Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Garden Goodbye

Julia harvesting some plants from our beautiful, green garden at Lakewood Elementary School!

Some of our second graders having a good time answering the evaluation questions for us.

Some of the delicious vegetables that we harvested from the garden today to share with our classes and the secretaries at the front desk!

I must admit today was somewhat of a sad day as it was our last day working in the garden with our classes for this semester.. However, it went fantastic! We planned out our lesson and looked around the garden until our first class of Kindergarteners came out. Then, we went over a review of the numerous lesson plans that we taught over fall semester to evaluate how much the kids had absorbed. Our first class, considering their young age, did very well which made me very proud. After the evaluation we split up into groups and went to check on the progress of the carrots in the garden, which are coming along nicely! Before our second class (the second graders) came outside we took time to harvest some of the ripe vegetables. Once we were all set up, our class came out and we evaluated them as well. I was extremely impressed with how much information the kids had retained. It is clear that they have come a long way from when they first started visiting the garden with us. To reward the kids for their hard work and cooperation we shared some of the yummy vegetables with them and finally said our goodbyes. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bountiful Plants!

Today at the Lakewood garden, Lillian and I went for our after noon shift. Lillian watered the plants while I planted some more pineapples.

Here's a picture of the pineapples I've planted over the past year at Lakewood; some of them are getting pretty big.

The carrots are certainly getting bigger, but it appears they need a little more time to grow.

 This is a cluster of ripe yellow beans, ripe and ready for harvest. We were snacking of some of these tasty, slightly sweet treats.

This is a close up of one cluster of tomatillos. They should be ready for harvest soon. They may closely resemble an oversized cocoon, but there’s actually fruit inside these.

Look at that squash! It’s growing so wildly it’s practically touching the pineapple patch/butterfly garden.

The biggest and perhaps the healthiest plant in the garden: the Papaya tree. Planted where the compost used to be, it rocked up to be over 7 feet tall!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Cold Winter Wind Doesn't Stop Our Shine

lovely Fall weather

Today we did the scientific method with both kindergartners and second graders. Before we headed out to the garden to do our experiments, we first asked the students "what do you ever wonder about while in the garden?" As you can see, many of them had a thought for us.


Lilian and Noah helping the kindergartners write down their thoughts 

They had plenty of questions, such as, why do we NEED to have water for the plants to live? or how are flowers made? Their first steps to becoming great scientists!

 The kindergartners have never done the scientific method before so when it came down to business I decided to measure whatever their favorite flower, plant, or leaf might be. While doing so, they seemed to become more interested in whatever bug or flower they admired for its aesthetics  "The Okra flower is so pretty." one student told me. How could I disagree? Of course I just went with it, and implemented it into our experiment. I measured the Okra flower and whatever else they thought was pretty or interesting (except bugs).

Before questioning 

After questioning

Now came the second graders. Our group decided to make the wonder-wall unique this time.

The Scientific method with the second graders was very successful. Before I measured anything, I first asked the students what their predictions might be. "How wide do you think this leaf is?" I would ask, "2 inches," one student said, "no, I think it is 3 inches." another replied back. The leaf ended up being 2 inches, and the student that answered it right felt like a pure genius. Great job I said, then I encouraged the student to measure a different leaf by them self. I also encouraged the other students to measure a leaf, steam or flower by them self. The kids loved measuring and they loved making predictions. They performed like natural born scientists out here in the garden.

Second Grade

My group of students wanted to take a picture. I told them if they performed well I would. Here's the great group of scientists.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Questions and Bugs

Our beautiful garden;
look how green it is!

The lesson for our kids this week concerned the Scientific Method. It was one of the funnest lessons I've been able to do with students.

In my first shift, my kids are kindergartners. They had never been introduced to the scientific method. This was something completely new to them. At least with the other lessons, their teacher had introduced the concepts in their classroom and our lesson in the garden was just to reinforce their classroom learning with application. But here we were, introducing this big, important concept for the first time.

