Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Beet Ya To The Garden!

The goal of today was to teach our Lakewood Elementary children about different types of soil. We set up a hands-on activity that allowed students to touch sand, silt, and clay in tin pans. The children loved seeing their new Eckerd friends and getting into the same groups they were assigned from last week. Once we were arranged in our fun groups we played some "get to know ya" games by having the children remind us big college kids the rules of the garden and their favorite veggies! Next, the students used their five senses to discribe what each soil feels like. One little boy said " I love the beach! I know that this sand must be from St.Pete beach!." We also let the youngsters use their five senses to explore the beds as well (pictured below).

After the children told me how the soil smelled, looked, and tasted ( just kidding!), they were ready to have a soil race! The race involved all of the students: three students poured water over saran wrapped cups topped with either sand, silt, or clay, while the other three observed which soil type let water through the fastest. The kids were really excited to see which type of soil would escape the cup first!

Once the races were finished my group really wanted to taste some of the dill plant (pictured above, right). As we were heading over, Sarah H. noticed that a beet was ready to be harvested. The children were really excited to see it come out of the ground! The kids were eager to eat the beet right away, but I assured them they would enjoy it in the wellness kitchen sometime soon!

Until next time,
-Saige Liparulo

Friday, February 25, 2011

Seed Germination!

This week we focused our lesson on seed germination and had each class split into their normal groups in order to plant and learn about seeds! We planted one cup of corn and one cup of beans per group. This was great because for some of the students it was their first time planting! They were instructed to bring the seeds back to their classroom and our little garden experts know to keep the plant by the sunlight and water them a little bit everyday. Our hopes are that these plants will do well enough so we can transplant them into the garden once they grow!

This is my first time taking part of a garden for this long of a period of time and every time I go out to Lakewood I am AMAZED at how much everything has grown in just a few weeks time! Our corn and spinach are flourishing and I am taken aback when I see how much the spinach has grown in one week - the leaves are now the size of the kids palms!
One of the best parts about being a part of the EDIBLE garden is just that...the kids LOVE to eat things! Today we tried the Dill...which, according to the Lakewood gardners, apparently tastes nothing like pickles.... :) and kale which they seemed to enjoy more. Sarah has been cooking up some delicious Kale chips and the kids are absolutely loving them!

This was a great week full of sunshine and seed education! I'm excited for next week when we'll be focusing more on different types of soil and their composition!

Jamie P.
An Independent Study Lady

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I couldn't tell you how many times I've heard recently, "it smells so good in here" by those walking by the wellness kitchen. Which must be one of the reasons why even more teachers have signed up and each class that has cooked has kept their spot for the next eleven weeks. It warms my heart to watch kids actually enjoy food that is going to keep diseases at bay and doctors away. They have all been so brave and adventurous when they try these unfamiliar greens. All of the teachers have been encouraging and helpful, one especially so when she wrote me saying,
"Sarah- WOW! My children loved cooking with you. Watching their expressions as they tasted the kale was priceless. When W asked if he could drink the juice in the bowl I knew you had him hooked on greens! Thank you so very much! I am hoping you are up for another cooking experience soon."
The germination lesson has gone really well. The kids are all excited to see how their beans and corn will grow. I also like the way it helps teach responsibility. Telling my group that they were responsible for their cup made them take even more ownership. And the fact that it is a group effort teaches them how to work together harmoniously.
Spending time with our students at Lakewood starts my day off in the right direction!
(kind of like our gardens compass)
Take Care,
Sarah Tucker

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The day in the garden started out so foggy, we could barely see the beds across the field! But as the kids trickled out of their classrooms, the sun came out, burned away the fog, and gave us lots of sunshine for the rest of the afternoon. This week's lesson focused on introducing the kids to the idea of seed germination, and how plants develop in their earliest stages. To do this, we are using corn baby corn
and bean seeds. On Wednesdays, we have kindergarden, first and second grades, so we kept the lesson plan age-appropriate by first planting seeds in cups (with their help of course), and then talking about what parts of the plant we can see above and below the ground. To help the kids understand this concept, we brought them over to the edge of the field, and showed them what the roots of sedge grass look like. GARDEN ENEMY #1= SEDGEThe kids were SO enthusiastic about seeing us pull sedge out of the ground, we started thinking we should recruit them to help weed.......... just kidding!
It was great to see how excited the kids were about taking their planted seeds back to the classroom. They were all very careful about handling the cups, and very aware of the special delicacy that this process involves. Hopefully this will be reflected in the height of their plants when they bring them back to the garden next week! Can't wait to see how they've grown!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just Keep Growing!

