Week 25 – Fava Beans

Its harvest time for our fava beans, the longest pods are 12-13 inches. To enjoy them we first have to shell them from their pods. Simply cut down the long length of the pod and pull out the beans.
Notice the thick inner lining of the pod that protects the beans like a warm winter overcoat. As you shall see there are in fact two overcoats. This explains why this particular legume is a cool-weather crop while others in the family like pole and bush beans prefer warm weather. Take one look at this double overcoat and it all makes sense.

To cook favas, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, then the beans, and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander. Next, peel off the outer white skin (the second jacket) by pinching through the skin opposite the growing tip.

Press the growing end of the bean between your thumb and forefinger and the bean will spurt out. The simplest way to enjoy them is to sauté the fava beans in a little olive oil or butter until tender and then salt and pepper to taste. For those a little more adventurous try fava beans in place of garbanzo beans in your favorite humous recipe. And for those who are truly gourmands or inspire to be…Fava Bean Soup with Short Ribs.
1) Make a beef stock from short ribs. Strain and save meat.
2) Cook the fava beans in the beef stock until soft and tender.
3) Puree beans in a blender adding just enough stock to liquefy.
4) Salt and pepper to taste .
5) Serve with shredded short rib meat sprinkled on top

You’re going to thank me for this one 🙂

School Garden News – Hayward, California

Joy of growing: Teaching garden know-how
By Kristofer Noceda (InsideBayArea.com)

HAYWARD — Youssif Rouchi tears off a piece of mustard greens from a school garden and eats it.

“Wow! Dude, this tastes like that wasabi stuff,” Youssif, 12, says to classmates.

“Hey, let me try,” a sixth-grader says. “Me, too!” another yells.

Mission accomplished.

Fairview Elementary School’s garden program has students excited to try out fresh fruits and vegetables, something officials say can only benefit kids in the long run.

“It’s horrifying because I hear the No. 1 thing kids like to eat is hot Cheetos,” said Debra Israel, who coordinates the Hayward Nutritional Learning Community Project in the Hayward Unified School District.

“This generation of children is not expected to outlive their parents,” Israel said. “It is horrifying.”

The Hayward Nutritional Learning Project, which also belongs to a county coalition that includes the San Lorenzo and Livermore school districts, is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Eighteen district elementary schools, a middle school and high school are part of the project in Hayward. To qualify for the program, a school must have at least half its students enrolled in free and discounted lunch program.

The idea began as part of a pilot program in 2003.

Christine Boynton, then a fifth-grade teacher at Burbank Elementary in Hayward, worked with the Lawrence Hall of Science and the botanical garden at the University of California, Berkeley, and created a classroom curriculum based on nutrition education.
“She realized it was hands-on, interactive, and appeared to affect classroom behavior in a positive way,” Israel said. “The next thing you know, everyone wanted to start school gardens.”

Boynton now works at the Alameda County Office of Education and directs the Nutritional Learning Community Coalition.

The curriculum has grown over the years, and coordinators at each participating school site have made their own additions.

Matt Nolan, who heads the project at Fairview, introduced a composting program this school year.

At the end of every lunch, students can donate their leftover fruit and vegetables to the “FBI” — which stand for fungus, bacteria and invertebrates — which turn it into food for the school garden.

Students then weigh how much food scraps they have collected for the day and mark it on a graph to track their progress for the year.

“The idea is to track how much food we save from landfills, while also learning and applying math skills,” Nolan said.

After students have entered the data, they take the leftover food scraps and dump the remains in a three-tier composting system.

“It’s about getting kids active, getting out, touching things and giving them an experience of making their own food,” Nolan said. “Many students don’t realize that food doesn’t just come from a grocery store.”

In addition to promoting healthy eating, the program has helped teachers temporarily drift away from test-driven lessons.

“With such an emphasis now focused on accountability and testing, teachers are saying this is the one fun thing students have left,” Israel said. “It’s engaging students in an interactive hands-on approach that seems to be strengthening their success in school.”

Meanwhile, students said they enjoy participating in the program because they know it helps the environment.

“The garden is important because it’s going to help the air become cleaner,” Rouchi said. “Plus, it helps us kids out too, because we know how to take care of a garden now and won’t have to hire a gardener when we get older.”

