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.

Green Bean Harvest

Green beans (aka string beans or snap beans) are one of our earliest spring harvests.  Seed to table is usually about 60 days.

snap_beans

We are currently harvesting both bush beans and pole beans.  The difference between the two being: bush beans mature all at once while pole beans mature over a longer period of time. Additionally, bush bean plants are usually no more than 18” tall, while pole beans grow as a vine and can reach heights of 10-12 feet (hence the name, the pole is used for support, all pole beans should be grown on a trellis.)

green_bean_trellis

For those with year round gardens think about doing at least two or three  plantings, stagger the sowing, and you’ll have fresh green beans all summer.

To collect green beans seeds for next year allow some of your green beans to
stay on the vine till they appear dry and brittle . Collect the seeds and then store in a cool dry place.

dried-bean

One of my favorite ways of preparing green beans is the roasting method. See Roasted Green Beans recipe from kidscooking.about.com

For more green bean recipes please see the following:
1) GreenBeansNMore.com

2) 4 Fresh Recipes for Green Beans from Eating Well.com

3) 4080 ways to cook green beans from Cooks.com

Pre-K Garden’s Bounty

By Elvia J. Montanez, Director or the Pre-K program,
Holy Name of Mary School, San Dimas, CA

We’re just a single pre-k class in a pre-k through eighth grade school, but the children and parents have helped create a beautiful and bountiful garden.  It is actually the space of dirt found in a “U-shape” between parking spaces in our parish parking lot.  This space is right outside our classroom door, which is convenient.  A former class parent helped remove dried bushes from the area in the summer months before the school year started, and a work weekend (which ended up being rainy, but we trudged on) with a few families prepared the soil.

pre-k3

It’s not a large space at all, but our tiny garden has produced enough food and enjoyment to help feed various snack times for our four and five year old students, salads and vegetable trays were made on various occasions for the school and the parish staff, veggies went home (one gallon bag of lettuce per family/20 families and various other veggies at different times), families often picked lettuce or herbs to use at home, and at various times throughout the school year we sent carrots and lettuce (about 5 gallon zip bags each time) to our local homeless shelters during our school’s monthly collection of lunches (the Double Bag Lunch program) for the homeless in our area.  The children learned how to dry dill and hand made spice packets to take home their dried herbs.

This year we have grown dill, cilantro, lettuce, spinach, and carrots in the fall and winter.  We are currently caring for our spring and summer garden of squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers which were grown from seed.  Early on we planted wildflowers (also from seeds) because one of our students had hoped pre-k would be a place where she could pick flowers (and she did…almost daily).

pre-k1

The children learned about farming and gardening from a “hand to mouth” experience.  At the beginning of the school year we took a field trip to California State Polytechnic University, Pomona’s pumpkin patch and farm store.  There the children harvested pumpkins, shopped the farm store to pick out fruits and vegetables for the week, and watched day laborers plant a field of strawberries.  The week after, the children planted their winter garden from seed.  They cared for it and eventually harvested the bounty for snacks which they prepared and washed themselves.  In the early stages of the garden we were blessed with a finding of ladybug larva on a nearby tree.  The larva was collected, observed and eventually the lady bugs were released into the garden.  Over the winter months they seemed to multiply, giving the children a lesson on sustaining healthy plants without aphids and great joy in catching and releasing them.

Recently, the children learned how to collect seeds from their plants which will be used for next year’s garden.

Probably one of the most memorable moments in gardening was watching a young student who wouldn’t touch fruits or vegetables at the start of the school year, end up being one of the students who takes the most enjoyment from gardening and harvesting its fruits and vegetables.  She still won’t eat them, but doesn’t complain when placed in front of her at snack time and loves preparing the snacks for others to eat.

Our garden has been used in math centers, science centers, and even art centers (we took the brown, wilted leaves of the lettuce and painted with them).  We have several families who have started their own gardens at home as a result of the impact the school garden has had on their children.  It has been an awesome experience!

pre-k2

School Gardens in the News

1) Riverside, CA
Banning children learn how does a garden grow

Third- and fourth-grade students at Hemmerling Elementary School in Banning are tending to a vegetable garden on campus, where they’re growing zucchini, tomatoes, radishes, cilantro and string beans.
“It’s just fun that you get to grow your own plants,” said Nick Barnes, 10.

2) Ontario, Canada
Butterfly project takes wing

After growing from their eggs and munching leaves to grow strong, 20 black and yellow caterpillars each spun a chrysalis and emerged, much to the delight of many Monsignor O’Donoghue pupils, as painted lady butterflies.

3) Sioux City, IA
Students turning park into butterfly garden

Back in October, East Middle School students joined a club called “We Can Change the World Challenge”.  The students met twice a week after school planning to make-over a green space in Sioux City.

4) Wenatchee, WA
School garden brings nourishment to cafeteria and classroom

Anaka Mines held up a clump of grass attached to a maze of long, white roots, and Liberty Bell High School eighth-graders recognized it immediately as a rhizome. An hour later, first- and second-graders from Methow Valley Elementary School needed a little coaxing. “It rhymes with,” Lexi Koch offered, chuckling as she struggled to come up a word, “pie-zomes.”