Being as this is my first time on the blog since the students have come back out this semester, I would like to say it feels great to be teaching again! Throughout the week, I have two 2nd grade classes and one 3rd grade class; all new faces, yet still brimming with enthusiasm about the garden. This week we are incorporating last weeks lesson of the need of sun, water, and soil for growth into actually putting it all into action. My garden "scientists" are performing the "experiment" of what will happen when you combine all of these factors to grow corn and bean seeds. They were able to take them into the classroom when lessons were done so that they can observe the growth process through the clear cups. In a few weeks time, they will bring their seedlings back out of their classrooms to put out into the 3 Sisters Garden in the Patch. Many of my students are veterans out in the garden, so showing them anything that may be new after the long winter break from the garden has been exciting! They were all very excited about the native plants row, all the sunflowers that are starting to pop up, the climbing trellises over many of the beds, the expanded pineapple rows, and much more. As usual, we had to take a taste test, so while they drew plants and we discussed the different parts (i.e. leaves, stems, buds, roots, etc.), we were able to munch away on sweet peas and the last of the broccoli. Besides the teaching, there is a lot of other things going on in the garden as well. The painting of the beds is now complete, the sedge war continues on with more mulch to cover it and hands to pull it, and weeds are now match against our volunteers. Between the IS ladies, our grad student, and our professor, the planning never stops and our volunteers really give us the ability to make it all come together and work. I am so excited to see how things progress this semester. I've been on the project since August, so this is my first time in the garden is the spring and it's all growing so fast!

Until next time!
Katie Schaefer
Independent Study

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunny Florida Monday!

It was another cool and beautiful monday morning at the patch! The ground was damp, the plants were moist and happy, and the sun was just starting to warm up as the independent study students briefed the volunteers on the weeks lesson plan. Young minds will start to stretch as we get the kids planting their own seeds and thinking about how plants grow and get their food.

As the morning started to heat up, a strange new visitor appeared next to one of the beds...

This harmless orange slime mould, which finds moist decaying wood to be delicious, sparked interest with the children as they described it as "cheese," among other things. However, in the garden we take every opportunity to teach we can get, and this mould created interest which led to some interesting discussion on how all life forms need to "eat."

Things are really starting to brighten up as the beds are almost completely painted, and the vegetables seem to be responding to all the attention with remarkable growth.

The spinach is doing incredibly well, having almost doubled in size since last week.

With a little free time between classes, Erin finds her "peace of the patch" next to the collard greens with a paintbrush. A little color really has gone a long way in the garden.

After Christina P. lead a very exciting game of "tomato tomato cucumber" (a spinoff of duck duck goose), she makes use of her time by giving the sunflowers a little love.

All in all, it was a really great start to the week. The kids were very excited to get their hands dirty and the peace was spread throughout.

All Good Medicine.
Max Shindler,
Student Volunteer

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sun, Fun, and Friday!

Today we had probably the calmest two classes I have ever seen at the garden. The first class I had last semester, and they've since changed teachers. Two of my kids I worked with personally previously it was wonderful to be able to work with them again. They are now third graders, and so big! At first I didn't even recognize one of them! They were so excited to be able to see the garden, and kept asking "do we have any beans, squash, radishes?" all plants they had grown previously. They also wanted to know where their plants from last year were. I had to explain that we harvest all the vegetables at the end of each growing season and use them in the harvest festival. I asked them if they came to the harvest festival and both of them shook their heads no, so hopefully they will this year! This class has been learning about the different parts of a plant: roots, stem, leaves, and flowers, so instead of asking them to draw what a plant needs, I had them draw the different parts of the plant and explain to me why each part is important. They were so eager to tell me everything they had learned, I was so excited!

The second class we had this afternoon was a class of kindergartners. They had never been out to the garden and were so excited to be in it they couldn't help but break out into a run once in awhile to get to the next bed. We went over the rules several times, but I think it might be best with the younger classes to start off each week with the rules so they have a solid reminder. For the kindergartners I spent most of the time showing them everything in the garden from the sunflowers to the beets to the aloe. I also let them taste a couple of different things including dill, collards, and kale. One of the girls was hungry and kept wanting more whereas the two boys were a little pickier about what they ate. I told her we had to wait to allow the plants to mature so we could get the most from them. I absolutely love kindergarten classes because I can be a little bit whimsical or play follow the leader and they love it. We pretended the trench the sunflowers are in is lava to make sure we didn't step on any of the sunflowers, and played follow the leader when they kept running through the garden.

