School Gardens in the News

1) Los Angeles, CA
A new crop of School Gardens

Even as state funding wilts, support for school gardens is growing…

It may seem counterintuitive to start new programs in this economic climate. Summer school was canceled at many campuses this year, the $1.7-million California Instructional School Garden Program grant to the Los Angeles Unified School District has expired, and the budget crisis has left countless teachers unemployed.

But this groundswell, largely sparked by parent and community interest — and perhaps some inspiration from Michelle Obama’s White House garden — is finding support in all the right places.

2) Oregon City, OR
Planting Seeds of Change

Anna Meyrick, the director of Oregon City’s Hera Community School, is always on the lookout for new ways to educate and engage students at the alternative school, which seeks to encourage students to make positive changes through community involvement, education and art-based projects.

3) Brooklyn, NY
Let it Grow

This summer, my daughters and I are getting our hands dirty, thanks to their schools and our city. We may live in an asphalt-dominated landscape, but with minimal effort we have found green spaces where we can practice the good, old-fashioned art of gardening.

4) Brooklyn, NY
New planter stolen from schoolyard garden in Park Slope

Parents at Park Slope’s Public School 107 were shocked last week after a planter, recently purchased for their vegetable garden was stolen from the schoolyard.

“It’s a school, for God’s sake,” said parent and garden coordinator Michele Israel at the Eighth Ave. school.

School Gardens in the News

1) Brooklyn, NY
From School Yards to School Gardens

Students at 10 Brooklyn schools will be toiling in the soil this summer and fall, growing vegetables to feed their classmates as part of an effort to get student-grown foods into the school cafeteria.

“We want to eat the stuff we grow,” said Aidan Israel, 7, a student at Public School 107 on Eighth Ave. in Park Slope, who has been helping cultivate peas, kale and basil in the school’s yard. “It tastes fresher than the stuff in the store.”

2) Tasley, VA
Program introduces children to gardening benefits

Nine years ago, the Eastern Shore Master Gardeners Chapter began, composed of trained volunteers whose purpose is to help educate our community about the art and science of gardening here on the Shore.
Since then eight more classes have received training. Each class develops a unique project designed for public education, such as the historically accurate colonial kitchen garden at Ker Place in Onancock, and the Pungoteague Elementary School gardening project.

3) Fayetville, NC
Homegrown education: School program teaches gardening skills

Jares is one of hundreds of young people participating in the Communities in Schools FirstSchool Gardens program of Moore County. The program began two years ago. Today, there are five schools growing vegetables and fruits with four more gardens planned.

4) New Zealand
Sustenance & sustainability
Sometimes Marfell hits the news for the wrong reasons: chemicals found in a children’s playground that was once a city dump, a school sports field ripped up by vandals, the dodgy connections of some residents.

But it leads the pack in other respects. Last June, Marfell was the first New Plymouth suburb to plant a community garden. A year on, things are flourishing.

Summer Bounty Recipes

May not be many students around over the summer, but that hasn’t stopped our school gardens from performing. Corn is high, tomatoes are plump, cucumbers are fat, peppers are turning color, pole beans are still producing, and zucchinis are abundant.

cherokee purple tomato
cherokee purple tomato

Two recipes to utilize all this goodness are included below.

1) Black Bean and Quinoa Salad is courtesy of the Los Angeles County Nutrition Program. Be sure to check out their healthy recipes/cookbooks page and their onsite cookbook of healthy, low-fat, easy to prepare, ethnically inspired recipes (in both spanish and english.)

Ingredients:
½ cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 cup corn
2 scallions chopped
½ cup tomatoes
½ cup green peppers (or red)
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 Tbs cilantro chopped
salt and pepper to taste

optional:
1 cup chopped zucchini
Grilled Shrimp chopped
Grilled Chicken chopped

Soak quinoa for five minutes then drain. Bring water to boil and add quinoa. Lower flame to barely simmer, cover, and cook until all of the water is absorbed (20-30 minutes). Let cool. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. (Note: bulgar can easily be substituted for quinoa).

2) California Tabboulleh is a variation on traditional tabbouleh.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup bulgar (medium size)
1 cup stock or boiling water
1 lb tomatoes
1/2 cup green onion
1 can black beans
1 cup corn
2-3 cups cilantro
2 jalapeno peppers diced (rib and seeds removed)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt if using water
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup citrus (lemon, lime and orange combination)
1/4 cup olive oil

optional:
Queso Fresco or mild Feta Cheese
Avocado
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped red pepper

Pour 1 cup boiling water over bulgar and allow bulgar to soften while you prepare the other ingredients. Chop tomatoes and leave in a colander to drain. Chop onion, cilantro and pepper. Rinse black beans. Drain and discard excess liquid from bulgar.

Toss bulgar, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, corn and beans. Dress with citrus juice and olive oil. Season to taste. It’s best prepared a couple of hours or more ahead of serving to allow flavors to develop. (Note: quinoa can easily be substituted for bulgar).

Feel free to alter ingredients and measures according to taste and harvest.

Rain Gardening in the South

I’ve been noticing school rain gardens being mentioned more frequently in news alerts and thought some of you would find this book invaluable.

Written by NCSU horticulturalists Helen Kraus and Anne Spafford, Rain Gardening in the South helps gardeners wisely use our most precious resource—water. Rain gardens maximize rainwater, enhance the landscape, and promote good environmental stewardship.

