Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Garden Workday

On Saturday November 15th, volunteers gathered at Lakewood Elementary school to tackle some large projects in the garden.  A special thank you to the Junior League of St. Petersburg for lending a helping hand this service day!

It was a lovely morning to work in the garden and we were all kept busy with a variety of different tasks.  Weeds were pulled, dying plants were removed to make room for new seeds and seedlings, and fresh soil from the compost pile was sifted onto the beds.  While weeding, we found a large cricket peeking out from under the mustard greens.

The smallest snake found in Florida also made an appearance!  It's believe that these little snakes were brought to the United States from Southeast Asia in potted plants.  They are similar in size and shape to an earthworm, with the main distinguishing feature being their lack segmentation.

Brahminy Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)

In addition to cleaning up the beds, another large task accomplished was the painting of signs to mark the location of the wide variety of plants found in the garden.  Okra, bok choy, rapini, onion, margiolds, beets, brussel sprouts, chives, kale, corn, basil...


As the service day wound down, it was evident how much effort had been put in by all the volunteers.  Even in such a short amount of time the garden looked completely rejuvenated - it will be exciting to watch the newly planted seeds grow over the next couple weeks!

- Colleen

Friday, November 7, 2014

Volunteering in the garden has been quite the learning experience. I have never been around first graders before, so actually teaching them has been challenging! My partners and I have strategized many times on how to keep the kids attention but today, we learned, freeing up the reigns makes for the best learning. The kids play scientist as they ‘walk’ around the garden observing. They love seeing how much the green beans, papayas, and their seedlings were growing. And they always have time to hunt for the friendly bugs of the garden. When things got a little crazy, the journals are a handy tool to get them to regroup and draw pictures of what they observed and write the questions they have. At the end of the lesson, I had my group draw pictures of themselves as superheroes working in the garden and share with the group. Seeing one boy, who at the beginning did not want to participate, stand up proudly to show himself flying over the garden in his special watering suit to help the plants grow was such a cool moment. Volunteering with these kids has not been clean or organized. Instead, it has turned out to be so much fun and the best morning in the kid’s and my week. Check out the kids' favorite garden things below!

Andrea and her scientists

Garden is so beautiful and full of life

The seedlings the kids planted are growing!!!!

The forbidden papaya tree.

The kids loved trying the green beans

Favorite activity- catching these bugs under the rocks

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lakewood Elementary Service Day!


Join us in spending the morning in our Lakewood Elementary schoolyard garden. The Junior League of St. Pete will be lending a big helping hand for this Service Day!
Saturday November 15th 2014 9AM-1PM
We take this time to catch up on garden maintenance and to finish larger projects so that our gardens are ready for the students who come out weekly to learn and explore.
Morning refreshments are provided.
Bring along your family, friends, and your gardening tools!
p.s. Bring along your compost-ables to donate to our compost bins(veggie and fruit scraps, oak leaves, coffee grounds, tea bags, BUT NO MEAT or DAIRY, please)!
Visit peacepatch.org for more info about our project.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Keep an eye out for the addition of November and December service days!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Meditations on Weeding

It was a beautiful day out in the Lakewood garden, but sadly our class was unable to attend. So, the five of us took advantage of the peace and decided to focus our energies on weeding the beds. Honestly, it is a shame I did not think to take before and after photos, because the transformation was impressive. I also get a little ping in my heart when I acknowledge the fact that by next week at least half our tenacious efforts will have disappeared under those even more tenacious weeds.

I have always found the action of weeding to be quite meditative, and I'm finding more and more how symbolically significant the action can be as well. We spend our time pulling out those seemingly endless seas of sedge and torpedo grass only to find the next week that they have returned in full force. A garden is ever in transition, constantly growing both the desirable and undesirable (although at times it feels like those tiny tomatoes will never be able to overcome those weeds). However, as gardeners, it is our duty to get out there every day and care for the plants and the space we have designated for them, no matter how daunting those weeds may appear. It is difficult to then not make the mental jump and see this ongoing process as a metaphor for our day-in, day-out battles we each face throughout life. We just have to keep chugging along, pulling away at those stubborn weeds, and hope we remember to look up and appreciate the flowers.

Get out there and start your weeding!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

First Time For Everything

Thursday October 9, 2014

As a social worker and mental health counselor my mind is usually focused on the human condition, not the world of plants. There is something perhaps metaphorical or analogous about seemingly endless life lessons that a garden provides or makes explicit for us. A garden strikes me as a potent ground zero for new beginnings or 'firsts.' For example today marked the first time for me as an official Edible Peace Patch volunteer. Additionally it was also my first time being in a position of teaching children. And ironically, the children I was teaching were first graders! It was also my first time teaching anyone about gardens, seeds, nature, much less teaching outdoors.

