Fresh Salad from Seed to Bowl

Grade three students have been learning about diversity in the garden. The big idea that they are working toward understanding is: Life Thrives on Diversity. What better way to understand than to look at a variety of salad greens and plant a salad bar garden!

The students started out by sorting a variety of seeds and trying to identify them. We had  big trays of seeds all mixed together. It was fun noticing how different each seed looked in terms of shape size and color. Once the sorting was done, students identified the seeds and started the process of learning to recognize and name the seeds. We had several types of lettuce, kale and spinach seeds.

Of course the purpose of our explorations led us to the garden by way of planting the seeds in pots and watching the sprouts emerge. Once we had our little seedlings to the right size, we planted them in a garden bed and watched, watered and waited. Our salad bar garden was well on it’s way to harvest.

By May, the array of greens were beautiful and ready for harvest. What do you do with a salad bar garden? Make salad! Third graders had fun picking and making bowls of salad right from the garden bed. They were able to add some fresh new peas and we even had some herbed dressing and some fresh pea shoot dressing as an optional topping. It all tastes so much better when we get to do it ourselves from seed to table!

 

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Scarlet Runner Beans = Magic Beans!

Like Jack and his famous adventures with the beanstalk, the School Farm Scarlet Runner beanstalks tell a story that keeps the students engaged from beginning to end. It’s a story that children from kindergarten to grade 6 take an active part in creating and a key part of our School Farm curriculum. The bean teepees are a clear and much loved example of the cycles that inform us of the seasons and the activities that mark our year at the School Farm.

Each spring the big bamboo poles are secured into the circular garden beds in the form of a tall teepee. This spring the sixth graders did a fantastic job of digging the holes and securing the tall bamboo poles in the ground. Prior to the bean teepee construction, fifth graders have set out the circular beds using geometry. Click HERE to see how they created a compass and measured the beds.

Beans are planted around the base of each pole by the students. When school begins in September the teepees are a mass of green with some red flowers and many bean pods hanging from the vines. Excited feet run to the teepees and inside go the students. How many can fit inside? Surprisingly, quite a few! Click Here to see!

As autumn progresses and the bean pods mature and begin to dry out, the once bright pink beans turn a dark purple and black inside. Kindergarten and first grade students worked on collecting the beans from the dried pods. You can see the third graders working on taking the teepees down last fall HERE.

The students especially love collecting the beans from the dried pods. During the cold winter  months we dissect the beans and learn about seed anatomy. The Scarlet Runner beans are a particularly good specimen for studying all the parts of a seed. Students get a good idea of how a seed sprouts and grows and how the cotyledon feeds the sprouting seed until it is strong enough to live on its own.

This year we’ve added a new dimension to our bean saving efforts. Taco Tuesdays have been a wildly successful way for the School Farm to use the Scarlet Runner beans. The freshly cooked beans are made into frijoles and add a delicious base to our home made masa harina tacos. Students were first introduced to freshly made tacos in their culinary arts lessons. Their enthusiasm was our inspiration for Taco Tuesdays! Click HERE to see the students in culinary class making the tacos. Don’t miss our final fundraiser for the year on June 1st and enjoy Scarlet Runner bean frijoles along with other garden fresh toppings. Click HERE for details.

Posted in Children in the garden, Lessons, Updates from the garden!

Growing and learning at the High School gardens!

Only a year ago, the front garden had been just created. Already this year, beds have been cleared, fertilized, mulched and planted for spring, with students learning every step of the process.

The High School and Middle Schoolers have planted peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes, beets, turnips, kale, bok choi, tsa tsoi (in photo), onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts, collards, and flowers. A little bit of everything is going on! Students are eating and sharing the produce, as well as taking home spring veggies and plant starts.

In the back garden, our new hoophouse is already producing radishes, lettuce, kale and bok choi with beets, carrots and onions on the way.

The lush cover crop in the field was tilled and additional compost spread. Potatoes, garlic, asparagus, rhubarb and flowers have been planted. We’re also expanding the field to include an orchard.

Last but not least, the storage shed is going up!

Things are really shaping up nicely as we renovate and expand the back area. We’ll be planting the fall crops soon. Work parties this summer will be Thursday mornings from 10 am – 12 noon followed by picnic lunch.

Our appreciation to the South Whidbey Schools Foundation
and the Whidbey Island Garden Tour for their funding support!

Posted in High School Garden, Updates from the garden!

Year-end School Farm Fundraiser – Frijole Friday!

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Help support the
School Farm and Culinary programs!

Frijole Friday is on Friday, June 1st at the
Langley Methodist Church Fellowship Hall.
301 Anthes Ave., Langley.

Click HERE for more details on
this delicious garden fresh taco dinner
to help fund the farm.

Posted in Culinary, Events, Funding support, Updates from the garden!

Circles, Trellises and Rows

Spring time at the School Farm is bursting with activity and growth. Each class K-6 contributes to the growing and structure of the School Farm. Thanks to their participation and energy our farm is a growing concern!!