Runoff contributes significantly to polluting our waterways. The rain garden, which functions as a miniature reservoir and filtration system, offers an effective, visually pleasing solution that dramatically reduces toxic runoff, resulting in cleaner rivers, lakes, and oceans.

The authors define the rain garden as “a garden slightly sunken below grade designed to capture rainfall, store that water to nurture the garden plants, and cleanse runoff, thus removing pollution.”

Ironically, rain gardens are more drought-tolerant than conventional gardens. Because of their plant selection and ability to store water, rain gardens flourish during dry spells, as well as rainy seasons, making them particularly conducive to the South.

“Water-wise gardeners are conscious of both the need to limit their water use and the need to minimize runoff, thereby dramatically reducing water pollution,” write Kraus and Spafford. “Not only are rain gardens extremely effective in addressing water and pollution issues, they are gorgeous.”

Rain Gardening in the South addresses the specific environmental circumstances of southern gardens, such as climate issues, plant selection, and soil types. It details step-by-step instruction on constructing a garden, from the design stage to post-planting maintenance, including plant lists and troubleshooting tips.

Though the specific plant lists are targeted to southern climates, the concepts, diagrams and design templates are universal.  And it is a very easy-to-use guide, full of accessible information about water harvesting, improving water quality, soil types…good hands-on science curriculum.

Publisher’s discount: $16 + $4 shipping at enopublishers.org

Rain Gardening in the South

School Gardens in the News

1) Newark, NJ
Growing minds: Planting the seeds for healthy living in youngsters

Students at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark are tending to seeds and seedlings they planted this spring, a small group of them continuing their watering and staking duties even now — during their summer break — to ensure good harvests later this summer and into the fall.

2) Parsippany, NJ
Storms test Randolph school’s rain garden

Michelle Land’s middle school students probably did not envision their newly dug rain garden being immediately put to the test, but this wet June has proved the project a success.

3) Cumberland, MD
Rain Garden Planting at Mountain Ridge High School

Approximately 80 students from Mountain Ridge High School Environmental Science and Biology classes along with volunteers from the Georges Creek Watershed Association participated in a rain garden planting at Mountain Ridge High School this spring.

4) Wausau, WI
Summer Program Teaches Kids to Enjoy Vegetables

For many children, eating their fruits and vegetables can be a challenge, but the Wausau school district has found a way to get their students excited about them. Their summer program ‘The Magic Bean’ has third through fifth grade students learn about healthy nutrition, while growing the food themselves.

5) Columbiana, AL
From Fertile Minds come fresh foods

Market-goers snatched up fresh-from-the-earth carrots from the Fertile Minds stand at Pepper Place Market June 27.

“We sold out of the carrots, tomatoes and okra before we knew it,” said Jake Woodham, a student at Indian Springs School.

6) Coos Bay, OR
Slug by slug, weed by weed

Part of Katie’s job this summer is to collect data on the garden’s growth in a journal. Each week after watering and weeding, she grabs her notebook and tape and “measures the plants and stuff.” She carefully records the height in both inches and centimeters in her journal – a school requirement of the summer gardener.

7) West Linn, OR
Sunset community helps garden grow

Volunteer support for the program has experienced a growth spurt this year, with as many as 45 families taking on weeklong shifts in the garden, just west of the school. From mid-June to the start of school this fall, they’ll pull weeds, double-check the irrigation system and tidy up the beds.

School and Garden Related Newsletters

I subscribe to a number of school and garden related newsletters/email lists that some of you may want to subscribe to. They are:

1) Botanical Interests Seed Company Newsletter

2) California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom E-Newsletter

3) California School Garden Network (Sowing and Growing Newsletter)

4) California Regional Environmental Education Community  (CREEC Network) Newsletters are available on website

5) GardenABCs.com Monthly Ezine

6) Kids Garden News (Kidsgardening.com)

7) Kitchen Gardeners International Newsletter

8) Life Lab Science Program

9) School Gardening–LA County Residents e-mail list.
E-mail Yvonne Savio (ydsavio@ucdavis.edu) and ask to be added to School Gardening–LA County Residents email list.

10) School Gardening–Non-LA County Residents e-mail list.
E-mail Yvonne Savio (ydsavio@ucdavis.edu) and ask to be added to the School Gardening–Non-LA County Residents e-mail list.

11) Southern California Regional Newsletter
National Gardening Association (also by Yvonne Savio)
See Regional Reports Zone Map to get newsletter for your area.

The Seedfolks of Room 324

Over the course of two weeks students wrote, filmed, and directed this short film after reading Paul Fleischman’s novel Seedfolks. These stories are the students’ stories created on location in Mr. Hughes’ English class at Virgil Middle School in Los Angeles, California.

Put this book on your summer reading list, you’ll thank me in the fall.

Seedfolks at Amazon.com

Amazon.com Review
Sometimes, even in the middle of ugliness and neglect, a little bit of beauty will bloom. Award-winning writer Paul Fleischman dazzles us with this truth in Seedfolks–a slim novel that bursts with hope. Wasting not a single word, Fleischman unfolds a story of a blighted neighborhood transformed when a young girl plants a few lima beans in an abandoned lot. Slowly, one by one, neighbors are touched and stirred to action as they see tendrils poke through the dirt. Hispanics, Haitians, Koreans, young, and old begin to turn the littered lot into a garden for the whole community. A gift for hearts of all ages, this gentle, timeless story will delight anyone in need of a sprig of inspiration.