School Garden News – San Anselmo, California

Great idea, I wish them well.

Create a sustainability project like the San Anselmo Seed Alliance

We’d love people to create similar programs to the San Anselmo Seed Alliance (described below)
A sustainability project for everyone, the San Anselmo Seed Alliance (SALSA), will build and maintain a community seed garden and teach students how to grow their own food and preserve their own heirloom seeds.

The garden will be our classroom, from construction to harvest. Following the intention and methods of permaculture farming, we want to strengthen our neighborhood relations and disaster preparedness, as well as getting more kids involved in non-consumptive activities. We want to provide bi-lingual after school programs, field trips, and weekend activities.

The garden will include a rainwater catchment system and a small solar greenhouse, and be designed to maximize its harmony with the existing living systems on the site.
The project exists on two tracks: the build and maintenance of the garden, and the education programs that will be its foci. We intend to create ongoing relationships with willing participants in the citizen base, the San Anselmo School District and the Town Council, as well as participate in the court-prescribed community service program to reach more at-risk youth.
This is a pilot program for what we hope will be an infectious movement in both urban and suburban settings, so that it can be used as a template in other communities.

SALSA currently consists of a few master gardeners, a couple of seed preservation advocates, a couple of green energy and building specialists, a couple of permaculture advocates, a couple of community organizers, local businesspeople, and a number of other skilled individuals. We are looking for more skilled and newbie folks to work with us to realize this vision. We are all learning as we go.
SALSA will be a cost-neutral program, funded through grants and private donations.
This post was submitted by Nicole Maron.

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Part 2 – Gentle Guidelines for Effective Participation

School Grant Calendar

The School Grant Calendar is a listing of grants available to school gardens arranged by application deadline date. It is hosted and maintained by the San Diego Master Gardeners Association.

Week 36 – Spring Harvest and Planting Peanuts

We had out first spring harvest this week: round 8-ball squash the size of tennis balls, dark green zucchinis with flowers still intact and tender green beans that also grew yellow and purple (anything colorful is always a big hit).

With only five weeks left in the school year it is too late to start anything new (though you probably could squeeze in a crop of radishes or lettuce). However for school gardens with year round access we’re just getting to the sweet spot. We’re planting heat lovers like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and peanuts. Peanuts? I never grew them before, I couldn’t resist.

Last week I’m at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market and I happened upon Hayward Organic Gardening’s stall of vegetable seedlings. They were selling peanuts in 4” containers for $3.00 (Note: 3 to a container, if you’re careful with transplanting, that’s only a buck a piece, and you do want to separate them). Peanuts need a lot of room to grow (I’ve seen recommendations for spacing at 18” apart in rows 3ft apart) and they need a lot of time to grow (Days to Maturity is 130-140).

If someone didn’t tell me these were peanuts I’d swear they were peas. Botanically speaking they are more pea than nut. Nuts grow on trees, peanuts grow in pods which then get submerged into the soil where they remain until harvest. A member of the Legume family, they are a close relative of black-eyed peas. Can’t wait to watch them develop.

For more about the peanut see:
1) Growing Peanuts in the Home Garden – Iowa State University
2) The Incredible Peanut – Southern Illinois University

3) Can’t talk about peanuts without mentioning George Washington Carver.
Read about his life and legacy (also from Iowa State University)

School Garden News – Seattle, Washington

Auburn High School Hopes Garden is Step in Healthier Direction
by Lauen Vane

The future of the Auburn School District’s school-lunch program is a cropping of spindly sticks protruding from a bumpy plot of grass next to Auburn High School.
With a little luck and some spring sunshine, the sticks will sprout into fruit-bearing trees — the start of a garden designed to bear produce for the district’s school-lunch program.
The garden, roughly an acre, won’t feed an entire school district of more than 14,000 students, but child-nutrition-services director Eric Boutin hopes it can make a difference. As rising food costs and a childhood-obesity crisis pressure school-lunch programs to be both healthful and cost-efficient, Boutin says the garden can connect kids to the whole, healthful foods they need to be eating.
“We need to find a way to feed our kids better,” Boutin said.
His answer: School kitchens will use produce from the garden. Fresh vegetables could appear on the salad bar and dishes like roasted rosemary chicken will make use of fresh herbs.
It may be the only such garden in Washington; a spokesman for the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction said no other district grows its own food for school lunches.
With children’s diets a mounting concern, the traditional lunch-menu rotation of chicken nuggets, pizza and tater tots isn’t acceptable anymore, Boutin said.
Boutin has made healthful eating a priority across the district, which serves nearly 11,000 meals a day.
So in April, students from an Auburn High horticulture class planted apple, plum and pear trees. Boutin has plans for an herb garden, vegetables, native plants and flowers.
Students have a direct hand in planting the garden. High-school horticulture students work on it regularly, and Washington Elementary has an after-school program and a planned summer program for kids to help out with the garden.
At Washington, students already choose vegetables from a fresh salad bar.
“They actually eat it,” said Sherry Bloomstrom, the school’s kitchen manager.
One day, when the garden produces vegetables, Boutin envisions they’ll have a place on the salad bar.
He says it’s a misconception that school-cafeteria cooks don’t know how to make nutritious meals. They can cook healthfully — they just aren’t given enough money to spend, he said.
The district has a food budget of $4 million a year; that leaves about $1 for each lunch. Preparing the most healthful meals using fresh, local ingredients would cost more than that, Boutin said.
Experts say school gardens help students learn firsthand about the kinds of foods they should be eating.
Gardens are a powerful context for learning, said Zenobia Barlow, executive director of the Center for Ecoliteracy, a California-based institute that pioneered the Rethinking School Lunch program.
A school garden helps even the youngest children understand the cycles of nature, she said, and children are much more engaged when they take part in the learning.
School gardens, in some capacity, are popular. In California alone, there are thousands, Barlow said.
But, she said, Boutin’s plan to use produce from the school garden in school lunches is less common.