5) Eugene, OR
How do their gardens grow? With agriculture experts, enthusiastic students and volunteers all in a row

The term “school grounds” used to mean swings, slides and teeter totters. These days, at about 30 schools in the Eugene-Springfield area, it also means lettuce, peas, squash, tomatoes — even garlic.

6) Santa Cruz, CA
Life Lab Science Program Celebrates 30 Years with Garden Festival

For 30 years, Life Lab Science Program has been helping educators and students bring learning to life in the garden. Based in Santa Cruz, Life Lab has been a leader in the garden-based learning movement locally and across the nation.

7) Cardiff, CA
Students sell produce to local restaurant

Children at Cardiff Elementary School have spent the last several months growing produce that will be used this weekend in salads at a nearby restaurant. On Friday morning, a group of roughly 40 students excitedly walked a couple of baskets and buckets full of lettuce, carrots, parsley and edible flowers to the nearby Rimel’s Rotisserie restaurant and got a cool $200 for their work.

Coriander Harvest

cilantro
Its called cilantro when we harvest its leaves, and coriander when we use its seeds.

bolted-cilantro
Being an annual, it’s one of those plants we get to witness a complete life cycle.

cilantro-flower
It was originally planted in the fall, bolted in winter, flowered, went to seed and now ready for the seeds to be harvested.

coriander
Collect the seeds for the following September and we’ll never again have to worry about buying cilantro seeds.

School Gardens in the News

1)Spring Hill, FL
Kids learn hydroponic gardening

Linda Rothenberg’s students have turned more than $5,000 in grants into an outdoor classroom that is growing vegetables. As Westside Elementary School’s science lab teacher, Rothenberg sees more than 700 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and all have participated in the project.

2) New York, NY
PS 6 breaks ground on NYC public schools’ first green roof, a dream of teacher who passed in ’07

A public school in New York City has broken ground for a rooftop garden and greenhouse. The roof will have planting soil for vegetables and flowers, solar panels, a weather station, a turtle pond and a greenhouse for classes during the winter.

3) St Thomas, USVI
At Sibilly, Composting Starts From The Ground Up

Jason Budsan of EAST talked to the Sibilly School Gardening Club members after the ceremony. “Compost is nature’s first recycling project. It starts from the ground up,” he said. He showed them three flower pots filled with different kinds of things that will become compost — papers, grass and leave clippings and kitchen trimmings.  He explained how the compost bin works. “Collect organic waste materials, and put them in the tumbler. Add enough water to moisten only. Close the door and give the bin five turns every few days. In about four to six weeks, you will have supercharged soil.

4) San Jose, CA
Parents help San Jose school garden programs grow

The Booksin school foundation and parent volunteers are working on a grass roots pilot program to turn the campus garden at 1590 Dry Creek Road into a training center for teachers from other schools in the San Jose Unified School District. Teachers would use the Booksin garden to learn how to conduct classroom activities, and then bring that knowledge back to their students, says parent Jennifer Mowery.

5) Pocantico Hills, NY
School of gardening: Stone Barns is teaching teachers how to grow vegetables and integrate that into the classroom curriculum.

Long before the popularity of buzzwords like “sustainability,” “locally grown” and “organic,” Denise Martabano was planting her first school garden with youngsters from the Meadow Pond Elementary School in South Salem…And now this local pioneer in the school-gardening movement is spending many of her Saturdays at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills leading workshops with teachers from throughout the tri-state region, teaching them how to grow gardens at their own schools and integrate them into the classroom curriculum.

6) Portsmouth, England, UK
Sounds like this school garden is extra special

The garden is alive with the sound of music thanks to new oversized instruments at a school…The seven beautifully hand-crafted outdoor musical instruments which range from eye chimes, to drums, xylophones and chime bars, have been carefully selected for younger children.

Got Dirt? Celebs to Adopt Organic Gardens in LAUSD Schools

From LAist.com

This week, the Environmental Media Association’s Young Hollywood Board is putting on the gloves and digging deep in support of organic gardening in Los Angeles-area schools. Celebs on the Board, including Nicole Richie, Lance Bass, Rosario Dawson, members of Maroon 5, Amy Smart, Matthew Rhys, Emily VanCamp and Emmanuelle Chriqui, will each adopt an area school, help with the planting, and check in with their gardens during the school year, explains People.

The project is the product of a newly-formed partnership between the EMA and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s School Gardens program, and personal care brand Yes To Inc. The launch event is scheduled for tomorrow morning at Hollywood’s Helen Bernstein High School, and the program will take root over the next several months.

Just how much dirt Richie et al will actually get under their fingernails remains to be seen, but Bass for one is pretty stoked: “Organic gardens are so important, especially in urban areas where many students would otherwise never see any greenery. I hope that the support will help them to grow and flourish in Los Angeles.”