Seed-Saving and Seed Study for Educators

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) School Garden Program announces the release of “A Handful of Seeds” – a new publication on seed saving and seed study for educators.

This guide is available now as a free PDF download on their website. CLICK HERE to download the 91 page (1.6MB) full color illustrated guide.  Inside you will find lessons linked to California Educational Standards, practical information on seed saving in the school garden and seed history and lore.

Saturn Elementary School Garden Groundbreaking & Kickoff Party

You’re all invited! I’ll be there representing National Gardening Association. Come out and say hi!

Date: Saturday, March 20, 2010
Time: 8:30am – 12:30pm
Location: Saturn Street Elementary School
Street: 5360 Saturn Street
City/Town: Los Angeles, CA

The Rings of Saturn are delighted to announce that Saturn has won a 2010 Give Back to Gro grant from Keep America Beautiful and Scott’s Miracle Gro Company. Finally, it’s time to build the garden!! The event will start (at 8:30am) with Mayor Villaraigosa’s presentation of a proclamation for the school, followed by a celebration of the NEW Saturn Edible Garden with activities for the whole family:

– Help build planter boxes and plant seeds and plants in the school’s new outdoor classroom
– Paint garden signs and create flower headbands
– Walk the Saturn Master Plan to ‘experience’ how the Saturn playground will be transformed into a community park!
– Enjoy lunch with your neighbors after a great morning of service

We’re also proud to announce that produce from the new Saturn Give Back to Gro garden will be donated to the First Presbyterian Church food pantry as part of our partnership with Plant a Row for the Hungry.

Also, Come and get tickets to the Chivas USA soccer game on March 26 against the Colorado Rapids!

Jamie Oliver’s TED award speech

Famous chef and 2010 TED Prize Winner Jamie Oliver expresses his wish to teach every child about food and fight obesity. You can read more about it here.

School hooks worms into sustainable class services

Starside Elementary School in De Soto, Kansas is tending to a collection of worms that are helping to break down cafeteria waste. The school has twelve bins or factories of the Pennsylvania red wigglers to help create the compost.

See article here and make sure to check out the accompanying video.

10 Ways to Integrate School Gardens into Arts, Science, and Math

1) Make a scarecrow. See Atlanta Botanical Gardens 2009 Scarecrow Winners for inspiration.

2) Paint a sign. Nothing says Our Garden like a freshly painted sign. See 25 photos of garden signs from Life Lab.

3) Build a trellis. Trellises are needed throughout the year to support such vegetables as peas, pole beans, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, and gourds. See trellis as art from Maine artist, Paul Jurutka.

4) Make a germinator to showcase germination process (see video.)

5) Read Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. Some have turned the book into a school play. Others were inspired to make a movie.

6) Keep a journal. For scientific purposes we want to track the following: what we’re growing, when did we sow seeds, how long did the seeds take to germinate, how often do we water, how long does a plant take to mature (from seed to harvest), how big does a plant get (height and width), and how much does it yield.

Many other scientific experiments may be initiated with results tracked in a journal.  See Conducting an Experiment from cornell.edu.

7) Plant seeds of lettuce or cilantro and observe the different plant stages. Reserve one plant to be saved for seed. These plants (all annuals) will flower and seed within the school year. Students can observe the entire lifecycle of a plant (seed-to-seed), as well as learn to collect seeds for the following seasons.

8) Collect bugs and insects into a terrarium and observe their habitat and behavior.

9) For math students, examples of gardening equations:
a) If a row is 8 ft long and we space our carrots 3 inches apart how many carrots can we grow in one row?
b) Our pole beans grow 8 inches a week. How many feet will they be after 12 weeks?
c) My raised bed is 4ft x 8 ft x 1ft. How many bags of dirt (2 cubic feet each) does it take to fill the raised bed?

10) For more inspiration see School Garden Potpourri of Ideas

Choosing Tomato Seeds

Always a difficult decision. Tomatoes (and corn) is everyone’s favorite homegrown vegetable. We’ll be starting them indoors in late February and early March. If you haven’t gotten your seeds yet, get them NOW.

This year I’ve decided on Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Pineapple Tomato, Cherokee Purple and Sungold Tomato.

Sungolds are bright orange, cherry tomatoes, hybrids, very sweet, and very high yields. The others are heirlooms, open-pollinated, 1-2 pounders: green, yellow blush, and deep red.

The intent is both visual and culinary. The different colors will delight any child and the depth of flavors from the four varieties in a freshly made salsa, bruschetta, or checca will excite the palate of any adult.

Favorite Seed Companies:
Baker Creek
Botanical Interests
Gourmet Seed
PineTree Seeds

National Green Week 2010 (February 1-5)

Green Education Foundation (GEF) is mobilizing two million children to participate in environmental educational programs during National Green Week 2010 (Feb. 1-5, 2010). The objective is to empower students to become environmental stewards within the context of their own lives.

GEF’s provides all the educational content for the program including standards based environmental lessons that are easily incorporated into science, math, language arts, social studies, and creative arts curricula. Following are some of the GEF eco-challenges that schools can participate in during National Green Week 2010:

* Waste-Free Snacks & Lunches – Students nationwide will participate in the largest school based waste-reduction program in history by pledging to carry their drinks, snacks and home packed lunches in reusable containers for the week. The combined totals will be tallied and posted on the GEF website on Earth Day 2010 (April 22).

* Energy Reduction Challenge – Students will audit their classrooms, schools and homes to find energy leaks and correct them in an effort to reduce energy consumption at school and at home.

* Lights-out Classrooms – Teachers are encouraged to turn off the lights, when sunlight is a viable option to teach by for at least one day during National Green Week 2010.

* Walk/Bike/Carpool Week – Students and their families will make a concerted effort to walk, bike and/or carpool for the week.

* Idle Free Week – Principals will encourage all parents and bus drivers to turn off their ignitions when wait time is longer than 20 seconds.

National Green Week 2010 is a free program. Schools and groups are encouraged to take this opportunity, whether for the week, a day or an assignment to spend time with their students discussing environmental issues and specifically what they can do to make a difference. Please view the National Green Week 2010 start-up kit for all the details on how to participate in the program.


For more information visit Green Education Foundation