Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Getting Ready and Growing Strong

Every day is literally a new day for me in the garden. Things grow so much in a weekend's time and although we are battling fungus in some of our beds, the others are doing phenomenal! Our Okra is so delicious and healthy. I've never grown my own food so I'm learning a lot - my favorite fun fact is that when the flower of a plant (like squash) dies, that means it's ready to be eaten! What great communicating mother nature is capable of :)

The most amazing thing I've seen when it comes to fast growing are our sunflowers! They are my favorite flower and it is so welcoming to see this giant leaves and flowers every time I visit the garden!

Just so you have an idea, Max (pictured) is about 6'2'' and most of the sunflowers are taller than him! It's been such an incredible journey watching them go from tiny stalks to illuminated flowers. I cannot wait for the Harvest Festival next Tuesday and I know the kids are just as excited to show off the garden.

We have put a lot of hard work into the garden this year and I cannot wait to cook food using the veggies and show the parents what the kids have been up to at school! A lot of my Lakewood lovelies have been talking about wanting to start their own garden and so maybe if their parents see the success of ours, they'd be willing to start one of their own! Although, a large majority of my children's families already have gardens which is great! 

This semester has been so inspiring for me and I hope it is as inspiring the children. Above is a picture of our baby watermelon growing into a young adolescent :) (pictured above with the sandal). I remember a couple weeks ago when it was the size of a grape! Our tomatoes (pictured below) are also looking quite delicious. I'm getting so excited for all the delicious foods we are going to have and all the wonderful company that we are going to be surrounded by!

We spent the day prepping the garden for our visitors as well as reviewing all of the cycles and lessons we've learned over the semester with our kids. Next week will be our final goodbye :(

Next Tuesday @ Lakewood Elementary!
"Be there or be a rotten cucumber"
(as one of my darling first graders exclaimed when I told them about the Harvest Fest) 

Jamie P.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Growing and Progress!

 April 28, 2011

        Today was one of the first days I started to notice the hot Florida temperatures, as the temperature is normally pretty moderate at 8 AM in the morning. Upon arriving, we had some time for maintenance. I did some weeding of various areas, while Joanisa worked on removing the beetles from the sunflowers. We also made some kale chips for the kids with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. They were delicious.

           This morning we noticed that the birds had chewed off a sunflower from its stem, and it had fallen to the ground. We took this opportunity to dissect it and teach the kids about the anatomy of a flower, and how each part is beneficial. We used terms like seed, stem, petal, and leaf to help them identify each part.

         When the kids came, we reviewed everything that we have learned this year. We went over the life-cycle of a butterfly and its importance (with kale chips as a reward), and the water cycle. Additionally, we discussed the different elements plants need to grow such as soil, water, and sunlight. Finally, we covered the topic of the insects' role in the garden, which is by far the kids' favorite topic. It is very rewarding to see that the students are starting to recognize which plant is which, and where each plant is growing.
The pumpkins (above) are coming along very nicely, as does the corn (below). 
            Today's lesson was about watering the garden. We filled up several watering pots and allowed each student a chance to water some produce. However, things quickly turned chaotic when the students got carried away and began to get very wet. It was at this point that we reconvened to have a discussion about how to safely and correctly water a garden without getting wet.
            Tommy spent a lot of time collecting seeds from the wildflower and herbs area. The process looked extremely tedious. However, this process is the most beneficial when teaching about sustainable gardening. A lot of the students seemed surprised that the seeds are produced by the flowers. It was a good visual for them to actually see this happen.
Dill seeds have been collected on the left in the clay cup, and cilantro was collected in the plastic cup to the right. 
            All in all, the day was very successful. With the help of the students, the garden is fully watered and the weeding and seeding seems to be under control. We are very excited for the Harvest Festival, and are looking forward to sharing the food with the community, sampling all the dishes, and enjoying the garden.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday April 27

This week's lesson is a review of the many cycles we have talked about in the garden with the kids. On Wednesdays, we have all younger kids, so instead of playing the scavenger hunt, we simply walked them around the garden and talked about some of the things we have learned. We stopped at the compost to talk about soil and what makes good soil.

