plants go through their final stage of growth. The kale has been our mainstay for garden nibbles providing us with leaves all through the fall and winter, and with sweet flowers to munch in the spring. Students had fun looking at the aphids that took over some of the the kale stalks this month. They observed them through the field microscopes and took the time to draw them in detail. Finally, students pulled up the whole plant to make way for new plantings in the kale beds. Many of the students noticed that the kale plants were taller than them!

Grade two students have a new section of garden space near the north gate of the garden that we call ‘the cove’. New starts and seeds of radish, lettuce, spinach and some bright sunflower were planted by the students and are now growing very nicely.

Along with the grade one and two students, grade three’s have looked at seeds, planted starts in pots and nestled the little starts into the garden beds where they are growing into a salad garden of jeweled colors showing off red and green lettuce, purple kale and deep green spinach. Spicy mustard greens and swiss chard can also be found in the salad bar bed and the students took bowls and gathered up the tender greens to make little salads that they happily ate with some pea shoot pesto dressing. Little squash seeds were also planted in small pots for future planting in the garden beds. Grade threes will harvest the squash they planted this spring next fall when they are in fourth grade.

The engineers and designers in grade four have been working in groups to design trellis’s for the peas. Their project started long before planting and many designs were discussed, sketched and modeled before the trellis’s were built in the garden. With some great ideas in mind for trellises, the students then planted the peas. Once they had sprouted, it was time to construct the trellis designs using bamboo poles and heavy twine. The peas grew steadily up the trellises and resulted in delicious peas in June!

Great energy and thought was put forth by the grade five students as they plotted out eight circular beds in the new section of the garden. Using a center pole and six foot rope as a compass students figured out how to plot the circle and make a 3 food wide raised bed. Motivation was high as students know that the circular beds will hold the plantings for a pizza garden and a much loved bean teepee. Stay tuned for late summer photos of the bean teepee and pizza gardens!

The students have continued with their group projects of growing pea shoots, radishes, and logging the weather on a daily basis. They have noticed some of the variables that the weather has had on the growth of their radishes and most excitedly, grown many pounds of pea shoots! They’ve eaten the vitamin packed greens for snacks and also learned how to make pesto using the shoots.

On June 2nd the grade five students offered fresh green salad and pea shoot pesto at the Orca Picnic. The families attending also visited the School Farm. Parents were delighted to have their children share their favorite veggies, how to grow them, harvest them and eat garden tacos. Everyone descended upon the strawberries, very juicy and delicious!

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