Welcome! This blog follows the building, cultivating, and harvesting of the Lakewood Elementary schoolyard garden in St. Petersburg, Florida. Since January 2009, the Edible Peace Patch Project has been developing innovative community-oriented food system and nutrition educational programs in south St. Petersburg, Florida. Lakewood Elementary is the 1st school to participate in our Garden Education Program!
Today was a great garden day. The morning ran well, with a continuation of the soil activities. The kids seemed a little unruly today, but it could just be the Friday air. This was only my second time working with the kids. I can only work one day a week due to an overloaded schedule for my final semester here at Eckerd. However, I spend a lot of time working with a team to create the lessons that will be taught during the week. Today I realized that it is one thing to sit in the library and come up with what will be done, decide what should be covered etc. and another one entirely to go out in the garden and actually teach. Through my experience today I had a strange feeling looking around and noticing that the kids pay very little attention to the worksheet which has been drawn up for them. They are far more interested in being outside than another piece of paper put in front of them. Additionally, they seemed desperate for a more hands-on lesson, rather than watching us do something which is cool and educational, but too hard for them to do themselves. I'm struggling for answers to this conundrum. The garden is meant to be a place where science education can interlink with the local outside environment; inspiring the kids to think critically and become more aware of the natural world around them. The kids are too young to do certain things themselves as well as the fact that we don't have enough supplies for every child to get to do it alone. I'm thinking we need to start doing more movement activities (games to describe soil composition, bee pollination etc.) as well as larger hands on projects such as weeding around the beds, each child getting to plant a bean plant in a pot and watch it grow. It is a hard task to find a way to teach science within a garden setting in 25 minutes, a real challenge. A girl whose father works for the school came out to chat with me while I was finishing up this afternoon and got me thinking about how important simply doing small tasks in the garden together can be for the kids. She was SO excited to use the hose and water with me. She chatted away about how plants "dance" when you water them. THAT is what we're missing. It was wonderful. Moments like that I think are almost impossible in our very rushed activities. Yes, science standards are extremely important and we have a rare opportunity to teach in a growing outside environment. But, I think we are missing some of the meaningful things that the garden truly has to offer. I would like to find more of a balance between the standards and making the garden an experience in itself.
Following the morning shift, I had to get to class for an hour, but came back for an afternoon of garden love. There is nothing I love more than playing in the dirt and green for a few hours in the sunshine. The tomatoes were trellised, carrots which never sprouted re-planted, and broccoli re-planted in the cauliflower bed which never grew. I also found mysterious beautiful little collard green sprouts growing in the tomato bed. They were moved to where the broccoli never came up/wasn't planted. Generally, the garden looks a little disheveled at the moment, with plants coming up in all kinds of strange ways and combination's. But its getting better with every bit of work that goes into it. Here are some more pictures from the day