"It's alright, we're scientists!" Diane assured the kids when they and their teacher both expressed concern that the kids had never learned about the scientific method. Diane and I explained to the children that, basically, the scientific method starts with a question. After the question, we observe. I told them that in the garden, we could observe in many ways. Their teacher is a big fan of observing with as many senses as possible, and the kids used their eyes, fingers, and nose to make observations in the garden. I let them touch the papaya fruits growing on the tree. The fruits were milking and the kids had a grand time smelling the sticky, stinky substance.

I directed them to the sunflower beds. "Hey, how tall are those sunflower plants? Let's go find out!" I had a yard stick and held the plant upright next to the measuring stick and asked the kids if they could read to me how tall the plant is. They loved that.

I wrote down the observations and asked them, "Now that we have some observations, how tall do you think these plants will get in the next two weeks?" At this, the kindergartners seemed to lose interest, and dragged me to look at plants with their teacher. I did get predictions for 20 and 50 centimeters of growth, so I jotted that down before following the kids through the garden and throwing questions back and forth with them.


My second shift, I focused on maintaining the garden. Our kids for this shift, also kindergartners, didn't come out, so while we had prepared for them, we didn't get to do this fun lesson with the children.

Marissa, Michelle, Laura, and I still enjoyed ourselves.

It was a hot day. Really hot. Even so, we did our work pretty well, if I say so myself. We weeded and watered, managing not to spray each other with the water to cool down, I may add. We built up the starter dirt pile.

And, in the vein of our prepared lesson, we made our own observations. They mostly had to do with insects.

Assassin bugs were out in force today. I showed them to my friends (I can't call them coworkers).
There were plenty of juveniles of different stages. I've not seen any really mature ones in this garden. That, or they make 'em different down here in Florida (I'm originally from Ohio).

Assassin bug

There were plenty of them; some of them were small and completely red or orange, but most were at the stage of development the one above is exhibiting. I tried to move some over to the okra, which had been getting eaten up. The previous shift, Diane and I had remarked at how many aphids there were on the Okra. 

Eaten up okra leaf

Luckily, we saw plenty of lady bugs on all the plants, so hopefully the aphids will soon be under control.

Ladybug on the okra

Other insects we saw included butterflies, caterpillars, and a bee about 1.5 inches in length! It was the perfect day for bug-watching.

We believe this is a swallowtail caterpillar.

A pollinating butterfly

As a last note, we harvested some beautiful gourds and radishes.

Delicious looking radishes


Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Single Greatest Lesson The Garden Teaches

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. 
-Michael Pollan

Yesterday, as with every Friday, I was driving from our garden at Sanderlin and heading to Lakewood for my mid-day shift there. Though maybe I should stop referring to it as a 'shift', as the word 'shift' seems more appropriate to describe the monotonous clocking into some dreadful job (with stereotypical office punch clock), rather than the excitement I feel walking into prepare for the garden lesson. We started with a bit of maintenance and planting some native plats before getting the lesson ready for our classes. I spent some time watching the bees and pollinating wasps and metallic flies buzzing around the red okra plants and tomatillo shrubs, both of which are quite large and producing lots of flowers and fruit. We had our class of kindergardeners reviewing the water cycle and spent a good amount of time teaching them to water with the watering can, which a few of the kids had said they had never done before. We had a bit of a frenzy going after the watering cans at first, but the kids eventually got the rhythm and were quite good at sharing the watering. After our kindergardeners, we had our second grade class focus on bugs, as they had missed that lesson and really wanted to still do that lesson. So we taught them the categories of beneficial bugs in our garden: Predators, Pollinators, and Decomposers. And we then took them into the garden to find bugs in each of these categories. My group found some ladybugs and orange assassin bugs which are predators of pests like aphids, spotted bees and wasps pollenating the flowers of the tomatillos, and turned of a log to see our favorite decomposer the rolly polly. We also saw some pests, like the melon-worm, which were eating our plants. I talked to the kids a bit about what they thought about us having to kill the melon-worms to keep our plants alive, as I know I am still struggling between the necessity to kill them and my desire to not kill even little green caterpillars. The kids did not seem to share much of my concern for the melon-worms, but at least humored my philosophical conundrum for a bit before running off to go see a giant spider some others had found near the compost. Just before they had to leave, I found a cockroach—another less-loved decomposer— and the kids were both horrified and fascinated that I was letting it crawl on my hand. Then one girl came to me and asked to hold it, and then mischievously ran it to her teacher who was less than enthused about having the cockroach brought to her. Seeing the kids get so excited and connecting to all the parts and processes of the garden, and seeing them learn to cooperate with one another really exemplifies to me why this project is so incredible. These kids really make this time not a 'shift,' but a pleasure and lesson for me as well.

