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:
Here’s to an abundant March!