Finally, we did some maintenance for the garden. Everything is starting to look great, but a garden always need work done! We turned the compost (to the best of my knowledge) and added some water because it looked extremely dry. We also poured more water on the papayas since they look like they're struggling a little bit from the transplanting. Lastly, we weeded since weeding always needs to be done. As long as we can keep ahead of the sedge, then we're in great shape! Well until next week!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rolly Pollys Everywhere!

This morning in the garden we worked with a class of spunky 2nd graders. Most were garden veterans, but we did have a few new students who seemed kind of shy about the garden at first. After we gave them the tour, though, everyone was engaged and outgoing. Some of the students even knew more about the plants in the beds than I did! Several of the students wanted to water the plants, and it took at least two students to carry the full watering can. Many of the students did not know what snow peas were, so we showed them some fully grown peas in the bed. I had to reassure them that they would get to eat the peas soon:
The most exciting part for the students, though, was definitely the discovery of rolly pollys. As soon as one student discovered rolly pollys and snails under a rock, the rest of the class was quickly drawn in. We explained that the bugs were an important part of the decomposition process, and that plants need bugs to survive. We also had them draw pictures of what they saw in the garden. Here are some samples:
These kids really made my morning brighter... working with them is a great way to start the day!


Erin S.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

From garden to table: The Wellness Kitchen

Hi There! I am Sarah Tucker, a graduate student from Ole Miss. This school year I will be working in the garden and in the Wellness Kitchen. Today we went exploring, picking, cooking and tasting! We had so much fun and learned a lot too.

We tasted sweet peas straight out of the garden!

For the 3 & 4 year old Pre-K students we picked, cooked, and ate beets. They loved the bright red color and learning how healthy they will grow when eating them.

For the 4 & 5 year old Pre-K class we cooked our own collard greens.
We picked the collards, washed them off, cut them up, sprinkled balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic on them. Then we cooked them in a frying pan. The Pre-K class loved the collard greens!

With the Kindergarten classes we made kale chips. They were a hit! Kale is rich in Vitamin K, C, & A. It is filled with magnesium which is great for the heart. In addition, it has lots of phytonutrients that help fight diseases like cancer.
How to make Kale Chips:
You need: Kale, olive oil, garlic, a cookie pan, parchment paper, & an oven
1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Lakewood has incredible students! I was so proud of how open they were to tasting beets, collard greens, and kale. Next week, I plan on sending the kids home with a recipe to share with their parents.

Take Care,

Today was a lovely sunny day in the garden, and the first time some of the kindergardeners ever visited the garden! The kids were so excited to get out into the garden and see all the veggies that have been growing. The kindergardeners knew a surprising amount about the garden already, and one even explained to me the importance of having pollinators around, such as the bees that were loving the broccoli flowers bees on broccoli The part that the kids enjoyed the most was seeing veggies and plants that they are familiar with, such as the corn baby corn. Everyone was also interested in seeing the collard greens, which they all recognized from home meals, as well as the aloe plant, which was recognized by kids who have used aloe lotion to treat various burns.
While teaching the science curriculum, the part that most students were fascinated by was the idea that we need some of the same things that plants need to grow, such as water. Making the connection between the seemingly non-active plants, and their very active selves was a great way to bring home the lesson.
Some lucky classes also got to cook some produce from the garden in the Wellness Kitchen with volunteer Sarah Tucker. They came out to the garden to check out the kale they were going to cook, then went back inside to start the process. Watching the kid's faces light up as Sarah picked some kale and pulled a beet out of the dirt was definitely the highlight of the day.

The Kids Arrive!

Tuesday was my first day working in the garden with the kids and it was absolutely fantastic!
The lesson of the day sought to get each grade level to think like scientists. "What do plants need to grow? Lets go find out!" We looked around at all the plants and decided that plants needed soil, water, and sunshine. Depending on the age group- we really drilled it in Water! Soil! Sunshine! Water! Soil! Sunshine!

