Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Notes from the Wellness Kitchen

Today, I thought I'd tell a few tips for anyone who decides to take over the wellness kitchen next semester.

The kids and I have built a good relationship and almost all of them will at least try what we cook. I find the fact that they see where the food comes from, help to pick and then cook it, helps them stay more open to foods they would normally turn down. There are a few things I try to do to give positive peer pressure. Although, I never tell anyone they must try anything, it should always be on their own accord to try something new or turn it down. We practice good manners and no one is allowed to taste until everyone has it. Then, we all try it at the exact same time. I always say "mmmm" afterwards and they usually mimic what I say. I stay positive about the experience and most times they are too. It is so helpful that the teachers are also open to trying- They have all been as enthusiastic as I am. This is important because kids are always watching - which spills into every aspect of our life choices. For example, If you are drinking a coke, they don't understand why they can't. Being around children helps me to remain conscious and mindful of the little decisions I make everyday because I always want to be a good example. This is applied to everything I do and say. I never want to be a person who says "do as I say, and not as I do".

Now, onto what we've been cooking . . .

We've had a great week cooking up the beautiful squash and carrots that have popped up in our garden. We've chopped them up and sauteed them in garlic and olive oil.
Hope you all have a great Spring Break!
I can't wait to see what will have popped up when I come back!

Take Care,

Sarah Tucker

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beautiful Thursday in the Garden

This morning the garden was bursting with life (and the kids seemed to notice, too!). The butterfly lesson was extremely relevant today, as we spotted three monarchs. I took particular notice to the sunflowers and the cucumbers, which seem to be growing at an alarming rate! By next week we should definitely have sunflowers at about 5 feet.
Today we had the second graders tell us about the butterfly cycle. One student called the Cocoon stage the "canoe" stage, and the rest of the class caught on immediately. This amused the volunteers as well as the teacher, but by the end of the session everyone knew the true name of a cocoon. The kids also drew the stages after we talked about them. I am noticing an increase in detail and accuracy as the semester progresses. We also spent a great deal of time battling the sedge. Next week is spring break and the following Saturday we plan on having a work day, so hopefully the sedge monster will be defeated!

Spring is in the air at the Edible Peach Patch... I can't wait to return from Spring Break to see how much everything has grown!

Keep growing!

Erin Stockdale
Independent Study

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

rock paper scissor Butterfly!!

Today in the garden we continued with the lesson plan of the week Metamorphosis! This word which looks and sounds pretty huge to elementary school students actually became pretty clear through the flash cards we made and the activity that we had in store. The lesson plan taught about the 4 stages of metamorphosis egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and then eventually butterfly. Our lesson plan explained the more scientific stages of the cycle using vocab words such as larva and pupa. Today's classes were really excited about this lesson because they have actually been learning about life cycles in science class. Metamorphosis being such an elaborate word we took special time to reiterate to each of our classes. The best way in which I found that words were remembered would be to have the students as a group say it over and over again getting louder and louder making it fun.

After we were able to get the lessons done we played the game portion of the lesson, which in my opinion was the best part! By demonstrating for the students what each cycle should look like, crouched down in an egg shape playing "rock paper scissors" then when one of us wins we change into a caterpillar and then eventually a chrysalis and finally a butterfly. We had each student pair off with another and start the game off as eggs. We would circulate ourselves throughout the class playing a few rounds and watching the progression. It was an awesome lesson and it got the students working together and reinforcing the life cycle of a butterfly.

Christina Pucci

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Butterfly Tuesdays

As I entered through Peace Patch’s white gate this morning, I remained in a half-asleep daze. The morning blues consumed me until the team’s eagerness to conquer the tasks ahead sparked immediate excitement! We began the morning by clearing the beds containing any visible weeds. They were everywhere, and seem to never stop coming back! Clearing the weeds takes little manpower, but great patience. Walking through the garden, I noticed the ‘Three Sisters’ were absolutely covered with them.