We stopped at the wildflower bed to talk about and pollination and the seed cycle
We also stopped to look at different bugs found in the garden, and talked about why they are important members of the garden 

We finished the lesson by letting the kids pick their favorite game to play.
The rest of the day was spent spreading mulch around the garden, and getting it in great shape for the Harvest Fest.
We have been visited a few times this week by a group of wild parakeets that love to munch on our sunflowers. Sadly, they tend to destroy whole parts of the flower:
At least the birds are enjoying our garden as well!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Good Morning Peace Patch!

 I love walking through the doors leading out to the Peace Patch.  It is quiet, a little before 8 in the morning and the sun is just coming up over the garden.  

What a great sight.  It has been an amazing experience watching not only the plants grow week to week but the relationships with the kids and community grow as well.  The time has flown and with only 2 weeks remaining today's lesson was a review of what we have learned.  The kids had an awesome time on a scavenger hunt with clues that lead them all around the garden.  

Sweet Potatoes ready to be harvested.
Lots of yummy vegetables are ready to be harvested for the Harvest Festival next week. The festival will be on May 3rd from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Students are encouraged to bring their family and friends to show them the garden and to share in the harvest.  Each volunteer will be making a dish from a vegetable grown in the garden that will be served at the festival.  I personally am looking forward to the sweet potato casserole Katie is making.  Yummy!  

Can you guess what I could be making from this vegetable?
Hope to see you all next week at the Harvest Festival!!

peace and gardening

Monday, April 25, 2011

Start your morning right...With a big pile of mulch!

Today was a quiet day at Lakewood, it was a teacher work day so we sadly did not have any youngsters to grace our presence in the garden. However, as we near the harvest festival (May 3rd), having no kids around did not mean we twiddled our thumbs. There is much to be done in the garden.

When I arrived Erin was arms deep in clearing leaves which had been overtaken by a fungus from the cucumber.
 Once our friends arrived with the truck filled with mulch, Erin, Christina and I set out on the job of moving the mulch to its new home on the ground.
 After much joyful labor, we emptied the truck. This was one of the biggest truckloads of much yet!
 And much needed, as the sedge was already taking over as fast as it could.
Soon the garden will be looking in tip-top shape. Starting the week with some sprucing up is a great way to build high energy and hopes for a wonderful harvest-fest next week! Hope to see you all there!


Friday, April 22, 2011

A Reflection

As an independent study person (i.e. a project manager) for the Lakewood Edible Peace Patch project, I really don't have words to describe the experiences I have encountered and the things I have learned this past semester. I have learned more then lesson planning and what goes into organizing a project - I have learned about myself. There is a sadness that comes with my graduating because I know that working in the garden with these kids is probably not something I will able to continue next year. I love seeing how excited they get when they come to the garden, and even more, I love how well they retain information they have learned in the previous weeks! This hands on learning style is so great for them and I'm a tad jealous I never had this experience in elementary school!

It has been such a phenomenal semester at Lakewood and coming into this project knowing VERY little about gardening, I am shocked that I know have the confidence to start my own garden at home and that I am capable of planting and taking care of things that turn into food! I have learned that although it's hard work and sometimes doesn't turn out the way you plan, in the end it gardening and growing food feels great, looks great, tastes great and is just such a powerful and amazing thing that has come into my life, and I am so thankful for this opportunity.

And who says the Wellness Kitchen run by Sarah Tucker is just for the Lakewood students....this garden has made ME improve my eating habits at home. Not only do I shop organic, I have started composting, and am absolutely addicted to kale chips! Sarah Tucker definitely makes eating vegetables fun and delicious :)

My favorite part of the garden this week is definitely our baby watermelons! Maybe because they're small and adorable but mostly because the kids thought I was lying when I said we had watermelons and now I have proof! :)

I have taken so much from this project and I cannot wait to see the progress it makes through the years.

