Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy Hug Day!

Gorgeous Okra Flower! 

Today was a scorcher out in the garden at Lakewood! As usual Julia, Emily, and I, began our shift by wandering around the garden and looking at the changes from the week before. It was a bittersweet day because it was the last time we will be seeing our classes for the school year, so it was sad to say goodbye but we had a great time hearing about the kids favorite memories from the garden. Both classes came to the conclusion that picking and eating the green beans was by far the greatest experience, but searching for bugs was a close second!

Julia Hard at work..
 We drilled the information regarding the harvest festival into their heads and they were all extremely excited about getting the opportunity to share the garden with their families (and the food)! We told our second graders that we would be cooking for them, one of our feistier girls replied “Good. As it should be!” Not sure what to think about that, but i'm looking forward to it either way. We had some great conversations about favorite foods, snacks, and what everyone was hoping would be at the feast. We were also able to send our classes away with some green bell peppers, some sweet peppers, and some tiny yellow grape tomatoes.
Tiny Tomatoes were a big hit! Radishes, not so much.

 It was sad to say goodbye, with lots of hugs and well wishes, but it is obvious that these kids have grown a lot over the past few months, and I know us volunteers have as well, and that is something I am truly thankful for.
Can you believe our corn is growing??

Happy Planting!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Small Lakewood Wonders

Our day at Lakewood began with walking into the garden and admiring all the growth that has come up within the past few weeks. Neither Liz nor I have been able to make it to Lakewood in a little while, so we were awestruck with the greenery. 

We were particularly amazed at the size of the corn stalks, and even more impressed that we have actual corn growing

Our first grade class came out right on time and they were very excited with the bug lesson. It is seldom in the children’s curriculum that they are told they may dig in the dirt and catch a bug, so we got a lot of enthusiasm and participation from them. 

By the end of our lesson the kids became familiar with identifying the bugs as predators, pollinators, or decomposers. They were also extremely enthused with the growth of the vegetables, begging us to let them take all the baby cucumbers. When we explained to them that we have to let the plants grow bigger before harvesting, one of the girls protested that the cucumbers would go perfectly on her salad. It was music to our ears to hear that a child of her age was even at all interested in eating salads, let alone actively thinking about what to add to them to make them even healthier. 

It is moments like these that make you truly believe that this garden is having an impact on the children’s lives, no matter how small. Whether they become interested in gardening themselves, or simply adding cucumbers to their salads, the garden has become a fixture in their education and a lasting memory of their childhood.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Harmony in the Garden


As the school year is coming to an end and academic work is winding down, the Edible Peace Patch is gearing up for an exciting last couple weeks in the gardens! With the Harvest Festival scheduled for May 8th, there is now a very real end to this very unique experience. As students teaching other students, it was incredible to see both volunteers and child participants transform into self-sustaining educators. This was most evident in this week's lesson: bugs!

Typically the children at Lakewood Elementary School can be a difficult group to manage. The kids sometimes tend to venture on their own throughout the garden in search of 'cool' plants and bugs, which I fully support, but poses as a challenge when teaching a lesson to a whole class. Nonetheless, fortunately for us and the kids, this week's lesson left everyone in high spirits. The lesson was focused on bugs, particularly the different roles bugs play in the garden, which also involved a scavenger hunt. After a quick overview of this week's topic, the kids were on the hunt! Giddy with excitement, the kids navigated the garden with a certain familiarity; a calm came over the garden. It was truly great, since the kids were allowed to fulfill their deepest desire, to get dirty and play with bugs, while we were able to actually teach the lesson fully. Although a long period of time passed before we could reach this kind of harmony between teachers and students in the garden, it was well worth it. There is no greater reward than to experience achieving one's maximum potential, not only in the children, but in us as well.

1.A Lady Bug: Predator: eat bugs such as aphids and caterpillars that hurt the plants.
2. Rolly Pollies: Recycler: break down organic matter into recycled fertilizer for the garden.
3. Bees: Pollinator: pollinate flowers, which is essential to plant reproduction. 

Paul M Amsel

Harvest Fest, here we come!

It was a beautiful and sunny day at the Lakewood Peace Patch as Liz, Breege, Olivia, and I rolled up for our maintenance shift at 11:00. Robin greeted us with a few small things to do besides watering, such as sorting out old seed packets from newer ones and weeding some of the beds. It had been 2 weeks since the four of us were last at Lakewood, as we helped chop bamboo down for bed material last week instead of going to our usual shift at the garden. As we walked around, we were surprised at the little changes we noticed hidden throughout the garden. When we stuck our faces into the beautiful crop of corn shooting up in the three sisters bed we were surprised to see some of the beans climbing up the corn stalks. Lakewood is the only school that I have noticed the plants in the three sisters bed actually working together like they are supposed to! It was an incredible sight of commensalism and harmony between plants.
Can you see the bean plant climbing up the corn?