The ‘Three Sisters’ is an ancient Native American method of growing corn, squash, and beans closely together so that they actually benefit one another. They encourage nutrients in the soil, while preventing any weeds from growing. Unaware of this sufficient and sustainable gardening method, I mercilessly pulled out dozens of them surrounding the mound. Only until after I finished clearing did our (I.S.) leader, Katie, mention that the 'Sisters' were doing the same work all along—just over a longer period of time; they grow in manner that deters weeds from getting sunlight, eventually riding the mound from them.

After I got over my embarrassment, I noticed bees were also doing work. Taking pollen from the squash plants’ flowers, which rely on bees as they have both male and female blossoms, the important bugs transferred pollen from the flower to the squash’s leaves; thanks to these tiny helpers, squash reproduce other squash!

Now, I felt entirely useless! Not only were the ‘Three Sisters’ taking care of the weeds, but the bees were also repopulating the squash! I continued through the garden, only to see Katie completing a brand new immaculate gourd bed.

This made me more eager to do something productive, so I decided to help Cam dig a large hole to make way for our new compost pile.

Competing against one another, in a friendly manner of course, we created an ideal spot; eventually, water will be trapped below, encouraging the compost to turn into healthy soil.

We placed the compost pile’s wooden cage above the hole, and reinforced it with extra dirt.

The Peace Patch is proud to announce a compost pile trifecta!

Shortly after, our students came outside to learn about butterflies—rather, they came outside to teach their mentors about butterflies. They knew every aspect of their developing process!

Convinced they had it down cold, fellow volunteers, the students, and I went on to play a tweaked version of ‘Rock-Paper-Scissors,’ reformatted to the development of Butterflies: whoever won a game would rise in the ranks of turning from an egg to a caterpillar, cocoon, and finally into a butterfly.

I am proud to say I took one final beating, losing six times in a row to Lakewood’s brilliant 2nd graders.

Until next time,

Nicholas Ginsburg

Monday, March 21, 2011


Translation: Good morning, everyone! Sydney here. My best friend is studying abroad in Italy and I've been working on my Italian just in case she forgot English.

note: speaking in a different language doesn't work well with little kids...they tend to get confused :/.

Anyway, I know ya'll are on the edge of your seats asking yourself "WHAT HAPPENED ON MONDAY?!" Well, here I am, twenty four hours later, letting you know that the garden is still alive and so are the volunteers!

Monday morning as I drove in a delirious haze to the garden at 7:30am, the sun was an orange ball in the sky. What made this orange ball so amazing was the fact that I wasn't blinded by its light, a rare event for Flordia's powerful sun. As I drove further East, it continued to rise and grow larger brightening my morning. Though daylight savings time has made me even more absentminded (hints why this blog is a day late), moments like this make waking up early worth my while.

Alright, so, once at the garden and the coffee was initiated into my blood stream, the kids' energy was anything but tolerable. This week is all about METAMORPHOSIS. I would just like to say, "YESSSSSSSSS!" This is one of my favorite lesson plans!

Reason #1: caterpillars
Reason #2: butterflies

Prime spot in the garden for caterpillars- the flower bed.

Last Friday we found SIX monarch caterpillars and this Monday there were none. PERFECT example for this week's lesson. Where did they all go? By the time we were done explaining the process, with help of the visual aids (shout out to the IS volunteers), the second and third graders were experts on the metamorphic process of these strange creatures! The rock, paper, scissors game was a hit...the kids enjoyed getting to a phase 2 egg, phase 3 egg, and so on and so forth. Between the two classes, phase 10 was the highest phase that they got too!

Because the kids were well behaved and our pride glorified, they got a special treat to play a game they both know and love, bees and pollinators! Here is a photo essay to portray the action-packed game...

The Pollinators at the Ready...

The bees are on the ball when Christina signals to GO!

(no sweat, eh?)

The garden is well underway for the harvest fest- collard greens, kale, squash, and cucumber are FLOURISHING and it it so exciting to see the crops' exponential growth day to day!

PS: Friday the Google Maps car drove by! If you're looking up directions to Lakewood Elementary, be sure to check out the street view to see if Jamie, Max, and I are famous gardeners! Thanks Google!

