Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Relaxing Friday

This past Friday morning was a little bit cloudy, but very enjoyable. There were no classes in the garden today but there was still a lot to be done. Mack and I both pulled weeds, thinned and mulched the beds during our shift. Some of the radishes that we planted last week began to sprout. I'm very excited to see the students reaction to their growing radishes, I hope they're proud of all their proud of their crops. Next week will also be a great time to review the plant parts using the students radishes. Towards the end of the shift one of the secretaries came out to the garden and harvested some Kohlrabi and mustard greens. It is important to harvest the lettuces before they become bitter. Today was also the first day of the wellness kitchen. I look forward to the Thursday morning meeting to hear about how the wellness kitchen went, and to hear about the future plans of implementing a wellness kitchen program in each school!

Peace and Carrots,


                                                                     Sprouting radishes

Mack mulching

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Peaceful day in the Garden

Today was a quiet and peaceful day at the Lakewood garden. I was excited to see that irrigation had been set up in all of the beds. Very cool! I had planned to water the beds, but saw this was no longer necessary. Thanks to the new irrigation system the beds are going to be looking much tidier, since we will be able to spend more time weeding.

I noticed that the radishes the students planted last week have sprouted. They will be excited to see their plants growing when they come out to the garden.
Baby Radishes

The tomatoes are starting to ripen. The squash and the okra are flowering. All the lettuces are full grown.
Ripening Tomato. Our leaves may not change
colors in the fall but at least our tomatoes do!

I spotted a small metallic green bee collecting pollen from the mustard greens' flowers. She was very entertaining to watch as she pressed pollen into her pollen sacks.
Augochlora sweat bee. A native bee collecting pollen from the mustard greens.

Besides the bee, I saw many lady bugs on the leaves of our veggies, and butterflies fluttering around in the pollinator garden. Although classes did not come out today, I had a good time tending to the plants.

-Lilian Gonzalez

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Heroes -- PART IV: Rob Hoogeveen.

Just by chance during our last Garden Volunteer Day in October, David Brett, husband of our Board Vice Chair, Kristin Brett, decided to call a guy he knew who installed irrigation.  "He's a great guy," David told me.

Today I arrived at Lakewood and there were trucks lining the road.

Rob Hoogeveen is not only a nice guy, and one of our first ten Founder's Fund contributors, he arranged for the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Florida Irrigation Society to provide the donation of irrigation systems to our schoolyard gardens.

When I walked into the garden, there was irrigation tubing everywhere in the beds.  Rob was hard at work creating a three-zone system.

He told he arrived at the school at 7:15 and the HPO, who just happened to be driving by on a motorcycle, let him in the gate (we didn't arrive until 8:00 a.m. as planned).

Every bed got its own irrigation system, tubing and extender sprays.  Misting water that will saturate our soil and irrigate our plants.

Here's Rob and Lisa Yacso, posing with our sign at Lakewood at the end of the day.

 The lettuce will be delighted.  Water will be better conserved.  And our work is made lighter.  The biggest job and most time consuming work had now been automated.

Rob installed a timer and rain sensor and if you're in need of an irrigation system for your house or garden, I know a really nice guy you should call.

Thanks, Rob!  You're a real hero!

Kip Curtis, Ph.D.
Founder and Executive Director

A Very Busy Friday!

Friday was a very busy day in the garden for the 3rd and 4th graders! We started off the day by planting radishes in one of the amended beds that had yet to be planted. The Lakewood garden had yet to have any radishes planted yet, and since radishes grow so quickly, we decided to plant some. In the next few weeks they will hopefully sprout and can be harvested before winter break. Next, we continued on with the bug hunt and pollinators lesson since we could incorporate the native plants into the lesson as well. We had a quick but vibrant talk about bugs and pollinators and then were off to explore the garden and hunt for bugs. I was stationed at the mulch pile and look for decomposers. In the mulch pile we found tons of rollie-pollies and cockroaches. At the end of the day, we wrapped up by watering all the plants and of course have a another spicy mustard lettuce contest. Once again, I lost. Maybe next week. I am excited for the next few weeks because all the vegetables are coming in quite healthy and its almost time to harvest!

Peace and Carrots,


Planting radishes 

Watering the garden 

                                                 Searching for pollinators on the bug hunt

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Day of Gardening with our 3rd Graders

            Today was a productive and cheerful day at the Lakewood garden. Manuela, Kaycie, and I arrived at the garden this morning and ran into Jonathan who was working on watering the beds. I noticed the squash plants in three of the beds were very sickly. We investigated and found that they had been infected by tons of melon worms! We decided to pull the dying squash out of the beds with the students. We set up a station with gloves to pull out the spiky stemmed squash, seeds to sow in the beds that we clear, and watering cans to water these beds. 