"How do plants drink water? They don't have a mouth," one kinder-gardener asked.
"Through their root of course!"
"Well... um.... Miss Shannon.... Whats a root?"
We got into a whole conversation about how for every green thing she saw in the garden, there was a root system that went down into the ground. I used sedge-weeds to show her the root systems. We talked about how the roots were a little like tongues drinking up the water and the plant-food in the soil. She thought that was SO cool.
Another girl, in third grade, was REALLY interested in how plants grow. I spent close to 10 minutes with her discussing the structure, flowering, and fruiting of the papaya tree. She said "So, if you like plants and all that, does that mean you have to like science too? cause I don't like science, but I think I like this garden stuff." We talked about how science was in all things: human bodies, stars, plant cells, soil, fingernails, everything. We talked about how science was really just being curious and having questions. She said "Well, I have lots of questions."
"Then you're a perfect candidate to be a scientist."
"Cooooooool" She responded.
"The cool thing about science," I said "Is not always knowing the right answers, but asking the right questions. You're really good at asking the right kind of questions, I think you've got what it takes to be a scientist."
"Yeah, I've been thinkin' that too."

When we asked what some of the garden rules should be, some of the younger kids had some really great ideas: "don't stand in front of their sunlight", "don't do karate on them", "don't hug them too tight." I didn't think that my work in the garden would get me thinking about government spending and policy so quickly, but wouldn't it be great if we re-directed FCAT money into lowering the student/teacher ratio in the classes? There seemed to be a direct link between number of students and the stress this causes for teachers. I think making the student-teacher ratio a bigger priority would have a much higher impact on students than test-taking. Just an idea though. What do you think?

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Almost Time!

Today we had our second early-morning weekly meeting at the garden... and what an exciting one it was! Tomorrow is our first day with the students and there is still so much to be done. After a logistics talk from Professor Curtis, my five independent study comrades and I taught the volunteers the lesson plans we came up with for this week (Jamie describes them two posts back). Everyone seemed to catch on very quickly so I am confident that tomorrow will run smoothly.

We began spreading mulch today, but we didn't finish the whole garden. We also planted papaya and continued weeding. Tomorrow we will have to keep up with maintenance while teaching the kids...we will not be bored! I'm a newcomer to the project so I'm especially excited for the kids to come out. This morning I heard two boys on the playground talking about how much they love tomatoes. Two girls walking by on the road sidewalk even stopped to tell me, "I go to this school!" I definitely felt the excitement in the air.

I'll leave you with this awesome picture of our pollinator garden:

Erin S

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday, February 11th, 2011

This morning wasn't exactly the warm sunny weather people come to Florida for, but as for my first experience working in the garden I'd call it a success. Katie S. and I worked the 8:00-10:00 shift this morning.
We began by thinking ahead and setting aside a few things that will be used in the lessons for the students next week. We took a mini adventure to find mulch at the local recycling plant only to find that it was closed, simply meaning its a job for another day. Once back at the school we planted some watermelon seeds and turned our attention to weeding for the rest of our shift.
The garden is starting to look really good with the weeds being pulled and the vibrant colored tops of the boxes encasing various growing vegitables. I'm really looking forward to seeing the kids learn in this beautiful little oasis.
- Chelsea Ehmann

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rained out but still excited!

Unfortunately I got rained out of the garden this morning, but I think there is still some hope for the later 12:15-2:15 shift to get out there and keep up with maintenance - the sun is trying so hard to come out! If we had the students coming out, rain or shine we would be there to conduct the lesson plans about the garden, but because it is solely a maintenance day, we were unable to do any work.

We may not be in the garden right now, but we are constantly working on lesson plans and things related to the garden! Last night, all of the independent study girls got together to discuss and brainstorm ideas for the lesson plan for next week - our first week with the kids! There are 6 girls, including myself, on the Independent Study team. We were given a basic lesson idea but worked together to make it fun and understandable for the different grade levels of students that we will be teaching throughout the next week. We came up with separate ideas for each grade level but kept the theme of "The Magic of Seeds" at hand. This lesson plan will help Lakewood students understand how a plant grows. What sort of things does a seed need in order to turn into a plant? Where does the seed come from? Come Monday morning we will give the lesson plans and activities out to our INCREDIBLY helpful volunteers, talk about the activities, and get these Lakewood students thinking about seeds!