I must have not been paying much attention to the pineapples the last couple weeks, because my breath was literally taken away when I saw the new baby ones sprouting up from the tops of the parent pineapples. You teach the kids all about the time and the energy the plants invest to produce one pineapple fruit, and to see the progress before your own eyes is amazing.

Little babe!

When I look around at all of the vibrant vegetation pouring out of the beds I become more and more excited for the Harvest Festival. I am assigned to be at Lakewood for the half hour period before the festival and I am really looking forward to seeing the kids show the garden off to the parents. Its success is a product of their hard work, curiosity, and passion, and I have been so lucky to be apart of that this semester.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Things are growing, FAST!!!!

Today was another beautiful day in the garden. It was in the mid 80's and not a cloud in the sky. A lot of was done in the garden today, from maintenance to teaching! Andrea and I started the day by meeting to Eckerd PEL students who were tending to the compost and measuring to build new bed frames.
The beds unfortunately have been under the stress of the Florida sun and rain so a revamping of them is highly needed!! Because it was so hot today Andrea and I took an extra while watering the newly built up compost, the native plants, and the produce growing in the beds.
Around fifteen until Noon Ms.Barlow's Pre-K came out to learn about seasons!!! Off the bat they knew that plants needed plenty of sunlight, healthy (preferably organic!) soil, and lots of water. After having a brief discussion about how Florida really only has two seasons (wet and dry), we went into the garden and had the kids try to identify what plants need more water and longer to grow. As per usual as we were walking through the garden the kids noticed how large the plants have grown over the past couple weeks!
Baby Pineapples!
Baby Bell Peppers!
The kids as well as Andrea and myself were amazed even from only one week how much things have grown. It was a great day in the garden both for the plants and Ms.Barlow's class! Unfortunately, it went by way too fast. Until next week baby pineapples.
Gracie Van Huffel

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

 April 15 2013.
The summer squash at Lakewood elementary school have grown huge. We had two classes out in the garden today. The children where very excited to see how large the food had become. One squash was over a foot long, so we let the second class take the squash back to their classroom.

 The cucumbers are growing big as well, but have not and probably will not reach the same size as the squash.

The corn is almost four feet tall now. It is amazing to see corn grow so well in this little local garden. It is very important for the children to be around corn due to its controversial presence in the United States regarding it as the number one cash crop and also its use as fuel.

The image on the right is a baby pineapple that is just starting to grow. Pineapples grow very slowly, so now that we see them in the garden it is very exciting.
We taught the children about the different seasons today and which plants grow in which season. This lesson can get slightly complicated to teach in Florida because the weather does not change that much from season to season. To teach this lesson we had the children draw different plants from the different seasons. We also walked around the garden to see the giant squash and talk about the plants that were producing a lot of food right now. It is always rewarding to see how excited the kids get about the lesson. They really try hard to learn and participate in the activities. It is wonderful that the children get to have a small portion of their class outside in the fresh air and
warm sun. Few things smell better or feel finer then
a garden right after it has been watered with the
sunlight glowing on the plants allowing them to

Professor Curtis came out to the garden today and spoke to the kids about the garden as well as reminded them of the importance of compost.

By Lia Nydes

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Giant Roses, Garden Hoses!

Happy Friday from the Lakewood Peace Patch! Today we were supposed to finish up the week with our 'water' lesson, but unfortunately only one of our classes came out, and they only had 10 minutes to spare, so we spent the time exploring all the gorgeous beds. I had a great discussion with some first graders about how the cabbage plants look just like giant roses, it's so interesting to watch them slowly fold themselves into individual heads!

Cabbage 'roses"
The air was sticky and the temperatures were high but we stuck it out and did a lot of weeding! The plants are looking wonderful, and it looks like they'll be getting some much needed rain this weekend, as one of our kids said “no need to water today I bet, it's totally going to rain, and that's just like, like a bazzillion water hoses.. in the sky!” The corn is as tall as i've seen it in Florida, lots of squash, peppers, peas, and greens are growing, and we're starting to see some tomatoes and more pineapple blooms, even the okra is making an appearance!

 The spring has totally constructed a new image for our garden, it looks so different than it did even a few weeks ago! With that said, the kids are very excited and even the students that don't come out to garden have been asking about the Harvest Festival, still a few weeks away, but definitely an event to look forward to, everyone is getting very excited!!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend,
Liz Donkersloot

Pineapple update!!