—Noah Schlager

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Harvest Time

Unfortunatly I didnt bring my camera today, so I didnt take any pics, so I hope my words will be enough.
Today was cold, very cold, but the sun was shinning bright and me and Lorel were ready to work. Our first class didnt show up, so we devided to turn the compost until the next class come.
They arrived and we divided them in two groups, one to weed and the other to water and while doing the activities we brought up the various lessons we had taught.
Lorel harvested some okras, peppers and radishs with them and they all had a blast eating it and got a bit greedy to harvest more, so they all went crazy all over the garden looking for something to pick.
"Can I pick this..?" "This looks ready.." "I didnt pick anything..", oh kids. The teacher helped us get them organized again and than thanked us for the lesson saying everyone had a really good time.
We did too.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Childhood Innocense

Today was a beautiful day at the Edible Peace Patch at Lakewood Elementary School. Mara, Laura, Michelle and I have been coming to Lakewood every Monday afternoon since September. We have not had the same class of students consecutively due to the switching of schedules, but today we had the same group of kindergartens as last week. We were all excited to work with the students again and continue getting to know them individually. Last week we introduced ourselves, went over the rules of the garden, walked the students around the garden because this was their first time coming out to the Edible Peace Patch, and went over the water cycle. The children were all very enthusiastic, along with their teacher. They were very excited to learn about the garden and they were impressed with the eggplant and other fruits and vegetables growing in the garden. This week the students only came out for about five minutes. Since we did not have much time with them, we cut open a papaya and showed them what was inside. They took turns touching and holding the papaya. We also showed them okra and they each had a taste of it. Lastly, we cut a melon open and they loved sticking their hands in it to take the seeds out. We also had three unexpected first graders come out to the garden for twenty-five minutes. They were rewarded with twenty-five minutes in the garden due to good behavior. They helped us water the plants and pick weeds. They too were very happy to be apart of the garden. We also showed them the vegetables and let them pick an eggplant to take back to their class. Watching the students get so excited about the garden amazes me. The simple task of holding a vegetable makes them so enthusiastic and feels like they are a part of the Edible Peace Patch.

                                        The eggplant we picked with the students. Yumm!

                                    Students holding the papaya. They were so excited to hold it!

Green pepper looks like its ready to be harvested!

                                                        An interesting insect we found.

It blended itself in with the leaf.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunny Thursday Morning

Thursday was a pretty day with lots of wind, which is the perfect weather for gardening. Lorel and I opened the shed and got the materials for the first class. We reviewed the rules with the kids and the last lesson, I love how all of them are so excited to participate and are always with their little hands up, it makes me happy, since it shows how much they want to be involved with it. After that, we explained the precepitation process and walked with them though the garden, showing all of our growing veggies (something that also makes me really happy).

We had a break until the other class come, so we decided to weed. Weeding, weeding, weeding, isnt it kind of a relaxing process?

Finally, the second class joined us, the teacher of this one is really nice and she enjoys the garden as much as the kids, so she is always helping us and encoraging the kids to participate. As we walked the kids through the garden, she suggested that the kids could make a scarecrow for it, since they were learning about it in school. I love the idea and I think it is really good when we can relate things they are learning in school with what they are learning in the garden.

