Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Festival!

What a day! Today was the culmination. More than 200 people came to see our garden and celebrate our success. President Donald Eastman of Eckerd College joined us. Parents, schoolkids, Eckerd College students and parents, school board officials. Yesterday the kids had harvested the vegetables we have been growing. Today we celebrated the results. The garden, which we have worked hard to grow, was full.
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Visitors walked through from 6:00 until 6:40 when we finally had to ask them to come inside and join us in our meal. They peered at the watermelons still flowering and growing and peaked at the cucumbers still sprouting on the vine. Inside, everyone had gotten the food prepared and laid out for the guests to eat. Corky Stern, the cafeteria manager had prepared a salad and Eckerd students had made several delicious dishes of food. The line wound through the cafeteria and out the door. Everyone ate.
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The vegetables we grew looked wonderful. We had them on display, where we had not already integrated them into our dishes. While the meal was consumed, we were treated to a delightful rendition of "The Garden Song" sung by the fourth and fifth grade chorus and a wonderful documentary by Kelly Schiller. We have made a beginning.
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Tonight I am so proud of our students. They worked so hard, improvised so well, and stepped up to the challenges of planning and growing a garden, planning and teaching environmental education, loving and bonding with the Lakewood students, and generally proving themselves to being upstanding, hard working, and incredibly dedicated individuals. Each and every one of them put their hearts and souls in to this project and each, in their own way, contributed much to making this project a success. We have grown food, life, and community. I am proud of them. Thank you Peace Patch crew:

Teresa Aiken for her unyielding good humor and infectious smile.
Kaylie Birdsall for her pragmatic good sense and leadership.
Chris Brombacher for his gift with children and quick wit.
Alex Caterino for her loving personality and passion.
Tyler Christie for his cool demeanor and hard work.
Kathy Corradi for her maturity and intelligence.
Andrea Dryden for her responsibility and great insights.
Lowry Gilbert for her hard work and persistent joy.
Erica Heller for her dedication and consistency.
Tommy Leonard for his great attitude and native smarts.
Martha Long for being irrepressibly and irresistibly Martha.
Dylan O'Brien for giving so much and caring so deeply.
Kayla Phinney for being part of the inspiration and living up to it.
Donnelle Piscitelli for her delightful intensity and great work ethic.
Lauren Popper for being so smart and so incredibly laid back.
Andrew Porter for his unusual wisdom and kind heart.
Will Rhame for his good humor and flexibility.
Brooke Saba for taking on so much and learning more than all of us.
Kelly Schiller for her gifted eye and creative dedication.
Sarah Schweig for constantly pushing herself.
Molly Shuman-Goodier for doing more than she needed to.
Jessica Stone for being so sweet and smart and honest.
Kelly Travers for attention to detail and the original garden plan.

You are all an inspiration, tangibly so:

Thanks for getting this garden off the ground and thanks for sharing so much of yourselves this semester!

Harvest Day!!!

The long awaited day has arrived!!!Today the Edible Peace Patch was bustling with energy, from excited students to local news crews. We harvested turnips, tomatoes, broccoli, squash, zucchini, beets, carrots, and about twenty potatoes! Everything is going to be put to use for our Harvest Festival tomorrow, whether in dishes Eckerd Students prepare or on display for everyone to see. Today was the culmination of all the time, sweat, and effort put into the garden by everyone involved, it was miraculous. Finally seeing all the seeds we planted evolve into edible treats was truly amazing. Tomorrow is the Harvest Festival at Lakewood Elementary and we can't wait to celebrate the fruits of our labor with the entire school.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Things are starting to ripen up

It is almost time for the harvest festival.  I can tell everyone at the garden is excited and anticipating the harvest, which will take place tomorrow morning.  We are beginning to take note of what grew well in the garden and what was not successful.  This should aid us in deciding which plants we will choose to plant next year.  There were several plants that we chose to plant that did not do so well.  We think that some of these plants may just need a cooler climate than Florida.  Also some of the plants, especially the watermelons, are just not quite ready.  They just need a little longer to grow.  It is going to be interesting seeing how much we can harvest tomorrow.  I wonder what the root vegetables will look like when we pull them uo tomorrow.  Who knows how big the carrots, sweet potatoes, and potatoes have grown to be.  Today we found one of the coolest things we have found in the garden all year long.  This sun flower pictured below appears to be two flowers that have grown together, forming some sort of siamese sunflower.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Harvest Monday