                The students did a wonderful job at helping us pull out the squash. We found many little squash, which we allowed them to take home. Some students got a bit too excited and picked other vegetables that weren't ready to be harvested. Donavon pulled off a tomato that was not yet ripe. 
Fried green tomatoes then!

               My group sowed radish seeds in one of the beds. The students are excited to come back and see if their seeds have sprouted next week.

P.S I was excited to see that the okra we transplanted last week made it! Okra is definitely going on my hardy plants list!

-Lilian Gonzalez

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Plentiful Harvest

Look at how big the papayas are getting. That's my hand!
My pineapple plants are as big as I've ever seen them.
That bok choy looks good enough to throw into pot for cooking.
Those tomato plants look pretty lush and healthy.
I spy an eggplant that is almost ripe for picking.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Third and Fourth Grade Finally in the Garden!

Hello all!

This past Friday on November 1st, 2013, Third and Fourth grade finally made it out the garden! This was the first time that the Friday early morning shift comprised of myself, Lilian and Kasey, taught students at Lakewood for the Fall 2013 season. We were all very excited to finally be working with students as we had looked forward to this day since the beginning of September. Most of the students, from both grades, had experience in the garden from years past. When the students first arrived in the garden I was worried about not being able to complete the entire curriculum for the season because we did not receive students till so late. Much to my surprise, the students had remembered a lot from past years! In the fourth grade group we covered everything up until pollinators which I was extremely impressed by. Hopefully next week we will have the students caught up with the curriculum. One of my favorite parts of the day was going around with the students and tasting the different types of lettuces and herbs. I had never tasted spicy mustard lettuce before, and OH MY, it was spicy!! My group of Fourth grade boys began to laugh when I teared up from the spiciness, but then soon understood my pain as they ate some of the lettuce. Next week I look forward to working with the students and trying new vegetables again, but hopefully not as spicy as the spicy mustard lettuce.

Peace and Carrots,

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Happy Lookin' Garden!

This morning Manuela, Kasey, and I met at the Lakewood garden to do some maintenance work to help keep the plants healthy and happy. The plants in the beds are almost full grown. The bok choy is my favorite!
bok choy

Kasey watered all of the beds. Manuela and I weeded the garden and also thinned some of the okra in one of the beds, which was looking pretty crowded. The greens seem to have enjoyed those few days of cooler weather last week, they sure look good! The lettuces, mustard greens, and arugula are ready to be harvested.

 I love starting off the day working in the garden amongst fellow peers. No kids today, but I look forward to seeing their expressions when they see how much the plants have grown next time!

-Lilian Gonzalez

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Introducing the Garden

Today two classes came out to the Lakewood garden. Kasey, Manuela, and I were excited to meet them and introduce them to the garden. The vegetables have been growing rapidly and there was lots to show the students.

The first class that came out was a third grade class with many enthusiastic students. They were not shy upon meeting us whatsoever! Immediately they began to ask questions about the different fruits and vegetables that we are growing this season. The students were particularly excited about the papaya trees and the lettuce growing in the beds. They tasted the different varieties of lettuce. The class was very sweet and energetic, We look forward to seeing them next Wednesday!

The second class that came out was a fourth grade class with few students. This class was very inquisitive, and creative! We explored each bed thoroughly and drew analyses between the characteristics of different plant species. All the students in this class now know how to spot out tomatoes at different stages of their development. They learned several distinct characteristics of tomatoes, such as their fuzzy stem, small yellow flowers, and pale green fuzzy leaves. One student observed that the tomato leaves smell like celery! They totally do! I had never realized this before.

At the end of both classes, we gave each student a small squash to take home. They were very excited to go home and show their parents and siblings. I am looking forward to teaching these classes more about gardening next week!

-Lilian Gonzalez

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Fruitful Day in the Garden!

This morning at Lakewood Amy Mautz and I did some maintenance work in the garden. The squash beds have been growing vigorously these past few weeks. They are doing so well in fact that they have covered several areas of the walkway. It had grown over the small crape myrtle, the tomatoes in the beds, the eggplant, and was going for the papaya tree! I have never seen such copious squash.

 Amy and I decided to cut back some of the squash in order to save our crops and reclaim our walkway. As Amy aptly put it "We showed the squash who's boss." We also transplanted a tomato plant in one of the squash beds into the bed with the other tomato. I think it's chances will be better there.