I mean, one of the best learning experiences for me is when I can relate the things I learn with my life, it is the best way for a subject to stick with someone.
Finally, we waited for our third class, that never showed up, so we continued weeding and then left, with the promise of a next week full of kids and involvement.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Sprouts in the Garden 

      Mondays last shift was getting use to solely working.  Today was our day back spreading seeds in the heads of young kindergarteners.  This group was well engaged as their eyes scanned the garden to seek for answers of the unknown.  Most of the kids were just introduced to all of what the garden contained, and others were able to tell you what was growing where.  Excitement gleamed from them as they questioned everything that crossed their mind.  It was so wonderful to finally see the garden growing with life as the kids watered it with their imaginations. Often they would ask, "can I eat this?" when you would tell them what was growing where.  They couldn't believe that their own school was growing food that they themselves have consumed. 

       The water cycle was the lesson the kids got rooted into their heads today.  It seems that they still have a hard time grasping the natural world because they believe that water either comes from pipes or bathrooms.  We tried to explain to them the most general ideas that we thought they could grasp.  Our fingers made a circle as we talked about the cycle of water.  However, we narrowed our vocabulary to keep their attention.  We were able to reach the fact that water comes from the sky and gives life to the earth before going back through the cycle.  They were surprised when talked about plants breathing too or that water comes in many forms, because they didn't realize that water can be a gas, liquid, or solid.  

      Success was overall reached today as new faces were introduced to the edible peace patch.  The kids are looking forward to the plants growing, while I am looking forward to their knowledge of the environment expanding to a new level.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Little Slice of Heaven

On Thursdays David, Corday and I don't have any kids to teach, but we still very much enjoy our time at the garden. I know for me, its that little slice of heaven in between classes and studying. This past summer I worked on an organic farm in Maine where we spent 40-50 hours a week taking care of the farm. Some days I found it absolutely exhausting.

But here at the peace patch I find it to be a creative outlet, that I sometimes don't get while I'm busy memorizing facts and statistics. On days when I do have kids, being able to share my knowledge of growing food with them is beyond words. I love how enthused they are to learn from my peers and I. I love the questions they ask (even ones like "can we grow dinosaurs?") While I'm teaching them about gardening, they are teaching me to be humble, to laugh, to play games. It's so inspiring to spend time with young students, knowing that they are taking in what I am teaching them, and are applying it to their lives, and hopefully the things we learn together will stay with them throughout the years, because I know it will stay with me.


PS. We have lots of vegetables that are almost ripe at Lakewood, so I took some pictures to share with you!


 Green Pepper

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Creepy, Crawly, CRITTERS!

This dead cockroach was being eaten by many red ants and thus provided a great example of how ants are predators in the garden.
Today was a beautiful day at the Edible Peace Patch. Liz, Julia, and I worked on watering and weeding in the garden before we were surprised by an extra class around 11:30! As a bonus we ended up getting to do a practice lesson with a wonderful group of Kindergarten students. We explained the lesson and then split up into three groups. After briefly reviewing the rules of the garden, Liz, Julia, and I took our groups into the garden and began looking under rocks with the children in our groups. It was wonderful to see the great interest these young girls and boys had in the garden and the creatures which live there! Then, once the bugs were returned and the rocks replaced, the kids went in and my team and I did a little more work in the garden before deciding to work on a well organized lesson plan for the next class. We also collected some grubs and other live bugs to use as examples during the next lesson. Julia and I remembered that this class had been quite hyper in the garden the week prior, so we knew this would be necessary if we hoped to keep their interest. Finally, the class came out and I am happy to say that we were successful in connecting with the kids and teaching them about this other part of gardening. After introducing ourselves again, Julia and Liz reminded them of the rules of the garden. Julia then proceeded to talk about the predators bugs, Liz explained the pollinators role, and then I addressed how decomposers/recycler bugs help the garden as well. I then took out some of the living examples we had collected to show them what to look for and allow them to hold them before we ventured into the garden to find new bugs for themselves. It was wonderful how interested the kids were and it significantly improved their cooperation.
The kids enthusiastically responding to the questions Liz asked about Pollinator bugs!

One of the girls in my group teaming up with her friend to carefully look under some big rocks!