Click here for complete article.

School Garden News – San Diego, California

Garden teaches students about hard work and the food that they eat
By Joe Tash
UNION-TRIBUNE (SignOnSanDiego.com)
February 23, 2008
The best part about working in a garden, said Morse High School junior Reginald Paragas, is planting seedlings in the ground. “It’s sort of like you started it. It’s your responsibility to take care of
it”
The worst part? That would be the worm droppings.
“I’m just not a big fan of worms. The smell of it is immensely horrendous,” Reginald, 16, said of the droppings, which are used as plant food.
Reginald is one of seven students in the Seeds of Leadership Youth Garden program, which offers lessons about hard work, environmental awareness, healthy eating and growing your own food.
The program also offers paid internships through a $31,500 grant from the San Diego Women’s Foundation. Students work in the 4,000-square-foot vegetable and flower garden at Morse after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on Saturday mornings. They collect $400 at the end of their eight-week rotation, when a new batch of students takes over.
The grant, which runs through June, also supports a part-time coordinator, who teaches the finer points of composting, planting and methods of protecting plants from predatory bugs without pesticides.
Reginald and his fellow interns are tending to winter crops such as mustard and collard greens, kale, Swiss chard and several varieties of lettuce – all laid out in neat rows in the school garden, a fenced enclosure on the edge of a parking lot.
The produce grown in the garden is used in the Hungry Tiger, a student-run restaurant on campus; sold to teachers and school families; and eaten by the student gardeners themselves.
The garden is a joint project of the southeastern San Diego school and the San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to increasing the supply of locally grown food.
“We’re seeing it as a model for other schools in San Diego,” said Julia Dashe, the gardening coordinator, who learned about organic gardening through her involvement with a program called the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, and in classes at UC Santa Cruz.
“It’s important for teens to have opportunities to do meaningful work and get paid for it,” said Dashe. “Work with dignity that gives back to the community and prepares us for the 21st century, with green technologies and a green economy.”
The garden program dovetails with the Terra Nova Academy, a 140-student “school within a school” at Morse focusing on environmental awareness, nutrition and culinary arts.
“We’re trying to help at-risk students get involved in school, giving them themes that will engage them,” said Terra Nova lead teacher Bridget MacConnel, who spent hours of her own time on weekends and during summer vacations to create the garden from a patch of shrubs with help from student volunteers.
The academy aims to prepare students both for college and food service careers, but also has a more practical side – MacConnel said many of Morse’s 2,700-plus students come to school hungry. More than half qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program. The Terra Nova program and school garden, she said, can help students make better choices about what they eat and drink, improving their nutrition and overall health.
Seeds of Leadership is open to all Morse students, and it involves not only getting their hands dirty, but going out into the community to spread the word about the importance of healthy, locally grown food. Recently, the interns spoke at a meeting of the Skyline-Paradise Hills Planning Committee, and they have also made presentations at elementary schools.
The current crop of interns is a mix of 10th-and 11th-graders, with interests ranging from football and wrestling to dramatic arts.
Tyree Roberts, 16, wants to study biology and environmental science in college, and he was told by a college recruiter that his application should include community service. That prompted him to apply for Seeds of Leadership.
“I probably wouldn’t be a farmer. But it’s actually pretty cool planting things, growing your own food,” Tyree said.
On the other hand, a life in the fields would suit Paul Achee, 15, just fine.
“I’d like to be a farmer. That would be the ultimate thing, my dream come true,” Paul said. “I love the interaction with nature and being able to dig in the earth in the middle of the city.”
Zaina Nunez, 16, said the lessons she has learned through her internship will make a difference in what she eats from now on.
“I didn’t know most of our food was grown with pesticides, and you could get cancer from that. That surprised me,” she said.
Morse students are especially in need of the lessons offered by the Seeds of Leadership program because, unlike other parts of San Diego, the surrounding community has no farmer’s market or commercial agriculture, said Dashe, the gardening coordinator.
“Southeast San Diego is one of the places I would call a food desert in San Diego,” she said. “There aren’t any commercial gardens in the area. There’s no local food production. Unless you grow it in your backyard, there’s no access to farm-fresh food.”
That may change if an ambitious plan by school officials becomes reality. MacConnel said a 1.5-acre plot on campus has been eyed as a site for a community farm to be run jointly by students and local residents. Food grown on the farm could be sold to restaurants and grocery stores, or could be used to make products such as salsa or salad dressing, which would in turn generate revenue for the high school.
Classes in business management, marketing, computer graphics and science could be built around the farm, MacConnel said.
While no funding source has been identified, MacConnel said, “It’s going to come to us any way and every way possible,” whether through donations, grants or volunteer effort.
“There’s so much that can happen.”

