After the Harvest

The busy autumn classes full of fresh produce and sunshine have moved with definite progression into cold nights, cool days and waning production in the garden, signaling the time to put the garden to bed.  The students have been working over the past few weeks to glean the last of the tomatoes and cucumbers from the dying vines and then pulling them up and cleaning the beds and planting cover crop so that the garden is ready for spring planting.

The third graders have successfully harvested the potatoes that they planted last spring and we’re all anticipating the delicious mashed potatoes that will be prepared and served at the Harvest Feast on November 16th in the Elementary School Cafeteria. After the harvest the students smoothed the soil and mulched the beds with straw to ready them for planting peas in the spring.

Grade one students have rolled up their sleeves and helped pull out lettuce, turnips, and weeds.  They’ve found a fascinating array of worms and bugs in the soil as they worked, plus they took the time to notice the roots of the plants they were pulling out to see if they could find the ‘longest’ root of the day.

The cove beds have been replanted with cover crop and sprinkled with freshly sifted compost and made ready by the second graders for spring planting.  Before planting the cover crop, the students sorted the seeds and noticed the different seeds in the cover crop mix.

Spring bulbs of garlic, tulip, and camas will grace the garden next spring thanks to the fourth graders.

Grade five and six students have prepared the circle beds for spring by planting a blanket of cover crop on the garden beds.  They have shown their understanding and competence by taking care of all tasks related to readying the garden beds for winter including, harvesting, pulling out plants, cultivating the soil, and raking it smooth.

Growing and eating fresh food can almost seem magical when seen through the eyes of the students.  Pulling fresh carrots out of the soil never ceases to delight, munching on a kale leaf and filling it with flowers, ground cherries, and perhaps some cucumbers to make a garden taco becomes the most delicious treat.  All the children find a place in the garden and that’s a place we all want to be.

Posted in Lessons, Updates from the garden!

Enjoy a Thanksgiving feast from the Farm!

Harvest feast 1nov17 FINAL copy 2

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Bring us your Halloween pumpkins!

Decomposing pumpkins 2017 copy

Last year’s class link HERE

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Now Hiring 2018 School Farm Apprentices!

Logo SW School Farm_blackWe are hiring School Farm Apprentices for the 2018 season!

Click HERE for the job description.

Posted in Grow Whidbey apprentices

A very tasty Taste Washington Day!

Lots of delicious food on Taste Washington Day at the South Whidbey Middle School! Students in Susan Milan’s Health and Wellness Elective prepared tasty dishes from produce grown in the School Farm and High School Garden, and served it to their fellow classmates on Thursday, Oct. 12th, during the lunch period. There were a lot of enthusiastic eaters!

The sampling was available to all students free of charge, and included marinated beans, pasta with sungold tomato sauce, kale chips, homemade potato chips, zucchini tater tots, zucchini bread and carrot cake. All made by 7th and 8th graders from organic fresh-picked school produce — 74 pounds of tomatoes, potatoes, kale, zucchini, carrots, green beans, basil, onions, arugula, basil, spinach, cucumbers, peppers and garlic!

Nicole Whittington, culinary teacher, and the Heath and Wellness culinary classes also made pestos from basil, kale, spinach and arugula which were eagerly sampled with crudites.

Here’s a slideshow of the feast.

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The cafeteria was festooned with posters drawn by the students in Susan Milan’s and Lisa Davis’ classes celebrating local produce and healthy eating.

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In just a half hour lunch period, over 200 servings had been dished out and the table was bare. Lots of great eating, happy cooks, delighted farmers and well-fed students!

On Thursday, Oct. 4th, the cafeteria celebrated Taste Washington Day with school-grown produce. Read their report about it HERE. Since the School Farms deliver in season to the cafeterias, every day is Taste Washington Day for our school lunches.

