Tag Archives: harvest
School’s gardening way yields national attention
By Rhonda Bodfield, arizona daily star, azstarnet.com
Primary school teacher Molly Reed can cook, but she’s no Rachael Ray in the kitchen.
So imagine her surprise to be flying to New York as a special guest on the cookbook queen’s daytime television show.
Reed herself brought the limelight to Borton Primary Magnet School, even though she jokes that she’s now appealing to her principal for help in picking an outfit for her national debut.
She sent an e-mail to Ray last fall, explaining how the school’s community garden is being used to tackle poor nutrition and obesity at Borton, 700 E. 22nd St.
The school, which has a focus on inquiry-based project learning, long has incorporated some small gardens into the curriculum. In fact, by Principal Teri Melendez’s count, there are a dozen gardens at Borton, most of them small plots belonging to specific classes.
Last year, Reed had a class garden, which culminated in a harvest celebration, including a stir-fry using the veggies they’d grown. She was there to guide their first experience with tofu.
Inspired, she successfully wrote a grant and the new schoolwide garden was built with community muscle, technical expertise from the Community Food Bank and a lot of soaking and digging, digging and soaking.
Although a run date hasn’t yet been determined, the film crew already spent a day out at the school late last month, capturing the students in the garden and as they ran the occasional farmer’s market where students washed, packaged and sold their harvest, including lettuce, arugula, radishes and broccoli.
Their last effort sold out in two days and brought in $60, which helps support the garden.
Students improve literacy by writing factoids about each plant — carrots, for example, apparently come in seven colors. The project also helps teach math, with students adding purchases, making change, weighing vegetables and charting growth.
There are a million lessons to be taught. They’re learning that just because eggs are blue or brown doesn’t mean they’re rotten; that the tall leaves are clues to unearthing carrots with a little heft; and how to harvest broccoli — which, if you’ve ever seen it grow, is a legitimate question.
A confessed “chocoholic,” second-grader Alexandra Holiman said her family subscribes to Ray’s magazine, which she finds amusing because there’s a recipe every month for folks who cook for their canines.
Fortunately, she’s also a carrot-snacker, which is why she likes harvesting. “They’re really sweet. They are so good I want to eat them all.”
The new project is an extension of the school’s overall focus on good health.
Two years ago, the school started offering salads with nonfat dressing as a lunch choice.
It has a walking club and schoolwide jump-roping in the morning.
“We want children to know what’s healthy for them so that they can make good choices as they go through life,” Melendez said.
Reed’s students have an even clearer picture of how food affects health. She won a mini-grant last year to set up a student-powered bicycle generator to show students how it takes energy to make energy.
Initially only able to pedal about 10 seconds because of the high levels of friction, they learned about how they need to eat well to be strong. On Monday, one student pedaled for 280 seconds.
Second-grader Allie Tucker attributed some of the growth to the garden. “Sometimes, we eat from there, and the vegetables help make our bones strong.”
Reed said breakfast for her students at the beginning of the year all-too-often consisted of sugary cereals or hot cheese puffs. But after months of sampling the edible plants and herbs grown in the garden, she’s seen a big change.
“I never thought I’d hear a 7-year-old say, ‘I love chard,’ or ‘I prefer kale over greens.’ “
Its not quite fair that summer harvest begins at the close of school. We got our first cherry tomatoes a week before school ended, but no heirlooms, no corn either. Fortunately some of our school gardens are accessible year round and currently zucchini and squash are plentiful.
Try these zucchini/pasta recipes for those who like their pasta both healthy and flavorful. Enjoy!
Zucchini and Pasta 1
Boil water and cook pasta (use whatever kind you like: fusilli, penne, linguini, whatever). Sauté sliced zucchini with garlic, onions and basil in olive oil until softened. Place in Cuisinart and pulse until chunky. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix with cooked pasta and top with grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese.
Zucchini and Pasta 2
Sauté sliced zucchini with garlic, olive oil, hot red pepper flakes, and fresh mint. Place in Cuisinart and pulse until chunky. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss with cooked pasta. Top with grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese.
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)
Next week is spring break. Make sure watering issues are addressed while you’re away. In the meantime, we are currently harvesting: beets, chard, kale, carrots, cabbage, fava beans, broccoli side shoots, and fennel. Did you know kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat? Read this article Kale: The Phytonutrient Master and start adding some kale to your diet. FYI, we’re growing the dinosaur kale (aka Black Tuscan Cabbage).
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.
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!
Its thanksgiving all over again. Being that this the last week before winter break we are harvesting bagfuls of lettuce, arugula, spinach, swiss chard, mixed asian greens, cilantro, and a few early peas. Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, etc we’ll have to wait for till after the break.
Now would also be a good time to think about what to plant in the spring. See my vegetable family chart and choose what warm-season veggies to plant. We’ll be starting much of our warm-season crops indoors so plan on purchasing some peat pots and container soil as well.
Have a happy and healthy holiday. See you all in a few weeks.