Week 24 – Spring Garden Preparation

We’re a little more than halfway through the school year. According to my calculations we have 17 weeks remaining. We are still harvesting chard and kale on a weekly basis, however most of our other winter veggies have either all been harvested or gone to seed. We are now clearing those beds and amending them once again with organic compost for an all new planting of warm-weather, spring vegetables. Over the next couple of weeks we will be planting rows of beans, corn, squash and decorative sunflowers, as well as transplants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and cucumbers that were started indoors. For schools that are not accessible year-round I recommend growing cherry tomatoes, as the larger beefsteaks will not likely mature before school’s end.

Week 23 – Cole Slaw Recipe

We’re harvesting cabbage, we’re harvesting carrots, put them both together what have you got? That’s right, we’re making cole slaw, a name derived from the Dutch word koolsla (kool) cabbage (sla) salad and made famous by a guy named Richard Hellman, a New York City deli owner who made salads and sandwiches with his wife Nina’s home-made mayonnaise. Once Hellman started bottling the mayonnaise in 1912, cole slaw took off as a national side dish. For those of us on the west coast we know Hellman’s mayonnaise as Best, it is one and the same and the one by which all others are judged.
To make our cole slaw I’ve got a cutting board, a kitchen knife, a vegetable peeler, a carrot grater, and a big mixing bowl. First lets harvest our veggies. When picking cabbage pull the whole plant from the ground, snip off the base (stem and roots) and cut away the big tough outer leaves till your left with a tight round head. With the carrots (4 small ones) cut away the green tops. Wash both under running water. Cut the cabbage into quarters and then into thin, fine strips. Peel the carrots, grate, and add to the cabbage. Next, we make our dressing. Add three tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, sprinkle of sugar, dash of salt & pepper and mix well. Enjoy!

Week 23 – Bolting

Bolting is the term used when a vegetable crop runs to seed. It is triggered either by a cold spell, a hot spell, or changes in day-length (photoperiod). Annual crops will bolt in the first year, biennials in the second year. Some vegetables (lettuce, mizuna, arugula, etc.) become unusable (bitter) once they bolt.

A tell-tale sign that a vegetable has bolted is the formation of a central stalk. Once you see this you know that the vegetative stage is over and the flowering stage has begun.

I recommend allowing one or two plants to bolt (lettuce and cilantro are good choices). This will not only give students an opportunity to view the complete life cycle of a plant, it will also enable the formation of seeds of which we can save for the following season.

bolted-cilantro

More on Bolting at Wikipedia

Week 22 – Planting Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables you can grow, but they prefer cool weather. Think about where they originated – mountains of Peru, and where they grow well – Ireland, Maine, and Idaho (all cool weather environments). You should try to get them into the ground at the right time. Here in Southern California, according to digitalseed.com the right time is now.
If you want to grow potatoes, you should plant seed potatoes. A seed potato is nothing more than a piece of a potato with an “eye”. Potatoes from the supermarket should not be used as seed potatoes as they are bred not to form eyes (keeps them fresh on the shelves longer). Visit your garden center or order from specialty seed catalogs for seed potatoes.
Potatoes grow best in soft loamy soil and in full sun. Add plenty of compost prior to planting , to create a rich, loose soil that retains water, yet is well draining. Soil should be slightly acidic to avoid potato scab. Plant “eyes” in hills, two to three eyes per hill, and cover with 3″ of garden soil. Space hills one foot apart. As the plants grow, mound additional soil around the plants every week or two. Do not let the tubers or potatoes be exposed to sunlight. You can cover the soil around the plants with compost or mulch.
Below is a picture of a potato flower. From this picture can you tell what family the potato is in.