March Garden Dispatch


As our beloved Asian pear begins her journey of budding, the florescent lights are

switched on for seed starting while the ever-popular snap peas peek their nostrils

out of the cool black soil, the compost begins to heat and the willows continue their

royal yellow pollen-performance of leafing as the children begin to re-member some

of the stories and food-knowledge back together in preparation for the return of the

disobedience of the sun.

It’s warming up and Spring, although not yet technically here in this region, is most

certainly present on the North side of the school!

The edible garden is abound with life and the children are well aware of this - as if

every new bud and leaf-growth is an extra burst of energy inside them.

With the changing of the seasons and nearly 240 students already exposed to the

garden through multiple months of lessons and activities, some fresh faces are

showing their enthusiasm in the garden: Ms. Tapfer’s 1st grade, Ms. Rachel’s 2nd, Ms.

Harris’ 3rd and awaiting on two more MYP classes. Additionally we’re beginning to

brainstorm a program for one-on-one student mentoring for the 5th grade projects.

The 7th graders’ permaculture lessons are in full swing. As mentioned before, each

class is based off of Bill Mollison and David Holgrem’s 12 principles of Permaculture.

We’ve officially set-up a multi-level fluorescent indoor growing system - the

permaculture principle of that class was “catch and store energy”. Following that

was “Obtain a Yield” where we watched a crazy Australian sing about growing food

(The Formidable Sound System) and finished the lighting for the indoor seeds. The

next principle, “Apply self-regulation and accept feedback” - we spent the class

sitting in the sun as the students ate a big fresh garden salad and reflected in writing

with their own feedback how the class was going. Last week was “Use and Value

Renewable Resources” where a load of fresh bamboo poles were brought to school.

We learned how to use a bamboo splitter to make malleable pieces from the timber

and wove them into the now-established willow fence along the rain garden.

Nothing like getting a bunch of 7th graders to bang a tool and split wood. This week’s

up-coming principle is “produce no waste”.

Ms. Johnston’s 4th and 5th grade spent their last two classes doing some fun projects.

As the lights were set-up for seed starting and thanks to Carol Senna’s generous gift

of seed trays, we were able to start some tomatoes! Brandywine and Amish Paste.

The final class was spent collecting our seed bombs, made a couple months back,

and launched them into the desolate areas of the North Garden - the seed bombs

were packed with crimson clover, a favorite flowering pollinator of the bees.

Ms. Mckinney’s 2nd grade also had their last two classes since the last PTA meeting.

We spent our time exploring the world of edible weeds in the Sabin Community

Orchard - in particular the Purple Dead Nettle. Not to be confused with nettle,

purple dead nettle is one of the first edible weeds to make an appearance before

spring. We learned that their small purple flowers are the first for the bees to

pollinate and if harvested correctly can be a miniature sweet treat for humans. We

also gathered our seed bombs on the last class and gave a celebratory launch.

Ms. Shaw’s class continues to bring their weekly bucket full of food scraps from their

lunch to the garden. The bucket is deposited into our compost system. A highlight

from Ms. Shaw’s class was utilizing the valuable yucca plant. We learned about the

tropical plant relative of agave and how it made its way here to the US. Fortunately,

they’re planted as ornamentals so it was easy to harvest. The class learned about the

process of ‘retting’ or soaking the leaves in water over night and then we used hand

shovels to scrape the membrane to expose the delicate fibers. The following class,

we were able to utilize the sun and sit in the grass as we learned how to make yucca

fiber bracelets. Certainly a tall order, but we all had fun.

Ms. Tapfer’s class is now a regular. We learned the rules of the garden and planted

some snap peas for the first class. We also started Beets, Arugula, and Hot Peppers.

Ms. Anderson, Ms. Cooper and Ms. Mease’s Kindergarten classes have busy bees. Ms.

Mease.’s class was able to make wood cookie name tags - small wood slices of an old

cherry tree and then decorated with their name with twine hooked through as a

necklace. Ms. Cooper’s class also had an adventure in the Sabin Orchard learning

about purple dead nettle and dandelions. Ms. Anderson’s class has officially started

natural birdhouses - otherwise known as birdhouse gourds - they’re sprouting in

under the lights.

SUN’s Garden Chefs had a fun day’s work with a hand mill. We used fresh organic

dent corn and hand-ground our own grits while mixing a bunch of leafy greens from

the garden topped with a load of cheese. The students earned the privilege to talk

about some foreign video game while feasting on home-made grits.

Both Ms. Rachel and Ms. Harris had their first classes this week. We went over rules,

explored the temperatures of the soil with our compost thermometer, and started

Cat Grass for our resident cats and Summer Squash.

We had a super-successful work party a couple weeks back, about 20 people

showed during a rainy/sunny day. We started a new garden bed next to the main

garden gates for growing our three sisters garden - corn beans and squash; Heather,

Carol and Ronnie brought their skillz as well helping to finish the Hardy Kiwi trellis,

picking up three big straw bales and we even had some friendly neighbors pitch in

and do trash pick up! Weeding was knocked out by some parents and lots of kids

helped with the corn bed.

Be on the lookout for our spring plant sale!

If you haven’t heard yet, I’ll be running a Sabin Garden Summer Camp this August in

the north playground through my business, Witch Hazel Designs and Education.

Activities include: Seed germination, veggie harvesting, pruning, composting, story

telling, cooking, cider pressing, homemade tortilla-making, soccer, goat petting and

feeding, knot-making, nature crafts, student leadership opportunities, walking field-

trips, plant medicine and more! Registration is now open and you can register here:

witchhazeldesigns.com/education.

Here’s to an abundant March!

Mr. Julian

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Sabin School PTA  4013 NE 18th Ave.  Portland, OR  97212     /    503-916-6181     /     sabinptapresident@gmail.com

The Sabin School PTA is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit. Tax ID # 93-1037650