While our students are back in the full swing of the new school year, our summer program was a lasting hit! In addition to building and planting the garden’s pumpkin patch and living maze for the Pumpkin Patch Festival Fundraiser on November 1st, our students also got to experience growing and selling produce at the Friday farm stand. Students harvested, washed, weighed, sold, and set prices for various produce from our garden- radishes, kale, swiss chard, tat soi, lettuce, herbs, beets, celery, okra, and basil! They also peddled potted plants and veggie starts, as well as seeds they had saved and packaged themselves. The students were excellent salespersons! They tried a range of marketing techniques, including cheering, holding up veggies and signs, pretending to cry, and shouting things like, “Eat healthy! Buy our veggies!” Their efforts were well-rewarded! The students raised over $300 in in only 6, hour-long Friday market and got to share the fruits (and seeds) of their labor with the community.
As those of you who work in schools may know, May 5th-9th was Teacher Appreciation Week! To honor our teachers at Honaunau Elementary, our principal put on a Teacher Appreciation Luncheon that Friday after school. Being the social alchemist that she is, our principal approached me and asked if we would provide a salad from the garden for the luncheon. Knowing that we would have our 5th grader culinary wizards for garden resource class that day, I knew we would be able to make not only the salad, but some original dressings as well!
The 4th grade girls set the stage that morning by harvesting flowers, herbs, and pretty leaves for bouquets while the boys began harvesting whole heads of lettuce. Our beds looked rather sad with the decapitated stumps of lettuce stems. In addition to the lettuce, they also harvested okinawan spinach, beet greens, arugula, dinosaur kale, radishes, and a couple beets.
When the 5th graders arrived, one group finished harvesting and began washing the vegetables with our vinegar and water rinse to clean off any dirt or insects. The other group was responsible for making two different salad dressings. The students were given a basic salad dressing recipe (3 parts oil, 1 part acid, herbs to taste, and pizazz) and had to make their own original dressing recipes. The ingredients they had to choose from were olive oil, sesame oil, apple cider, balsamic vinegar, lemon, lime, herbs from the garden (basil, cilantro, green onion, oregano, and thyme), sunflower seeds, honey, shoyu (soy sauce), and tahini. Since there were two ball jars for the dressing, the students decided to split into two groups, boys v. girls. The groups ended up making very similar dressings. The girls used olive oil, lemon, cilantro, sunflower seeds, and honey while the boys used olive oil, lime, basil, and sunflower seeds. They insisted that I inquire among the teachers which dressing they preferred.
As usual, the bell rang too early and we only had three prepped salads and two dressings. A couple students stayed after to finely chop the beets and radishes. Two girls had the idea to put nasturtium and brassica flowers on top to make the salad even prettier. The students got to present the salads to the very grateful and appreciated teachers. 🙂
In The Worm Hotel we feed the worms tasty, well-pulverized fruit and veggie scraps from a local juice bar. In exchange, they give us castings (a fancy word for worm doodoo) to fertilizer our garden! Worm castings is some of the richest compost around. The preschoolers BRAVELY and GENTLY helped us separate the worms from their castings. They enjoyed touching their slimy bodies and watching them wiggle and jiggle around their new homes. Most exciting of all were all the baby worms they found! Amidst all the squeals of delight and surprise, I heard exclamations of, “Auntie, I LIKE worms!” and, in reference to two worms that appeared to be snuggling, “Miss Jess, look! They’re in love.” The worms the students collected went back into The Worm Hotel and the castings we used to make vermicompost tea that the Kindergarten and 1st graders sprinkled around our garden during their Friday garden resource class! Taking care of our garden is certainly a team efforts that combines the talents of all our grade levels.
Our second graders are beginning to learn about the power of observation through their experiences in the garden!
Look, a pumpkin!
Each garden class starts off with small groups of students recording observations in their various garden “zones”. In these groups, the second graders are looking at changes over time; plants in their zone grow, die, get attacked by insects, change colors, and even disappear!
Zone 1 observes some lettuce keikis!
The students use their 5 senses, as well as magnifying glasses and rulers to inspect and measure leaves, insects, stems, and other features.
A closer look…
In addition to their observations, the students are being introduced to the science method through a real-life problem that came up last semester in the garden: the carrot seeds they planted never sprouted! After discussing the various possibilities-too much water, too little water, not enough sun, not enough nutrients in the soil, etc., they decided that the school’s feral chickens were the culprit!
Now they are working on developing potential solutions to protect the next batch of carrots from the same fate. They are then going to turn these solutions into testable experiments! We will keep you posted on their progress. Thanks for following us! 🙂
This semester in garden class, our first graders are focusing on science! We began the semester by discussing the difference between living and non-living things, what thing living creatures need to survive, and how they go about getting those things. Most recently, we’ve been exploring the concept of a habitat, a home where living creatures have access to all the things they need! Last week, we split the first graders into groups of three and had each group “build” a habitat for a certain garden creature.Weebeasties!Earthworm Beginnings of the spider habitat!
They filled their tins with dirt, sticks, dried leaves, flowers, broccoli, water, and compost to provides homes and food for honey bees, earthworms, spiders, weebeasties (aka microbes), bean plants, and chickens. Once they had finished, each group presented their habitat to the class and how their creature uses the various features of their habitat for survival! At the end of class, we asked the students what they wanted to do with their habitats and they said that they wanted to place them in the bed next to their weebeasties’ house. As they were placing their habitats in the bed, one girl said, “Miss Jess! I know why we should put our habitats here, because then the weebeasties will have neighbors they can talk to”! Classic. The new neighbors of the Weebeasties!
School is back in session! Many of our plants not only survived the dry winter break, they even thrived. During our first garden resource class of the new year, our first graders harvested, washed, weighed, and bagged kale and collard greens to take home and share with their families! They learned how to harvest the leaves of the plant from the base of the main stem so that the plant will keep producing over the season.
They also learned to wash the leaves of lettuce in a vinegar/water mixture to remove any insects and how to read a scale. Altogether, the class harvested 7 pounds of greens! While I love to eat greens in every way, shape, and form, for those of you who aren’t used to eating kale and collards, I’d recommend making them into pesto. Here’s a great recipe; we tried it out with our A+ after school students and they loved it!
1.5 cups kale
1.5 cups basil
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan or romano cheese
1/4 cup mac nuts (walnuts or pine nuts are good substitutes as well)
1-3 cloves of garlic depending on your spice preference
one pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until the pesto comes to a dip-like texture. If the mixture is too dry to blend, try adding a little more olive oil. Serve on pasta, as a dip for carrots or celery, or on whole grain crackers. Yum!
A BIG Mele Kalikimaka and Happy Holidays from the Honaunau School Garden!!
In the spirit of the Holidays, in combination with our graciously productive soil, the Honaunau School Garden has started doing a big harvest once a week for our students and their families! Every Friday from now until we run out of produce, students will harvest, wash, weigh, and bag produce during their Friday resource period to be given away to families after school. In addition to fresh produce, there will also be plant keikis available for folks to take home to their own gardens! Our first harvest was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving; a group of 5th grade girls came up to the garden before school and did a big harvest of mixed salad, beets, beans, and kale and collard greens! We also gave away a couple basil plants from our front boxes that needed new homes. Be on the lookout for other goodies coming from the garden Fridays after school, next to the cafeteria!!Washing station