The children were excited, eager, and yes, energetic!! As I taught them the lesson plan    "The Magic of Seeds" and what seeds need ( water, sunlight, nutrients, soil) and "The Potential of Seeds" (my own spin on this lesson)  I could not help but notice the sparking energy of the many 'firsts' crackling around me. In simultaneous fashion there was the budding 'first' of a new fall season at Lakewood Elementary School Garden, the buzzing 'first' of intrepid schoolchildren embarking on the first year of what I hope will be a rich and rewarding relationship with learning and the bemusing 'first' cropping up in my own life as well. I can still experience new firsts in my life, even at age 50. How rejuvenating! We are never to old to learn and grow.

May the newness and regenerative powers of first times and new beginnings stay with us always. The garden shows us the way.

Laura Clarke

Friday, May 23, 2014

Edible Peace Patch Featured Plant No 1: Powerhouse Papaya

Welcome to the first posting in a series I'll call the 
Edible Peace Patch Featured Plant. 
The first featured plant is one that can be found in many of our schoolyard gardens and is a consistent favorite among the children: 
Carica papaya

C. papaya is a plant-like tree that grows to be 5-10 meters (16 to 30 feet) tall. The leaves are deeply palmately lobed with 7 lobes and grow to be almost 2 ft long. It's leaves drop easily, leaving the characteristic leaf scars along the truck. The flowers are a waxy white and have 5 petals. The fruit is usually between 6 and 18 inches long, has rosy or yellow flesh, and dozens of slimy black seeds in the center. The fruit is ripe when it is soft to the touch and has an orange hue. 

Female flowers of the papaya. Papayas are naturally dioecious, meaning there are separate male and female trees. However, they can change gender quickly depending on environmental factors. This one's a female tree...for now.

Male flowers of the papaya. This ones the male, so pollen will be taken from these flowers to the female flowers, which will then develop into papaya fruits.

Growing conditions:
Papayas grow in frost-free climates, need lots of sunlight, water and nutrient-rich soil. They grow easily from seed, but don't transplant well. If you want to plant one from seed, try making a modified hugelkultur bed like those in our gardens and planting the seeds directly into the ground. Thin the weaker trees out as they grow. For more info on how to grow papayas, check this permaculture site out.
Below is a papaya at our Maximo peace patch:

The papaya plant's original home range stretches from southern Mexico into northern South America, but it is now grown in tropical regions around the world. The papaya ranks 3rd in total tropical fruit production worldwide (15.36% of the market) behind mango and pineapple (another favorite of our students).

What's so special?
For one, the tree's rapid, measurable growth makes it a go-to when discussing the plant life cycle with students. It's easy to find a plant with flowers, unripe, and ripe fruit all on the same tree. This also comes in handy when we teach the children about the parts of the plant, the role of flowers, and pollination.

Papayas are particularly nutritious, too. Besides being high in fiber and minerals, it is a wonderful source of the B vitamins and antioxidants including carotenes, vitamin C, and flavonoids. It's also a great source of the digestive enzyme papain, a molecule that's been isolated and used industrially for brewing, meat tenderizing, pharmaceuticals, and beauty products. That's right, ladies, you can slather mashed papaya on your face for an easy, rejuvenating facial.

You can eat the ripe fruit alone, in salads, or smoothies. The unripe fruit can be eaten raw (like in Thai papaya salad) or cooked. The young leaves can be steamed and eaten like spinach, and some cultures use the flowers in their cuisine. The seeds can be eaten, too, and are sometimes used as a substitute for black peper.

Personal notes: The high enzyme content makes papaya fruits ripen rather quickly, so grab a fresh papaya only if you're prepared to use it in less than a week. Also, I'll be honest, the fruit smells slightly like feet to me, and I've found the only way I can really enjoy eating papaya raw (besides in smoothies) is by smothering fresh slices in lime or lemon juice and sprinkling with salt.

I hope you've learned a little something about this powerhouse fruit growing in our gardens. 
Stay tuned for the Featured Plant No 2: Pineapple!

Garden Program Coordinator

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Last Week of Spring Garden Education


This week is the final week volunteers are out in the Peace Patch schoolyard gardens teaching students. 
The lesson is a continuation of last week's--measuring changes in the garden plants. We started last week by getting the students to ask questions about the garden. This week we looked for answers to the questions by observing changes in the plants, and we said our goodbyes and harvested food.

What will happen to this? 
It will become corn!

What is this? 
A papaya!

How much will this grow? 
A few weeks ago this was only the size of a marble. 

Asking questions is the first step in the scientific method and arguably the most important aspect of science itself. Many people mistake science as a search for answers. Nothing is ever proven right in science...theories are only proven incorrect or insufficient. We must retain our childlike curiosity so that we can continue to ask the right questions at the right times, and so that we may learn more about ourselves in the process.