Posted in Events, Taste Washington Day

Autumn Highlights at the School Farm

It’s been a wonderfuly busy and exciting opening to the new school year with all classes from kindergarten to grade six coming to the School Farm. Each class has walked into the garden with great enthusiasm for all the changes they can see in the garden since they left in June, and of course, for all the fresh garden nibbles available. Many feet have quickly taken off to explore the scarlet runner bean teepees!  Two tall green teepees with room to sit and eat a fresh garden nibble with a friend or open a bean pod and find magic black and purple beans inside.

Grade one students have been noticing which part of the plants they eat: roots, stems, flowers, seeds.  We’ve walked through the garden and collected a rainbow array of plants to eat and then noticed which part we’re eating. Rainbow colors, and delicious crunching were the order of the day. The carrot beds are also ready and waiting for the children to pull fresh orange goodness out of the ground to munch, which they happily do.

The cove beds are being tended by our grade two students again this year.  The buckwheat cover crop planted in June has matured and grown into a thick crop that will decompose over the winter and build the soil for planting in the spring.  The students have been working on chopping up the buckwheat and turning it into the cove beds.

All classes have taken part in remembering the season in the garden by noticing what the plants are busy doing, particularly the flowers.  Grades one, two and three have walked around the garden noticing all the flowers still in bloom.  They’ve had the chance to draw their favorites and then use the flower petals to color in their drawings.  Happy exclamations and some very fun drawings were taken home by the students.



Taking a close look at flowers, finding seeds.


Sorting seeds found in the garden.


A variety of plants are producing seeds now and the students have taken the opportunity to explore the garden in search of seeds hiding in the dead looking flowers. They were successful in their search and many patient minutes were spent examining the seeds with magnifying glasses and then sorting and saving the seeds. Look for student designed seed packets to come home soon.

Studying plant reproduction is a topic that fits nicely into the autumn garden landscape, along with seed collecting, and grades five and six students had the opportunity to dissect flowers and draw and label all the parts.

Grade three students have completed the cycle of growing and harvesting by finally opening the dry beans they planed last spring.  They tirelessly opened and sorted the Rockwell and Orca beans into big bowls.

Grade 5 and 6 science classes have used the garden as their science laboratory this fall.  They’ve done experiments in Buoyancy to find out if weight affects buoyancy.  Some of their findings were surprising, and everyone seemed to enjoy the process of finding out which vegetable would float and thinking about why a 1 ounce cherry tomatoes sinks while a 8 pound pumpkin floats!

There is no shortage of things to do in the garden. One student exclaimed, ‘This is my dream place!’ That’s a vote of confidence that tells us the students feel like the garden is theirs and they’re right.  Plenty to do and plenty to eat, what could be better?

Posted in Lessons, Updates from the garden!

Summer work for fall harvest at the School Farm

We’ve been working hard this summer so that the farm will be bursting with veggies for the children when they return to school. We need to grow enough not only deliver to the school cafeterias, but also for garden nibbles for the students to pick fresh during their classes. There are over 1000 student visits/month with grades K-6!  Plus we are delivering to the culinary classes, and donating to Whidbey Island Nourishes. This summer we also grew in two new gardens – the High School Garden and the Snack Garden at the Elementary School, as well as continued growing in the Langley Middle School Garden.

When the students return they will be eating tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, kale, spinach, carrots, bok choi, beans, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, peppers, basil, zucchini, winter squash, potatoes, ground cherries, popcorn, field pea shoots and beets.

Planting… After school gets out and the spring crops are done, we flip the garden beds to fall crops. Thanks to a generous donation from Johnny’s Seeds we now have a Jang seeder which helped the planting go faster!


and eating!


Work parties…

Our ace youth gardeners from the weekly Tuesday morning work party cleared out this bed in seven minutes!

Families from Calvary Church came to the farm twice over the summer to help. First to pull out the salad bar garden, and then to pull out peas and kale.

And students in Michael Ferber’s International Development and Sustainability class at Au Sable weeded the Second Grade native fence line as well as many other beds.

Last but not least, we watched the scarlet runner bean teepee grow, and grow, and grow…

The garden is ready for school to begin and the children to start learning and eating. Much appreciation to all who helped this summer!

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Posted in Updates from the garden!