We also cleared some of the squash around the eggplant. From the parts of the squash plant that we cut back we were able to collect many baby squash.
They are currently in the garden shed. I think the kids at lakewood would love them! Today was successful day! The garden is looking great.

-Lilian Gonzalez

Friday, September 6, 2013

School Yard Garden Program 2013-2014 IS UNDERWAY!

For the fifth year in a row, Labor Day comes and we set to work in our schoolyard gardens.  As tradition has it, the past few years, these beginnings start with undergraduate volunteers early in the morning, attending a meeting about teaching and farming.

This year we began with the story of the Lakewood Garden (since we started here) and shared with a new class of students the story of our origins and some of the vision that has grown out of that original experiment.

Volunteers learned about huegelkultur and compost and pineapples and natives and soon their brains were swimming with plant names and growing strategies that they could only barely imagine.

As is tradition, we began pulling the endless growth of sedge, torpedo grass, that loves our beds and seeks every piece of open ground.

This year we began a new tradition, as well.  I had student volunteers each take a starter pot and fill it to the top with dirt.

Back at the shaded picnic table, volunteers had their selection of seeds and each of them chose something to plant, encouraged to read the instruction on the seed packet and place only one seed in the hole.  We watered the starter pots and everyone took one home.

Each volunteer is charged with tending to their seeds until next week, when they will bring them back to garden for our second meeting.  How many will sprout?  We wait.

As always, I am deeply grateful for the ongoing support of this program by community and college volunteers and, this semester, including the course being taught by Dr. Erika Spohrer at Eckerd College.

The growing season is upon us.

Kip Curtis
Founder and Executive Director
The Edible Peace Patch Project

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fall 2013 HERE WE COME!

Friday afternoon 8/23, for the fifth time since 2009, local college freshmen volunteered to help open the Lakewood Peace Patch Garden.  We had fifteen volunteers who turned our solarized summer garden:

into a planting-ready fall garden:

Our soils appear rich and we enhanced their growing power by amending all of the beds with compost that had cooked all year long.  The plastic had to be folded and stored.  In places, the plastic had blown free and so we had several thick stands of grass to remove (although nothing like years past).  Once everything was cleaned up, the students got a chance to put some starters int the ground.

We planted chives, heirloom tomatoes, and parsley.

The large plants is oregano, a healthy stand.  Kenny's Lawn and Landscape Service was kind enough to sell us a bunch of herbs wholesale and we got them right in the ground..

We also planted red sweet peppers and two other varieties of heirloom tomato.  They watered and everyone said goodbye. 

We are thrilled to be starting a new season.  In the next two week we will begin to have our college and community volunteers offering the academic mentoring and garden educational lessons in all four schools. This year, we also add a wellness kitchen in some locations.

Stay tuned!

Kip Curtis, Ph.D.
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Harvest Festival 2013!

For the fifth year in a row, we hosted the annual Peace Patch Project Schoolyard Gardens Harvest Festival.  We rented space at the Enoch Davis Recreation Center at 1111 18th Avenue South.

Board member Chelley Tighe sets up our outdoor live music cafe

The space was full of light and perfect for the occasion.  In years past, we have held individual harvest festivals at each of school where we grow gardens.  This year, with four schools, we decided to hold the harvest dinner at a single location.

Alix Brett, Robin Gipson, and Chelley set up the tables with lovely lime green table cloths.

Slowly after 6:15, families, teachers, and community members began to trickle into the auditorium, while Eckerd College student volunteers put final touches on their dishes in the nearby kitchen.

Before we knew it, a line stretched to the door, as kids and families and others waited to get a sampling of the Peace Patch Harvest.

Local musician, Jun Bustamante (left), played acoustic guitar in the Cafe.  Board members Joe Esposito (center) and Andrew Chittick (right) shmoozed with the talent before the show.

By 6:30, table were filling up and the auditorium was filling with the joyous noise of feasting people.

Volunteer teens from the Carerra After-School Program dropped by and helped serve some food.

Muhammed, Daisha, Cameron, Meoshea, Christon, Zion, Freeman, and in front,  Martin.

We raffled ten plants including this corn.

Founder and Executive Director, Kip Curtis, with the lucky winner of a corn plant.

After the food was devoured and the prizes given out, student volunteers and volunteers from Missio Dei helped clean up the dishes, straighten the kitchen, and put the hall back in shape.

It was a lovely evening and a fine ending to another successful semester.