I am grateful for having the chance to teach the students at Lakewood Elementary this semester because it has reminded me to nurture the childlike excitement that arises when I see a new bud on our squash plants, find a mysterious insect on the tomato, or try my first bite of a new vegetable. It's reminded me why I am both a child and a scientist at heart. 

Until next semester, 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Join Harvest Festival 2014!

Spring 2014 Harvest Festival

Thursday, April 24th, 2014
4 – 6 pm
Between 3 & 5 pm, visit the Peace Patch Gardens at:
Campbell Park / Fairmount Park / Lakewood / Maximo / Melrose / Sanderlin

Then join us for a free
4 – 6 pm


The Enoch Davis Recreation Center
1111 18th Avenue S., St. Petersburg

See you there!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Join Our Earth Day Workday

The Edible Peace Patch Project
invites you to join our
Earth Day Garden Workday
Saturday, April 19th
9 am - 1 pm

We'll be meeting at Campbell Park Elementary, 
1051 7th Avenue South, St. Pete, 33705

Morning refreshments will be provided.
Bring along your family and your gardening tools!

See you there!

Photo of mushroom at Campbell Park Elementary Peace Patch by Noah Schlager

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring has sprung...and so has the pollen.

Hi folks, 

After a rainy spring break week, we are back in the garden. It's amazing how much it had changed in such a short period. The main development: flowers. Flowers on the tomato plants, flowers on the dill, flowers on the weeds. It seems like everything is blooming save the lettuce and kale. No wonder I've been sneezing like crazy.

Coral Honeysuckle

This is convenient because the lesson this week in the peace patch gardens is all about pollination

Sam, Kaitlin, Cory and I had a group of Pre-K students out in the garden this afternoon. We taught them all about pollination, showed them examples of pollinators (bees, butterflies, etc.), and we picked flowers, of course. Unfortunately, I was too carried away picking apart flowers with the kids to remember to take pictures of all of us...but I did get some snapshots of what's blooming:
Female flowers of the papaya. Papayas are naturally dioecious, meaning there are separate male and female trees. However, they can change gender quickly depending on environmental factors. This one's a female tree...for now.
Male flowers of the papaya. This ones the male, so pollen will be taken from these flowers to the female flowers, which will then develop into papaya fruits.

Green onions. This is the beginning of a classic, round allium blossom. 

Eggplant flower and young fruit, the product of successful fertilization.
Tomato flowers. A lot of nightshades (ex: tomatillos, eggplants, potatoes, peppers) have this flower shape.
Wood sorrel. You can't forget the weeds--they attract pollinators, too! Sorrel doesn't taste half bad, either.
Beach or dune sunflower.
Until next time, 
ponder over a flower or two.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The seeds that we all planted a few weeks ago are coming along very nicely! The recent rain is making them so happy :)
Little cucumber seedlings above.

Here are corn seedlings in the Three Sisters bed, soon to have other seeds planted!

Today we had the great opportunity to have some Lakewood High School students come out to interview and film us in the garden with the kids. 

The lesson plan today was about the parts of a plant. Hank, Avery, Wes, and I had a big group of kindergartners and they were really excited to learn, especially about flowers and fruits.
Avery teaching about the roots of a plant.

The kids were very intrigued about the baby pineapples growing on the plants!

I think the papayas were the favorite of the boys :)

Can't wait to see the progress next week!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patty's Day!

'Tis a rainy day in the Peace Patch. Great for our beds, unfortunate for the kids who can't come out today. Last week, Deb and I met our kindergarten/first graders and introduced them to the garden and explained a bit about weeding. We showed them examples we had picked, Spanish Needle and Sedge, and explained why weeding is important.

Plenty 'o green in the garden- no shamrocks though! Here are a few pics taken last week:

                                                       Papaya blossoms

Look at that pineapple bed- at least 4 are starting to fruit! That was a big hit with the kids, I think. It's very hard not to wanna grab that beautiful fruit.

I am looking forward to spending more time in the garden with the kids and learning more about the plants and gardening myself. Enjoy your day!

Monday, March 3, 2014

An afternoon in the garden

Howdy veggie-lovers, 

Today Sam, Cory, Kaitlin and I spent some time weeding the Lakewood peace patch and getting organized for the spring semester and the classes to come. 

Here is Sam making some adjustments to the garden map:

 Some purple kohlrabi we thinned last week. Mmm...I love kohlrabi:

Kaitlin worked hard at weeding the beds. 
We put the weeds that hadn't gone to seed into the compost pile.

And Sam acted as a scarecrow? Cory seems unfazed.

Lastly, the nasturtiums are still kicking.
I've been picking them to add a little zest and ornament to my salads.
I can't wait until the students come out! 

Until next time, 
Eat your greens!