We returned to the garden after the beautiful weekend and found a bountiful harvest: turnips, zucchini, and squash. We have broccoli, tiny okra and tomatoes as well! One sunflower is taller than me, an excess of 65 inches! The morning shift watered with and after Mrs. Davis' class and staked the remaining three sister. The plants are getting thirstier and the sun hotter so the task of watering thoroughly is more important than ever.
Later in the afternoon with the help of zip ties, we hung the Edible Peace Patch sign on the fence and weeded the rectangle beds. Kaylie is constructing letters out of the broken trellis pieces to spell "peace" in the herb garden. Only the letter "C" still needs to be made. By noon the wind had picked up and the sky became gray and clouded. Mrs. Hartman's class did not come out. By 1:30 rain began to fall, lightly at first then suddenly torrential. Unfortunately, Mrs. Dorsey's class could not come out either. Even though we missed the kids out there, the rain will keep our plants strong during this prolific time. From the looks of it, we can expect a variety of vegetables for our upcoming Harvest Fest!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Staking Stakes and Chasing Parrots

First thing this morning Keishon, Anthony, John, and Cortez came out to the garden along with Ms. Davis who has not had the chance to visit for the past few weeks. The boys showed her all of the plants that were producing vegetables, she was so excited to see the dramatic transformation that occurred over just a couple weeks in Edible Peace Patch. After her tour Ms. Davis went back inside and the kids helped water all of the beds and flowers. It saddens me to think that we only have a handful of opportunities to hang out with these guys again.
Ms. Hendry's class was scheduled to come out the garden but unfortuneately, they never showed up. Today was field-day Friday so they were probably busy playing tug-o-war! Erica, Teresa, Dylan and I spent the rest of our shift watering and placing new stakes, made from broken trellis, into the Three Sisters garden so the beans had something taller to wrap around. I caught sight of some corn silk poking out between the leaves and stalk, maybe some time this summer there will be actual ears on the plants. Also today I had to scare away a green parrot that swooped down to have a chomp on our ripish tomatoes. The Harvest Festival is quickly approaching and by that time we should be able to harvest some carrots, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, potatoes, turnips, radishes, broccoli, and hopefully a few other things. I can't wait for the festival, good food and good times will be had by all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

After a day off in the Peace Patch full of tornado warnings and thunderstorms, things were back to normal today with a pleasant surprise - WE HAVE WATERMELONS! This is the one crop that everyone has been looking forward to having ( especially the kids) and we were afraid nothing was going to come out of them, but thanks to much needed rain, we might have some small ones ready to eat by the end of the year. We spent the morning doing some light watering with Ms. Ash's class and helping Ms. Knight's class start their science fair project which involves planting and growing beans under different conditions. They got to mix their own soil from our compost, leftover soil, and manure. We also spent some time fixing some wind damage from the day before, which included putting the greenhouse back up and re-anchoring our trellises. The afternoon shifts did a lesson on the edible parts of a plant with Ms. Hartman's second grade class ( which included sampling some nasturtiums, spinach, and a pepper!) and checking out the new growth in the garden. It was a really exciting day because it seems like everything is starting really take off and come together in time for the Harvest Festival next week!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Monday!

