Gateway Greening Blog
April 12, 2016 | Tags: Gateway Greening Youth Programs
My Week in a Nutshell
Gateway Greening supports many school gardens and as a youth educator I am fortunate enough to be able to work with several different schools. I wanted to share with you all my week in a nutshell.
Week after spring break in the school garden sometimes looks a lot like this picture below. We had planted kohlrabi in February, carefully thinned it our and even experimented with transplanting some of the seedling and then the spring break happens. In the excitement of the break we forgot to water them the Friday before and and came back to find this. We hope to do better next time.
he preschooler below have read Susan Grisby’s First Peas To The Table in late February and planted their own peas beginning of March. However, a sneaky garden rabbit is also a big fan of peas. Couple of weeks ago students planted onion near the peas hoping to keep the rabbit out but this week they found them eaten again. In the picture below, they are protecting them with a bird net that was donated to the school garden.
A lot of time garden educator finds it challenging to have enough things to plant to keep each student busy and engaged. We have resolved this issue in part by introducing these students to environmental art inspired by Andy Goldsworthy. Here a student has wrapped up the stump in the yarn they found and created a design with natural material found in the garden.
This winter when it was too cold to come out we spent a few class sessions reading Seedsfolks by Paul Fleischman. This book was wonderful and exposed students to many complexity of human nature at a level that they could understand them. Students came out this week and through sidewalk drawings highlighted characters and things that had stuck with them from our reading this past winter. It heartwarming to see the them connecting to this book in this way.
And there is always that one kids who likes to come up to and tell jokes, right teachers? Well he got to write this joke on our new chalkboard fashioned out of an old sign that was in the discard pile. At Gateway Greening, we frequently have these nice metal signs for various reasons so feel free to reach out to us. You will just have to chalkboard paint it.
Our new chalkboard quickly became very popular. Initially I had intended to use it to create a list for tasks that parents can help with if they only had 15-20 minutes during pick up or drop off, however, students have absolutely enjoyed using it unleash their creativity. And it is a good use of the chain linked fence that was not on the pretty list.
There are many ways to water the garden but in a school garden giving students a little something to carry their water in seems to work a lot better than any other method we have used.
There are many reasons to not always clear out your garden beds in fall and winter. One reason is because in early spring when you take your classes out it gives students something to chew on other than knowledge and information. Who says kids don’t like greens?
Another great feature in any community or school garden is to have a place to sit. These stumps were delivered free through city forestry department. This student is reading a book she checked out from the Little Free Library that lives in the garden. It’s all about creating spaces that invite.
When it rained on our flower dissection class Allison Miller took the students indoors and we continued with our lesson. Allison Miller is assistant professor of biology at Saint Louis University.
In conjunction with Missouri Extension agent Diana Finlay, Gateway Greening offers a class at Shaw Elementary where students learn about tasting the food that they grow and learning to eat them. This particular day, I harvested some asparagus from a community bed at Bell garden to have students try them before they planted their own. To my surprise, I say that because it is not often that I hear that kids didn’t like something in the garden, they strongly disliked fresh asparagus. I think that will change if they grow their own and try it. To find out we will have to wait three years, I suppose.
Students were doing blind tasting with Diana and then learning to identify foods using descriptive terms.
This squash sandwich got a 50-50. This particular students didn’t care for it much.
Ms. Diana showing kids what asparagus stems look like.
It’s easy to sneak in language arts in the garden.
Planting some pollinator friendly plants such as Cupflower and Bee-balm.
We learned a little bit about states of matter as we made soaps in our school garden using using the dried herbs from last year and flowers from this spring. Students were so proud to show of their work.
Smelling lemon essential oil.
-Punita Patel, Youth Educator