(goodbye to everyone)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fun Friday

Today was exciting wandering around the garden in search of bugs with the kids. Like usual, the rolly pollys were the biggest hit; the kids loved them! I had about 20 of them in my cup after looking in the compost - we also found a cockroach! Katie and I watered the broccoli, the wildflower bed and a few other beds and Alex started putting together our new compost area.

He was also brave enough to catch a bee so the kids could observe it closely without getting stung. (we had a flower and air holes poked in the container). They were so excited!

- Chelsea Ehmann

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Pattys Day Bugs!

This week, the kiddies have been loving collecting bugs in the garden, and I've enjoyed watching their faces light up as they scramble to catch rolly pollies in the compost. Under a log, we found a fat grub, which excited some, and grossed out others.

Our new visitor, the caterpillar, has been the most popular bug in the garden. They're pretty entertaining to watch as they munch away on leaves. We can't wait until they turn into beautiful Monarch butterflies!

The new outdoor chalkboard is finally finished, with help from Anna and Cam. So far, it has been a great visual for our bug lesson this week. The three main things that bugs do in our garden: decompose, pollinate, protect.

Until next time,
Sara Head

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Aphid-Eaters and New Visitors!

Today was a BEAUTIFUL day in the garden, and our classes were thrilled to be out in the Florida sunshine. The kids had a great time being "bug scientists" with their aprons and magnifying glasses. They found all the usual bug suspects (roly polys, caterpillars, and spiders) and a few new visitors today. A baby monarch butterfly really sparked the 5th graders interests, and they had a fu time trying to catch it. We also spotted several ladybug larvae (pictured right) which, as the kids learned, are very good for the garden because they eat aphids (which eat the good garden plants). We also had a few run ins with a few very large wasps that have made themselves comfortable in between the compost bins. We all kept our distance from the wasps, even though we explained that they are also an important part of the garden.
We also had a special guest in the garden today! Nancy Langston, author of Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES, came to check out the Peace Patch. It was very exciting to hear her perspective on the work we're doing with the school, as she is an organic farmer herself... she had a lot of great things to say!
Until next time....

Christina Pucci and Erin Stockdale
Student Volunteers

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Did you know that there are a million species of bugs on our planet, and that bugs account for more than 50% of the world's biomass? Neither did I, until this week. Neither did my kindergartners, first, and second graders- until today.

My favorite part of the day was definitely the moment I realized how excellent my kindergartners were at reading. In the ongoing struggle to consistently pronounce "decomposition" and understand it's meaning, I have heard all kinds of creative follies: "de-com-sa-pition", "de-com-pition", "de-cuh-puh.....puh.... du-cuh-puh-sumthin". Today, they looked at the side-walk-chalked word and sounded it out crisp and clear! YAY!

On our bug hunt we got to learn about the monarch caterpillar's defense mechanism: two apparent sets of antennas at each end so that predators can't tell which end has the chompers. We got to watch bees load up their legs with pollen to take back to the hive, and discussed bee anatomy. My last class seemed really interested in the idea that some of the same bugs we usually think of as being bad for humans are actually really good for the garden (i.e. spiders). All the classes did an excellent job pairing each of the bugs we saw with what they did that was good for the garden: pollinate, protect, decompose.

Working in the Peace Patch is incredibly rewarding. Every week I see my kids build their understanding of science in the garden. They are getting more confident in answering questions, and are really learning to use their five senses to make good observations. I'm proud of them.'

One of the Kindergarten teacher's
journal activities
to help the kids remember

what they're learning.

Shannon Bean
A Happy Volunteer

Friday, March 11, 2011

We had another great day in the Wellness Kitchen with five different classes participating.
Miss F's class cooked kale pizza.
{pizza dough, kale, garlic, provolone, and pizza sauce.}

The kids drew pictures of Kale and learned more nutritious facts about it.

With the other classes we juiced oranges and tasted orange slices.
We also counted fruits and vegetables and colored.
Then we took a trip to the compost and each person threw their orange in the pile.
They told me what they had learned that week in the garden and knew so much about composting!
It was amazing to see how much information they soak up through the garden lessons

Good work everyone!!
take care,

Sarah Tucker

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away!