The final days of the Edible Schoolyard Project are upon us. The sun is getting hotter and the days longer. This means our plants are going into their final stages, and we are happy to report there are zucchini, tomatoes, squash, and now tiny broccolis in the garden, along with the usual greens and nasturtium flowers! There are sunflowers at least 5 feet tall with thick healthy stalks and leaves bigger than our hands. Everything is looking wonderful.
During the morning shift, Mrs. Davis' class did not come out because they had a substitute but Mrs. Deming's class came out and helped water and weed the never-ending grass. They also enjoyed some spinach and peppery nasturtiums. A couple of tomatoes were ready to be eaten, and they were delicious. During the middle shift, we made stakes out of the broken pieces of trellises to anchor down the intact ones. Mrs. Wester's class did not come out either because of further FCAT testing. Finally, in the afternoon shift, Ms. Davis' class made a surprise visit to help us water some more and munch on some our greens. We fixed the Edible Peace Patch Sign with some gorilla glue and tidied up the garden a little bit. The days until the Harvest Fest are fewer and fewer, and the anticipation is growing!

Friday, April 10, 2009

We have zucchini!

It seems like every time I have come to the garden in the past week there is a new plant that is producing vegetables. Today, for the first time I caught a glimpse of the new zucchini and squealed like a little girl.

Certain things are thriving in the Peace Patch like broccoli and squash while others aren’t doing so hot. I am really disappointed that most of the sugar snap peas bit the dust but life goes on. Keishon, Anthony, Cortez, and John from Ms. Davis’ class came out at 9 this morning and we drenched the garden and sampled a few vegetables. We found out that raw potatoes aren’t so tasty! The time we spent with them flew by faster than usual and I was sad to see them go. The rest of our shift was spent weeding and doing follow up watering. I continued the seemingly never ending process of repairing the trellises. It turns out that good old fashioned twine works like a charm to stabilize the joints.
I am excited about the next two weeks when the rest of plants will flower and fruit. The Harvest Festival is coming in just 13 days and I can’t wait to see what we will have to eat!

A couple of short clips from the garden today:

Sunny Thursday

Today was a nice day for the garden. The sun is back out and the wind has quieted down some. We had a class in the morning that worked on identifying common vegetables with what part of the plant we actually eat. After this activity they watered watered watered. Thursday was a day for watering. The plants got a good dose in the morning and in the afternoon. Some of them are looking really nice. In two weeks we should hopefully have some yummy vegetables to harvest. When you dig under the soil the carrots and white potatoes are looking promising. It is a fun surprise for the kids to see whats underneath. In the afternoon another class came out and did some more watering. The overload of radishes were also thinned more. The sun is actually starting to get a bit harsh for some of the plants (sugar peas and herbs). We're all excited for the next two weeks, everything seems to be coming together well!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tasting the fruits (and roots and leaves) of our labor

Its great beginning to really enjoy, and to see the kids be so enthusiastic about trying the harvest. Sometimes it probably seemed to a lot of us that these days would never come, though the joy of the garden came to be about seeing everything grow and in seeing how the children reacted to the garden. The obvious reason for ever growing a garden, that is, for the food reaped, though still the main goal, became more of an extra to the whole garden experience. Now, however, getting to harvest and taste these rewards of the garden brings the project into full circle, for us and the kids.
Today, amongst two classes in the morning, and a class each during the second and third shifts, most everyone who wanted to was able to try loose leaf lettuce, a tomato, nasturtiums, thyme and spinach, which is exploding and was fervently enjoyed by the kids. Third shift even brought in a sweet potato (not from our garden) for Mrs. Robinson's 1st grade class to taste as a preview before our own, which are coming along quite nicely.
In addition to experiencing with the senses these garden delights, the students completed an assignment which gave them knowledge to back up this sensual experience: they learned just what part of the plant they were eating, whether it be the spinach or lettuce leaf, the sweet potato root, the tomato fruit, or the nasturtium flower.
As usual, our fifth graders helped us with sufficient watering and weeding as well.

Getting used to the idea of harvesting, and not just admiring the plants, students today repeatedly asked, where are the sunflower seeds? when looking at the large flowers. Mrs. Robinson's second grade class was also very impressed by the sunflowers' stature, many of which exceeded that of the students.

