January 2017 saw the first students making forays into the winter garden with exclamations of ‘The bean teepees are gone!’, ‘The garden looks empty.’ Then on closer examination, they found wiggling worms in the soil and a world of wonder in the seemingly empty garden scape.
Saving worms from cover crop chopping
Digging a trench for compost
Mulching the garden beds.
They noticed that the cover crops they planted in the autumn have created a bed of green on the garden beds and the pumpkins they placed in November have decomposed at the base of the fruit trees in the orchard.
Finding the different types of cover crop in the garden beds
During garden class time the students are learning that winter time is all about letting the garden rest and building the soil through cover cropping and mulching the garden beds that provide the much loved vegetables that we eat throughout the year.
Sharing in the Garden Circle
Grade Two students rolled up their sleeves and flipped the cover crops they planted this fall in their new little cove garden. We said a thank you to the cover crop before flipping it into the soil and noted that the green growth that we planted will now decompose and invite worms and micro organisms to feed and build the soil.
SWA students flipping cover crops.
Looking for a leaf of hearty kale to nibble.
Picking kale to munch.
In anticipation of spring planting, the Grade One and Grade Two students have planted peas in clear plastic trays that have been placed in light boxes in the hallways at the Elementary School. Students can watch as the peas germinate and sprout inside and then continue the cycle by planting the little plants in the garden when the soil warms up.
Planting peas to watch them grow
Students found the tall bamboo poles that made the bean teepees with dried vines and bean pods still attached. Piles of dry beans, ready for pulling from the vines were pulled, opened and sorted into big bowls of purple and black scarlet runner beans, black and white orca beans and brown and white rockwell beans. Students from SWA, and grades two, three and five participated in opening the magic beans and sorting them into type. We took the dried vines and empty pods to the compost bin. Due to the enthusiastic students, we were able to get our entire crop of dry beans ready for storage and potential cooking.
Finally the energetic Grade Three students took buckets and shovels to move a big pile of leaves to make way for the load of rich compost that was delivered last week outside the western side of the garden fence.
Moving the pile of leaves. Many hands make light work.
In the greenhouse opening and sorting beans.
Opening the black and white orca beans.
The garden may look empty, however it’s just a moment in time as we prepare for spring planting. The students are learning to care for the land and grow food by participating in activities that honor the rhythm of the seasons all year long.
As we sing in our garden song:
It’s all in the rhythm of the earth…
It’s all in the rhythm of the sun…
It’s all in the rhythm of the moon…
It’s all in the rhythm of rain…
It’s all in the rhythm of our heart…