School Gardens in the News

1) Stillwater, OK
Recycled rainwater sprouts Skyline gardens

A rainwater recycling program at Skyline Elementary School quickly sprouted more than just roots and took on a life of its own.

During a whirlwind of activity the last eight months, Skyline students and staff have teamed up with representatives from Oklahoma State University, the city and Sustainable Stillwater, a community environmental organization, to build a cistern that will help support a garden behind the school.

2) Algonquin, IL
Garden a hands-on lesson for Scout

Sometimes, Shelby Cieslinski of Algonquin said, she halfheartedly regrets teaching her children to volunteer. Like when, after leading her oldest son Jonathan’s Boy Scout troop, her youngest son Josh assumed she and her husband, Thomas, would volunteer to lead his, too.

But late last month, she couldn’t have been prouder of Josh when the Community Unit School District 300 Board of Education recognized him for his work designing and implementing a butterfly garden at Lake in the Hills Elementary School.

3) Australia
Students dig in and get their vegie patch started

BEAUTY Point Public School students will get help from the countryside when growing pumpkins for the Daily’s Great Backyard Challenge.

A teacher at the school owns a property in the country and has promised to bring in “good garden soil” to help grow giant pumpkins, science teacher Mirelle Farrell said.

4) Zebulon, NC
School Gardens Will Grow Food to Eat, To Learn, And To Share

Elementary school teachers are going green in Franklin County, NC with installation of school gardens. Teachers are adding gardening to their lesson plans for science, nutrition, and other subjects. Produce grown in these gardens will feed the students, the teachers, and other local residents.

Working with Franklin County school teachers and Dale Byrns, Creative Education Office, several gardens are being installed. In Spring 2010, over 100 elementary school students will be growing food for themselves, learning about nutrition, working in the garden, and sharing their produce in the local community.

5) Temecula, CA
TEMECULA: Garden program gets state honor

A program in Temecula schools that allows children to work in gardens on their campuses and learn about growing food and plants has earned the district a statewide award.

There are gardens at 22 Temecula Valley Unified School District campuses, where children gets hands-on lessons about topics such as science, weather and healthy foods.

6) Los Angeles, CA
Lunch with Alice Waters in Larchmont elementary school’s garden

When Alice Waters talks about improving school lunch, she doesn’t just mean making the chicken nuggets more nutritious. She wants to see a table set, maybe with flowers. She wants children to have enough time to have conversations as they eat.

Kids off the Couch

Two resourceful moms have built a website dedicated to getting your kids off the couch. It is called appropriately, KidsOffTheCouch.com. Each week they feature a memorable movie for the family to watch together and couple it with an off-couch activity.

Some of their garden related activities include:

1) The Secret Garden + Edible Gardens

2) My Fair Lady + A Flower Market Visit

3) FernGully: The Last Rainforest + Botanical Gardens

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Lastly, as a bonus, the illustrations by Laura Cornell are brilliant.

Seed Sale from Botanical Interests

Botanical Interests, Inc., supplier of quality seeds to independent garden centers and health food grocery stores, is extremely interested in helping schools with their school gardens.

For schools needing NEW seed for their gardens, email shaynal@botanicalinterests.com for a 40% discount code off any seed purchased from botanicalinterests.com.

Include the name of your school and your contact information. Old or donated seed with poor germination is very discouraging to kids and teachers when it doesn’t germinate after so many hours of preparing a garden!

Also check out http://www.botanicalinterests.com/schools.php for easy, paperless seed school fundraisers.”

For more information about School Garden Fundraisers see my Q&A with Curtis Jones, President of Botanical Interests.

Botanical Interests

Potting up

When starting seeds indoors it is sometimes necessary to repot new seedlings into a bigger container rather than plant them immediately outdoors. We call this practice potting up. In the enclosed video I am potting up Broccoli into a peat pot which can then be transplanted at later date directly into the soil.

School Gardens in the News

1) Redlands, CA
School recognized for edible garden

Redlands High School’s special education students make meals from the produce they cultivate on-campus. Their work received an honorable mention Tuesday for the School Garden of the Year Award, by the California School Garden Network.

2) Denver, CO
Gardening uniting generations

Kathy Komarek, 61, steadies a pumpkin for Esther Hung Pai, 10, as she scrapes the seeds out. Toward the end, it gets too hard for Esther’s tiny hands to clean out her pumpkin, so Kathy takes over. Younger and older hands continue working in unison.
Through a program called Connecting Generations, those hands have been working together in unison at Harrington Elementary in the Cole neighborhood.

