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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Monday, Classes Start!

Second shift at Lakewood (11:00 – 1:00). We had 30 minutes until Ms. Barlow’s kindergarten students arrived! John, Mara, and I huddled and discussed our strategy and how we would split up and lead the 20 minutes of class time. We decided that John would do the introduction, Mara the garden rules, and I would assign students to group leaders. Great! Let’s go!

We heard them before we saw them; the students had just returned from lunch and were extremely excited to get out and meet the “garden people”. Ms. Barlow quieted them inside the school gate. She was calm but uncompromising, “Everyone pay attention and put on their listening ears before we go outside”. Sufficiently satisfied with their calmness she opened the door. Out they came, “bubbles and tail feathers”, which means lips pursed and cheeks puffed, and hands behind their backs with fingers spread like goldfish tail fins! We guided them to the shade of the live oak tree and arranged them in a row, cross legged on the sidewalk.

“WELCOME to the EDIBLE PEACE PATCH!”, John boomed with so much enthusiasm that I thought Willy Wonka had entered the schoolyard! Mara and I were startled by John’s dynamic introduction and the whole class sat up a little straighter. John did a fantastic job introducing the project and then Mara followed up with the garden rules discussion. The kindergarteners all had suggestions for rules with many versions of “No hitting, kicking, biting, taking things from each other, etc.” Mara reinforced the rule that students were not to step onto the garden beds less they damage some of the young seedlings coming up. After the rules discussion, I explain how each of them would be assigned to one of us as their “Garden Leader”. Unfortunately, time passed quickly. Group assignments and a first garden tour would have to be accomplished next time we met. “Farwell Ms. Barlow’s class! We will see you next week! Have a wonderful and productive week!”, we beckoned to them. The students followed Ms. Barlow to their next endeavor. Some of them called out their names to us as they passed by; eager to meet us again. Overall it was a great first meeting!

After the students left we dug into maintenance including clearing of the grass off the dirt pile. This proved to be a very hot and dusty job with LOTS of spiders, beetles, and other bugs were found living in the dirt pile (including an awesome squiggly cool purple millipede). I opted for the “gonzo approach” to clear the grasses. Using a shovel to dig around the weed covered pile, I tossed shovelfuls of dirt and grasses back to the top of the pile letting the weeds and their root balls tumble down and expose themselves for the culling. I found this to work really well. Mara, perfected what she calls “twirling the spaghetti” a technique she uses to remove all the pesky white root stems without breaking them and the brown spidery root bulbs of the sedges. Great progress was made on the dirt pile!

Ms. Diane

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