Here are a couple short videos taken this afternoon:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cold Spell

Today was a very chilly day compared to the beautiful weather we have been experiencing. Unfortunately, it was also very windy again so we haven't been able to fix the trellises that were damaged in the last windy spell we had. We decided that it might just be easier to tie the tops with some strong twine Tipi style for the time being so the plants have something to climb on. Our peas aren't looking very good however but everything else in that bed is thriving. Today we thinned the radishes which are growing like weeds. We also pulled some beets and spinach for Mr. Johnson's class to try. They absolutely loved it and couldn't believe they had grown something so tasty. Some of them hadn't tried spinach or beets before and really enjoyed it. One more healthy vegetable to add to their diet! We also turned the compost which was added to yesterday. We also continued the never ending task of weeding the grass coming up through the mulch. We planted some sweet potatoes, watered the sweet potatoes and green peppers and put them in greenhouse b/c it was really windy. We also collected compost, picked dead heads off of marigolds, identified some bugs, lady bug larva, and two others. There was also a class(Mrs.Jordan) who came out. It was their first time so we did introductions and gave a tour of the garden.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Blowin' in the wind

It was another windy day at the edible peace patch. We fixed the hose leaks, but the leak where it hooks up to the closet faucet still sprays a little. We watered with some of Ms. Davis's class and tried some nasturtiums. The kids loved them.
We found a bunch of ladybugs on the turnips and broccoli! Unfortunately there were a lot of other insects as well, such as ants. Perhaps they are eating some of the leaves? We went through the second lesson (since the class was not around for the last one) with the 3rd grade class. They seemed to be amused by the ladybugs and compost pile, which was filled with fresh rotten peelings and other smelly stuff. Some trellises were also placed around the cucumbers.
The squash and zucchini are definitely producing with some visible baby bumps on some of the flowers. The watermelon beds and gourds are also finally producing flowers. Hopefully they’ll all be ready in a couple of weeks! It looks like another juicy tomato will be ready to munch on in a few days but the snap peas aren’t looking to hot anymore. The sunflowers are holding strong with stems just as thick as the trees and the beans are definitely climbing the sticks placed there earlier.

The flags worked well to make sure the kids knew the vines were still there, even though the trellises aren’t. Though it might have been gloomy, the garden was full of life.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Rain, rain, rain

We have been in a bit of a drought here in Florida, so when I woke up to torrential downpours, I was relieved. Some things are flourishing, watermelons and squash especially. We are still in the process of fixing some trellis that was knocked over during the wind storm last weekend. We picked a few weeds, but thanks to early weeding in the beds, they are almost eliminated from our soil. The eternal battle between border grass and the mulch continues, though.

Its not the same without our mentees helping us in the peace patch, but the work must get done. No matter if it has been one day or ten days, I feel like there is something new and exciting to be discovered in the garden. We are excited to have our lakewood students return out to the schoolyard next week, as the harvest fest nears ever closer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Different Perspective...

It's pretty lonely in the Peace Patch without the children, I must admit. The school seemed so abandoned with no children walking the halls, playing on the playground, or watching us during their gym class. Today I didn't get to hear someone call my name and say hello; I didn't receive any hugs. Days like this just make it seem like a plain and simple garden, not a tool to teach children about healthy eating and sustainability. However, at the same time it was a fairly productive day. We watered everything in the morning, but given the chance of thunderstorms we decided not to in the afternoon. They're calling for thunderstorms for the rest of the week and I must say that I'm scared it will cause more damage like last weekend. We also harvested the first batch of radishes and thinned the newly planted ones, of which there are at least twice the amount then the space can hold. We transplanted the other half of them to the squares next to them that were supposed to hold Kale, which didn't end up making it. The first shift also made a list of what vegetables will need harvesting soon.

Although its only a few days in between when I go out into the garden, every time I go out something drastic has changed. I swear that things are multiplying in size by 3x the size I last saw them at! Our watermelon are now long enough where they're growing over the edge of the bed and onto the ground! The first five minutes of every shift I have I have to take a look around and marvel at all the new growth, and each time it reaffirms how important the garden is. That said, I can't wait for Lakewood Spring Break to be over so we can show them all thats changed!