I took an environmental education (EE) class at Eckerd and I have been a part of many EE programs. While learning how to create a lesson plan and getting ideas, there have been several books that have helped me gain insight into new and fun activities:

I'm excited to start working with the children because I am a novice at gardening and have a feeling I am going to be learning a lot from them. I also enjoy working with kids, especially when it's in a fun and healthy environment - one that they are familiar with and take pride in.

That's all for now!
An Independent Study Lady

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This morning, the sun shone down on the garden giving us some nice rays to bathe in as we worked. Most of the time in the garden today was spent weeding the beds, the three sisters, as well as the pineapples. This sedge is the major weed invader in the garden these days, but we have been diligently removing it piece by piece.


Unfortunately, because of the cold, we have lost a few pineapples that we had to dig up this morning. Good thing pineapple tops are quite abundant around here, so I'm sure we won't have any trouble replacing them.

We continued yesterday's bed beautification project by starting to paint the sides of the beds. We are looking forward to getting creative with the designs we will paint on each bed. There's nothing like bright red, blue and yellow to bring some extra cheer to the already cheerful space. Try to imagine these:


........... but in great new colors! (Photos are on the way!)

Today was also a seed collecting day. We gathered the seeds from old tomatoes left over, and put them in a container to save for later use.

Although we had a great day in the garden, we sure are looking forward to getting the kids out there to help us out!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A day in the Garden

Today at the Garden, the temperature was chilly, but with clear skies allowing the piercing Sun's warmth, it made for ideal weather. With perfect working conditions, we swiftly began eliminating those annoying weeds from in and around our Garden. After about 30 minutes, feeling warm and cozy, we started adding color to our wonderful Garden. Blue, Red, Yellow and even black painting covered our Garden Boxes top edge. These colors gave the dull boxes a little bit of life, and authenticity.
Lastly, with the majority of our time spent eliminating weeds from the Garden, we successfully began to plow another 2 feet uprooted land. Leaving solid dirt which will then be covered by mulch for more control over weeds. This enhances our native plants survivor from succession and competition including the good ol' lands keepers.

This box I personally painted

While working in the Garden today, I was surprised to see that even maintaining a Garden would be amusing and social. While we individually worked, we listened to top 40 music and held frequent conversations, getting to know one another and our interests. Occasionally some laughs were shared and friendships were made, which in my book marks as a successful day. I'm excited to see the progression and represent that creativity goes a long way.

Student Volunteer,

And we're off!

These are photos from the end of Winter Term (January). Somewhere, there is a camera with pictures from yesterday. When I find it, I will post those as well. If you saw them, you would see this beautiful garden filled with people. We have more than twenty participant garden instructors in the Peace Patch this spring. All of them gathered with me for our first weekly project meeting of the year yesterday morning. For two years, I have met with Eckerd students weekly at Eckerd College to discuss the garden, go over lesson plans, and monitor garden progress. This year we hold these meetings at the garden. Every Monday. 7:45 a.m. And so, there we were, sitting around in the heavy fog and light mist of winter Florida, learning about the new native plants we have put at the edge of the Patch, looking at the depth of sedge roots, examining sprouts, sampling parsley, sipping warm coffee, and planning the work ahead.

Six Eckerd College students will be taking the curriculum we have been building over the past two years and adjusting the activities and the lessons to become grade appropriate. (In the past, we have aimed for the middle and found it too much for the youngsters and too little for the older kids; they change FAST at this age.) Some seventeen to twenty (we're still sorting things out) Eckerd volunteers are also staffing the multiple shifts so that all of the classes from K-4 at Lakewood Elementary will be able to visit the garden once a week until May. We have two Academy of Senior Professionals volunteers joining us as well, Julie and Elria, and a student from USF. We have a project intern for the spring, Sarah, a graduate student from Ole Miss, who is helping us add nutritional and health-oriented elements to the garden work and to the curriculum.

All of them were there in those photos. Curious, excited to be underway. Some of them hiding from the camera. Other hamming it up. Everyone making my day that much brighter.

The starters seen above have all sprouted and I also have pictures of the tomatoes sprouted there (from our own seeds from our plants from last year) being transferred to the bed where they will grow this semester. Students getting their hands dirty preparing the food plants for a three month nurturing into fruit. The potted plants you see below are the natives we've added, and they too are already in the ground in the pictures on that camera which I will find before too long. Here they are!

Kip Curtis
Peace Patch Project Director