Jamie P

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sunny Day

This morning we asked what students remembered about the previous lesson. "Don't pick the veggies!" they cried out earnestly, nearly in unison and echoing each other. Good enough. We continued with this week's lesson about endemic plants as we meandered through the outskirts of the garden, home to many of the native plants (as described eloquently in Monday and Tuesdays blog posts). Today, before we could quite complete the lesson, most of the class had wandered off, distracted by the beauty of the sunflowers (we can't blame them, they were tiny last they had seen). Now, the stalks towered over them, flowers as big as their faces. Some sunflowers had beetles buried in them, as one student noted. Though a bit skiddish being anywhere near the bees, they appreciate them very much and understand the good that they do. From afar, some students call the bees their cousins, recounting tales of having worked with them, pollinating and protecting the queen (they're now retired). The bumble bee we saw today was deemed their grandmother. Some students traipsed through the garden, curious to find out the name of each plant (again), pushing aside leaves to find the ceramic signs or asking us. While one student munched down on raw dill with delight, another spat it out, still smiling. One student asked to wear my sunglasses. I gave them with the condition that she pass them on in a few moments and that she tell the person she gives them to to pass them on in a few moments, and so on. We were so proud to see how well they shared! After choosing out leaves from the native plants, the students made leaf rubbings with colored pencils and crayons. Because we were all so well behaved today, we got treated to cucumber slices! Some students diligently picked out the seeds (without being asked, mind you) one by one to lay out in the sun and save. We also took out the sidewalk chalk to draw garden related pictures (and names and hop-scotch).
We've recently learned that students respond beautifully to song, especially the "put it in the compost" riff.
Weave Peace and Plant Seeds,
Joanisa Tenreiro 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

Today was a miraculously beautiful day out in the Peace Patch!  The day began with routine maintenance but then launched into a great debate over the best Florida Native plants!  Our classes today learned about the Florida Friendly or native plants that we have planted alongside our vegetable beds and sunflowers.  These plants are important to our ecosystem here in Florida and they provide many incentives for birds and butterflies.  Many are flowering plants that once in bloom radiate under the Florida sunshine and still others are soon to be vibrantly full of berries!  The list began at the Weeping Holly which is a white colored tree with small leaves and soon to have tons of red berries, Jamaican Caper which has also small leaves is a smaller plant with flowers about to open, Simpson's Stopper which has notably thick waxy leaves for water retention which is a great trait of Florida natives.  The rest of the plants, Cocoa Plum was interesting for its berries, Beauty berry had as one student pointed out mint like leaves, Christmas berry looks like a Christmas tree, fire bush is red and finally coral honeysuckle vine.

  Our students had a blast learning about the different plants but they insisted upon visiting the garden as well.  The garden has become greener and greener everyday!  As a treat for our first class we cut up a green and a yellow cucumber and gave pieces to the students after they had finished their drawings.  The students were asked to trace the leaves with colored pencils to note the differences among them and to point out specific characteristics of the different plants.  This lesson was a great success on a great Wednesday!  In addition to the cucumbers we were able to harvest a huge yellow squash, some gigantic okra and nasturtiums which go great on a salad!  Everyone was loving the green in the garden today and I especially enjoyed the enthusiasm from our students who make our project possible.

Have a great week!
Christina Pucci

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday April 19, 2011

This week's lesson is on Florida Friendly Plants.    Two vocabulary words that are being introduced this week are endemic and exotic.  Endemic plants are plants that are native to Florida, while exotic plants are not native to Florida.  We are lucky enough to have a number of native or endemic (from Florida) plants in our garden.
Students and Teachers circle up to find out the lesson of the day.

Included in this week's lesson is a tour of the native plants found in the peace patch and leaf rubbing.  The students were excited to learn about plants from their area and also to get creative with the leaf rubbing.  We have lots of great pictures to show off at this years Harvest Festival in May.
Firebush or Hamelia patens. An endemic plant that attracts butterflies with it's bright red blooms.

I hope everyone has a great week, its awesome to see how much things are growing and how excited the kids are getting for the Harvest Festival.  

peace and sunshine:)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Last week we tried a lot of new and exciting foods.  A few classes tried our yellow cucumbers and corn.  But the real hit was our okra.  Sauteed with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
I was shocked by how everyone enjoyed it so much.  
and I didn't even have to pan fry it for them to like it!
The above photo of our okra next to store bought okra speaks volumes. 
When you buy or harvest organic produce locally you impact our environment in a positive way, as it does not have to travel 1,000 of miles to arrive on your plate.  
You are also eating produce that is highly nutritious as it does not lose nutrition value on its way over to your market.