Grade three students worked on their math skills recently by measuring the garden beds and finding both the area and the perimeter of those beds. They worked in groups and practiced many skills including cooperation, communication, questioning, as well as measuring, multiplying and adding. They reviewed math skills that will help them on the upcoming state tests.

We are getting ready to plant our scarlet runner beans soon. That means that the circle beds that make the bean teepees need to be cleaned up and ready for planting and staking. Fifth graders worked hard to get the beds ready. Not only did they edge and clean up the beds, they had to calculate the radius of a circle by measuring out 6 feet from the center of each circle bed. We used metal stakes and flexible rope as a compass and knotted the 6 and 3 foot marks to measure the beds.

The fourth grade designers and engineers became builders this week. They worked in groups to build trellises for the peas they planted in late March. They’ve learned that the peas have tendrils that climb and cling. They met the challenges and managed to make structures that will support the peas growth.

Of course, all of these endeavors lead to eating the delicious fresh food that keep everyone happy, healthy and enthusiastic! With great appreciation for our students and their participation in the School Farm program!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Spring Happenings at the School Farm!

What an extraordinary spring we’re having!

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Growing and learning at the Farm!
Always the delightful signs of spring, the tulips and daffodils that the fourth graders planted are blooming at the Farm, offering lots of opportunity to study flowers and enjoy beauty. Peas are everywhere! Glorious lettuce, spinach and kale in the hoophouse are happy as can be, and help teach plant structure and diversity. We now have lots of fresh greens for garden tacos!

Taco Tuesday!
Our second Taco Tuesday was another rousing success! Big thanks to all the volunteers and students who helped make it happen! The next Taco Tuesday is May 8th, from 5 – 7 pm at the Elementary School. Join us for the delicious feast, and please invite your family, friends and neighbors. RSVP HERE!

Culinary program!
We are thrilled to have been able to move the culinary classroom to the old Family Resource Center portable. Thank you South Whidbey School District for providing this facility! We have named the building the CAFE, acronym for Culinary Arts and Farm Education. The first lesson in the Cafe was stir-fry. The students selected and prepped kale, bokchoi and carrots from the Farm, cooked them up, and made Nicole’s special sauce. It was a hit! When are we having this for lunch, they asked!

Earth Day!
Thank you powers that be! On April 19th, after days of rain, the sun came out for our K – 4 celebration of Earth Day. Hundreds of children streamed down to the farm and divided into engaging activities from farming and science to culinary to arts and crafts.

 

After their activity, the students enjoyed two delicious soups made from farm veggies: potato soup, and veggie soup. They loved both of them! They made garden tacos from lettuce, spinach, arugula, sorrel and kale leaves, kale flowers and pea shoots, topped with pea shoot pesto or a magic bean and cheese sauce. Yum!

The Magic of Our Water!
The Middle Schoolers, grades 5 – 8, were treated to a special Earth Day “The Magic of Our Water” show with Steffan Soule. Thank you to the South Whidbey Schools Foundation for their support!

The students were eager to participate on stage with Steffan as he demonstrated through amazing magic tricks how we are connected to each other and the natural world, the flow of water through our aquifers and how our actions affect its purity, principles of a balanced ecosystem, and the rings of interconnection: You, Water (the environment), Our Commitment, Conservation, Preservation, Understanding. Inspiring!

Yes, it’s been a magical and majestic spring!

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Posted in Children in the garden, Culinary, Earth Day, Events, Taco Tuesday, Updates from the garden!

The Garden is a Habitat

Students at the School Farm have a specific big idea that they work on during the year. Kindergarten and grade one students focus on the idea that The Garden is a Habitat. Of course the big ideas overlap and connect as the students progress through the grades.

What starts out as a lesson in planting or digging soon turns into a fascination with what’s living in the soil: earthworms, grubs, wireworms, centipedes, spiders, and ladybugs to name a few.

Heads turned toward the ground often take a minute to look up when we hear bird song or the distinctive cry of eagles flying overhead. Excited voices quiet down around the junco nest that appears each year near the big orange poppy.

We take the time to learn about the insects and worms that build our soil. We nurture our in-ground worm bins with kitchen scraps from the lunchroom and always have a good supply of worm castings to enrich our garden beds. Students quickly learn that the earthworms are beneficial to our garden, and that wireworms are pests that we take out of the soil.

The garden is a wonderful living laboratory that contains endless cycles of life. Piles of corn stalks, squash vines, and leaves sit outside the garden gate in our habitat area and create habitat for insects. Students build little stacks of rocks, sticks, and wood in hopes of making shelter for beneficial garden pollinators. Mason bee houses that students made from tin cans and bamboo last year, now contain mason bee eggs that will hatch out when the weather warms providing more pollinators for our garden.

Sometimes, we even have visitors from the woods behind the garden fence come and delight our nature loving scientists.

 

Posted in Children in the garden, Lessons, Updates from the garden!