This morning we had an intense thunderstorm come through St. Petersburg - it was great for the garden but unfortunately our classes were rained out. Ethan and I were both shocked at how well everything in the garden is growing and got some maintenance work done! In the picture to the left you can see how well the corn, squash and pumpkins are doing....I'm completely amazed at how fast and how tall the corn has grown!

Ethan and I first started our morning in the garden by weeding sedge around the sunflowers. The rain made it so easy to get to the root of the sedge which was great for a mass weeding session. We really got a lot of sedge out from around the sunflowers which was great because the sunflowers are doing marvelous and I would hate to see the sedge bring em down! After we weeded a bunch around the garden, we fixed the compost bin - the bottom piece of wood had fallen off. It was a little bit of a gloomy day in the garden, especially because there were no children around but it was a great maintenance day!

Until next time,
Jamie P.
Independent Study

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Today was an amazing Wednesday! The first class of the day came out excited to learn and filled with energy. Our class put on their aprons to prepare for the Compost Kitchen lesson and sat around the picnic table awaiting the funky smelling surprise in store. As we discussed the compost and how it's made, the students decided to define it as "where everything goes to put back into the garden and make awesome soil." The key word of the lesson, "decomposition," was confusing at first but soon became an easy concept to understand. After we talked about what could and could not go in a compost (a cheeseburger, for example, wouldn't go in the compost, whereas an apple core would), we laid out some compost from our own kitchens across the picnic table to some yelps and "Ewws!" by our class. The class was grossed out and totally infatuated at the same time! After mustering up some courage to touch the decomposing food, we had our class toss the food into the brown tub and had two helpers carry the tub to the compost where we all watched the newly mashed up food get poured onto the compost pile. It was quite an epic site! Then, using the small pitch fork that I got at the Seed Swap in downtown St. Pete on Saturday March 5th, we all took turns turning the compost.

Our class loved turning the compost and even when the teacher was ready to head back, we had students asking for more time. This was a great first class. The second class went as well and thy were actually able to play a game after the lesson plan was completed. Using an abridged version of Red Light Green Light, we played Stop! Compost! This consisted of the students running toward us when we would say a word that could be composted such as banana peels, but then they would freeze if the word was something like a plastic bag
. This reinforced the importance of the different items that can and cannot go in the compost and we had a great time doing it. The class left just as the first had with big smiles and some more gardening knowledge about their Edible Peace Patch.
Our Kindergarten class had a great time as well... we had fun showing the students the different types of food we brought while teaching them about decomposition with real-life examples. The students especially loved learning about the bugs in the compost... they even found some caterpillars munching on some lettuce next to the compost! To end the day our last class of 5th graders in EBD, who are by far the most inquisitive and curious students I have ever had before, came out with many questions. These students are always asking about the next step. These students wanted to know more and more about the soil and why it was so great for the plants. The plants, as we explained, grew better with the soil that was created in the compost because it is full of nutrients; this, in turn, helps the overall success of the garden. Today was an amazing day for learning and exploration and adding in a bunch of sunshine made it even better!

Christina Pucci
Senior Comprehensive Intern

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


This morning with another cloudless sky in South side Saint Petersburg. The group and I did not find it a struggle to proceed with the mandatory daily weeding. As our muscles began to loosen and warm, we broke of individually preparing for our lesson plan on compost! The lesson consisted of teaching the students about what is good/healthy for the compost,as well as what is bad/disruptive for the compost. If time permitted after the compost activity, a game was usually played. The game depended on the students instructor. The game would either be a modification of "Red light,green light" or "Mother may I?" and would pertain to compost.
(the students loved this)

Half way through the day I found myself painting again, giving the garden some life and perhaps some defense. I painted a couple of rocks, and with the help of a friend proceeded to surround the pineapples with there own personal blockade. Inspired by Jackson Pollock.

I am also starting to notice a stronger connection between the kids and I. Especially after the students and I transplanted the bean/corn into a more official home. I am seeing more smiles and less frowning. The students are participating and behaving better than ever!

Student Volunteer