3) Turlock, CA
Elementary students take gardening to a new level

Second grader Amelia Boyd’s favorite part of the Julien Elementary Garden Celebration is the taste testing. Along with tasting the variety of plants, she  danced to garden songs, learned about nutrition, and studied the process of photosynthesis on Friday.
“I love the Garden Celebration because we get to sing garden songs and the tasting is going to be fun, but I hate pears,” Boyd said.

4) Liverpool, United Kingdom
How does your recycled school garden grow?

PUPILS at St Anne’s Primary School in Rock Ferry are set to benefit from a project to spruce up their garden.
They are using reclaimed timber, to create a pergola and planters, as well as recycled plants, stones and galvanised steel for seating.

5) Pittsburgh, PA
Carrick students raise butterflies, watch them take flight

“It’s called controlled chaos,” Principal Vincent Lewandowski said with a smile. With a whistle blow, he was quickly able to quiet the nearly 300 students in grades two through five assembled on the playground of Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Roosevelt Elementary.
On a sunny morning last week, the students were anxiously awaiting the release of 60 monarch butterflies raised at the school’s intermediate campus in Carrick.

6) Palm Springs, CA
Forget bag lunch; students grow theirs

Col. Mitchell Paige Middle School students will plant their own produce in their new community garden this year.
Work on the 2,400-square-foot garden at the northeast edge of the school started last week.

Pumpkin Soup Recipe

In celebration of Halloween check out what arguably may be one of the best pumpkin soup recipes ever. One can also substitute any winter squash (i.e butternut squash) for pumpkin.

Pumkin Soup with Fennel and Orange

To bake a fresh 6 to 7 pound pumpkin, halve the pumpkin crosswise and scoop out the seeds and fiber. Place halves, hollow side down, in a large baking pan covered with aluminum foil and add a little water. Bake, uncovered, at 375, for approximately 60 minutes.

When finished let cool and scoop out flesh.
(Approximately 3 cups)

In a large pot heat 3 tablespoons oil and sauté the
following: 1 chopped onion, 3 chopped garlic cloves
and the zest of 1 orange.

Cook for about 10 min until onions start to brown.

Stir in 3 large, chopped and cored fennel bulbs and
cook for about 15 min. Season with salt and pepper.

(Optional – add 2-3 ounces cognac, brandy or orange liquor and stir.)

When alcohol is burned off add 2 cups chicken stock.

Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Add cooked squash, mix thoroughly, and season with
salt and pepper.

Puree in blender at high speed.
Add just enough extra chicken broth (1-2 cups) to
ensure the soup turns smoothly in the blender.
Season to taste.

City Green is Greening the City

City Green is a non-profit community garden organization currently working in Paterson, New Jersey.  Their “City Sprouts” program addresses the need for in school and after-school enrichment in the Paterson Public Schools, educating children on the environment, nutrition, and how to grow fresh healthy food. This following is an overview of City Green’s programs for the current school year.

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The School 9 Cougars Go Green club, along with clubs in Schools 12 and 16 are in their second year of Environmental Club programming. School 7 begins its third year with science teacher Marla Arrington directing. All the clubs are supported throughout the year by City Green’s staff and materials.

This year the school programming reaches ten schools, and all ten club directors have received the newly developed City Green Environmental Club Manual, called “Make a Difference”, which contains guidelines and instructions for a full year of programming.  The teams have begun recruiting club members and making plans for the year.

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Using the manual instructions, each club will begin or expand a recycling program at their school. They will raise awareness with a recycling contest and school-wide recycling projects.  Thanks to their awareness campaigns and elbow grease, many tons of paper will be diverted from the waste stream.

Several schools are making plans to work with City Green to  begin a Garden Club using the green space around their school, and on adjoining lots. Gardens will be planned in the fall and installed in the spring. City Green provides consultations, resources and curriculum support to help make their school garden an effective hands-on learning tool.

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With energetic and talented teachers of the Paterson school district and enthusiastic youngsters, the City Green programs provide the tools to empower Paterson’s young men and women to take action and Make a Difference!  And in the words of a School 9 Cougars Go Green gal, “[They] plan to save the planet!”

For more information about City Green please contact executive director, Jennifer Papa, info@citygreen.org, or visit their website at www.citygreenonline.org