This weeks menu will consist of Okra, nasturtium cucumber salad, and a recipe for our pumpkins!  

Take Care,
Sarah Tucker

Sunday, April 17, 2011

School Lunch Initiative

On Friday State Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam visited the Edible Peace Patch.  Commissioner Putnam is promoting an initiative to address good nutrition through the school lunch programs in Florida public school by encouraging the purchase of locally grown foods and the integration of healthy eating into the life of public schools.  

He was very interested to hear about the contribution of Eckerd College students to the gardening and education effort.  He seemed equally interested to hear about our Wellness Kitchen being run by Ole Miss Gradate Student, Sarah Tucker.

Thanks to the hard work of student volunteers and Lakewood students, the Edible Peace Patch was just coming into full development.  I was able to show Commissioner Putnam arugula seeds, collard greens, two kinds of cucumber, green beans, yellow squash, pumpkins, dill and dill seeds, corriander seeds, and a growing number of okra.

Several officials from the Pinellas County School District's Food Services Division visited along with the Commissioner.  They were impressed with all the work that everyone has done and they promised me that they would help us find ways to get the Peace Patch food into the Lakewood Elementary School kitchen.  They were thrilled to have a project like ours to show to Commissioner Putnam.

After his tour of the Peace Pacth, local news and pinellas county school tv interviewed Commissioner Putnam about his impressions and I tried to eavesdrop.  But I could not hear what was being said.

He marvelled at our okra before heading north to visit another school in the county with an extensive hydroponic gardening project.  Makes me think we need a SWFMD grant...  

Kip Curtis
Project Director

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!

Today was crazy! We had a few classes and we seeded arugula, which the kids loved eating! The seeding lesson led the kids to think about foods that have edible seeds in them like pumpkins and tomatoes, and the kids got super excited thinking about the harvest festival!We also used the seeding lesson as a chance to reinforce decomposition and the importance of composting... I think they have these concepts down!

 The class was a welcomed distraction, because we spent the majority of the time tackling the sedge monster...

 and spreading MULCH! We are lucky to have a recycling center right across the street that supplies us with mulch. It's a great way to keep the garden looking great without spending a lot of money. I was amazed at how much work we got done today. It was hot and tiring, but the finished product was definitely worth it!

  Happy Thursday!!
-The Edible Peace Patch

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Today the star of the garden was the okra (pictured right)... they are getting so big so fast! I was lucky to snag one to take home for dinner and boy, was it yummy! I was also surprised to see how much the kids liked the okra; most little kids I know would not touch okra, but the Lakewood students love it!

We spent most of our time weeding the squash and pumpkin patch and pulling out dead leaves to create more room for
growth. Since the arugula has so many seeds, our classes helped us harvest the arugula seed pods again today. The classes really liked pretending to be seeds, then buds and flowers, and seeds again. 
Sara also fixed the hose today and we were able to water the garden very easily. Instead of watering for 1 1/2 hours, it only took 45 minutes!  The garden's getting huge, there are a bunch of pumpkins, squash, cucumbers..and a baby watermelon!  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cooking with root vegetables

Hi There!  
Last week was a fun one in the wellness kitchen.  We learned all about root vegetables!  Specifically radishes, turnips, and beets.  They were delicious but a harder sell for the kids than other vegetables.  The radishes and Turnips have a bit of a kick to them, which some kids love and others are not sure about.  The beets were a hit with most of the kids though. 

Our recipe of the week was:
Beet and Turnip Chips 
turn the oven to 350 degrees
put beets and turnips in food processor to cut up after washing them
baste them with olive oil 
place on a cookie sheet
salt them
turn them over 20 minutes.  baking for an hour or longer.


For an appetizer we had  cut up radishes with sea salt.  The kids that liked spicier foods loved this!

{they loved using the food processor}
{radishes and sea salt}
{preparing to go in the oven}
{We also composted the waste - always good to reiterate what they've learned in the garden.}
{One of the kindergarten kids drew this beautiful picture of a radish.
  The students at lakewood are very talented artists!}
More notes from the wellness kitchen coming soon!  

Take Care,
Sarah Tucker