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School Garden News – Murphys, California

Murphys School lets Children Play with Food
by Dana M. Nichols

School gardens are no longer primarily science experiments in which third-graders sprout radish seeds.
Hundreds of school gardens, including the beds of berry vines and onions planted in April at Michelson School in Murphys, also now may change the way students and their parents eat, combat childhood obesity and even give concerned parents leverage in efforts to improve cafeteria food…
The problem is nationwide. According to a Harvard Health Policy Review article published in Fall 2006, children’s intake of fresh fruit and vegetables has been falling for 30 years, and only 2 percent of school-age children now meet basic federal recommendations for a healthy diet. The article said part of the problem is that federal farm subsidies go primarily to grain crops, making those crops and the resulting products, such as bread, cheap when compared with fresh fruit and vegetables.
Schools and a variety of public and private agencies in California are fighting back by introducing gardening on a larger scale to many campuses.

For more on gardens, schools, and kids’ nutrition
California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom: http://www.cfaitc.org/
Foothill Collaborative for Sustainability: http://www.foothillsustainability.org/
Life Lab: http://www.lifelab.org/
The Chez Panisse Foundation: http://www.chezpanissefoundation.org/
The Edible Schoolyard: http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/
The California School Garden Network: http://www.csgn.org/

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School Garden News, Los Cerritos, California

School Garden #1

Did you know the Los Cerritos School Garden is an official Monarch Butterfly Waystation? The migration of hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies starts in Canada each fall and they travel all the way down to California and Mexico to spend the winter. Monarch waystations are places that provide the necessary resources for monarch to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. So if I understand this correctly, the monarchs are in Canada in the fall, they fly down to California, have some babies. The babies get the baton, keep flying down to Mexico. They hang out there for the winter, baton, California, baton, back up to Canada, baton…
Anyone, please tell me if I got the gist of this natural wonder – the monarch migration. You can visit Monarch Watchto learn more about the monarchs and how you can create an official monarch waystation in your own backyard! In addition to being good for the environment, the butterfly gardens are incredibly beautiful. Download the waystation application form and on it you will find lists of the milkweeds needed for the larvae, nectar flowers for the adults and the sustainable management practices to keep your monarch habitat healthy and happy!
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School Garden News – Tuscon, Arizona

Kids: It’s Easy Being Green

When Civano Community School second-grade teacher Marisa Bragoni’s students built a model community as a class project, they included a cistern to collect water.
“No one told them to include a cistern,” Bragoni said. “They built it in because they believe it is a way of life. Water cisterns and recycling are innate for them.”
In January, Civano Community School, 10673 E. Mira Lane in the Vail School District, was recognized as the greenest school in the nation. The school received a $50,000 award and was featured on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Civano students not only practice being green at school and home, but also are spreading the word about the importance of protecting the Earth.
Fourth- and fifth-graders are writing letters, making posters and producing videos to send to other schools in the area, encouraging other students to go green.
Fourth-grader Nick May said their video will be about “recycling, biking to school, using less trash and creating less waste. We like to use containers with screw-on tops, not disposable ones.”
“We compost the fruit we don’t eat and put it in the garden,” said Cliff Bateman, another fourth-grader working on a video about composting.
The school’s organic garden, maintained by the students, is an important part of the school community.
“Because it is organic, we can eat the things in the garden,” said fifth-grader Tess Holmquist.
Fourth- and fifth-graders are stewards of the garden, Bragoni said, and the school curriculum is related to commitment to the environment. “When we study the human body (in second and third grades) the focus will be on health and nutrition. That is where the garden plays a role. And when we study weather, we talk about the importance of harvesting water when living in a desert climate.”
Learning to recycle has the greatest impact at home, teachers say.
“At home, we recycle cans, bottles and paper,” said first-grader Danielle Crain. “We learned to do this at school.”
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