Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

After the Harvest

For all of our luck having growing seasons and school years overlap, it seems that the Edible Peace Patch wants to go into peak harvest a week or two after our harvest festival. The squash are looking healthier than ever, enormous orange flowers blooming in the sun. Bright yellow crook-kneck and pale flesh colored butternut. Not to mention the zucchini which keeps coming and the gourd on the fence. And then there is the cucumber. This is the season of cucumber.
We have heard that tomatoes are not the best crop for the hot Florida sun. The word on street is that cherry tomatoes are your best option. But Amy planted some variety of large tomato on her balcony and transplanted it here in February or March and now, hanging almost ripe on the vine, is the largest tomato I have seen yet. And behind it and around it are a dozen more ready to ripen and red soon, too. We will have a bountiful harvest of tomatoes in two or three weeks before the hot summer sun begins to burn out the plants.
There were even radished left over from the radish bed we harvest. And beans to harvest and corn on the cob and the stem. The zucchini are works of art and the okra flower, the first of many ready to bloom, composes a delightful contrast in the Sunday morning light.
We plan to offer the rest of the harvest for sale from behind the school. If it is within school policy. Otherwise, we'll set up a stand somewhere. There will be a regular harvest for several weeks.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Harvest Festival

Tonight was the 2nd "Annual Garden Harvest and Science Celebration". About 150 people came out, including Lakewood students, their families, and other community members. It was a really incredible event. The evening's activities began with a walk through the garden, followed by a vine planting ceremony at the entrance of the garden. Professor Curtis planted a Coral Honeysuckle vine and stated how the vine serves as a metaphor for the Lakewood students; as they work to help the garden grow and mature, the garden also works in the students to help them grow and mature. The events then moved into the cafeteria where the Eckerd students served the dishes they had prepared to the community members. As we ate we watched the documentary produced last year by Kelly Schiller, and then heard some remarks from Principal Cynthia Kidd, Lakewood science coordinator Peggy McCabe, and Professor Curtis. The events of the evening concluded with a raffle of various potted plants from the garden such as tomatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and marigolds.
I began participating in this project in January of 2009, when it was still mostly just an idea in Professor Curtis' mind. A dozen or so of my classmates at Eckerd began volunteering with the project, not really sure what would come of it. Now, almost a year and a half later I find myself involved in a successful, revolutionary project that I know will only continue to grow and solidify. I feel very fortunate that I've had the opportunity to not only participate in this project, but to watch it grow from idea to success.
We are in the middle of a food revolution in America, and I think that it is projects like this that are going to produce substantial and effective change in the future. More and more people are becoming aware and concerned with where their food comes from and the garden project at Lakewood addresses that issue while putting it in a learning environment for elementary school students, college students, and the surrounding community. This is a mutual learning experience, my classmates and I have learned so much from teaching these Lakewood students that can't be learned in a classroom.
Although I'm sad to have to say goodbye to this project I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of it and the events tonight at the Harvest Festival reiterated to me how important of a project this is.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brilliant Wednesday morning in the garden, cannot believe the end of the year is coming so quickly. I have so looked forward to these quiet mid week mornings, where this beautiful growing space has provided a perfect platform for easy conversation and playing in the dirt.

Alex and I spent the morning weeding and watering and trying to combat the strange fungus that has overtaken the zuchinni leaves. We applied a diluted milk solution to the leaves, as suggested by Dylan, so hopefully we should see an improvement

We had some unexpected visitors from the 4th grade classes towards the end of our shift, who were sent to observe and interpret their findings through writing and drawing. It made my day to be surrounded by these young ones, so full of questions and excitement!

It seems things are coming together for the Harvest Fest tomorrow, grocery shopping has been done and the zucchini bread is going in the oven!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home stretch on the garden harvests!

Today in the garden we witnessed a tremendous feat! With our second grade class we harvested some of the beans that have grown tremendously fast over the last few weeks. The numbers kept piling up and at the count we almost picked a hundred beans!!! If today was not already successful enough, we played a final match of the Bee game. The bee game, originally organized by fellow edible schoolyarders is a garden favorite. Along with tomato tomato cucumber, this game provides an educational background while providing an outlet to the extremely high amounts of energy our students have. The bee game consists of fast, witty and smart bees whose goal once let out to run chase after the mighty flowers who try to outlast and outsmart these bees in order to make it from their home base across the PE field. Pollination is key in our garden and it is easily understood through a fun activity.
Besides having a great last day with our students, a ton of weeding was accomplished to pull the sedge out of the mulch. Keeping the sedge out of the mulch will only add to the natural beauty of the garden for Thursday's Harvest Festival!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Last Monday of the Year

Today was a marvelous day! Dragonflies were busy gathering nutrients and helping the garden bloom under the sun's shining rays. Unfortunately, it was the last day for mondays kindergarden and second graders class. The second graders ran through the open field screaming and laughing as they played the game pollinator. Likewise, the kindergarden class chased each other around in a game of cucumber, tomato, which is essentially duck duck goose. In both classes, we discussed what we learned over the school year and what was some of the kids favorite things were about the garden. It is apparent that the some of the kids favorite parts were pineapples, aloe, playing games, tasting the vegetables, watering the plants and planting the seeds. Also many of the kids stated that they learned it takes water, sunlight, bugs, and soil to create a garden. They really seemed to have enjoyed this experience and have gained a lot of knowledge regarding how to grow a successful garden. One kid even stated that it feels good to be in touch with the earth and give back to it, which was really cool to hear from young generations. All and all, the volunteers and the children had an amazing semester together. The best part was being able to plant a single seed with the kids and watch it grow over time into a beautiful plant. The spirits of the kids made the garden grow extra strong and it will be a privilege to enjoy the wonderful food that we grew at Thursdays Harvest Festival!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Where did the lovely, balmy spring go? Did it even make an appearance?

Florida weather is back with a vengeance and it is taking a toll on the garden. The beating rays of the sun have prompted us to amp up our watering routine. The night time humidity/dew has spurred the growth of fungus on the leaves of the zucchini and squash, hopefully this will not affect the harvest. We have also discovered holes in the lovely unripe tomatoes; slugs are most likely the culprit. Enough bad news though, there are so many tasty things to look forward to in the upcoming week! We harvested six massive cucumbers for the festival next week and there are tons more to come.


With the exception of mystery bed 5, the majority of the garden inhabitants are thriving. We'll even have some sunflowers blooming in a few days. During the early afternoon shift we watered and weeded with Ms. Burke's enthusiastic class. We had a weed pulling contest that helped to snuff out the sedge population growing on the west side of the garden, their help was much appreciated.


We are nearing the end of the line for the garden this year and I am turning into a squishy sentimental slug! Today was oppressively hot and humid, but I couldn't have been happier to be pulling weeds in the Edible Peace Patch. For two spring semesters I have participated in this fledgling project and I am sad to see my time come to end. Through this endeavor I have developed a love for teaching and gardening that will last for many years. I am so thankful to the Lakewood administration, Professor Curtis, Peggy McCabe, and all the Eckerd folk for making this an incredibly fun and worthwhile experience. Enough mush though, let's get psyched to eat some veggies!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It's Almost Time to Harvest!

The Harvest Festival is a little over a week away, and things are starting to come together! Everything is growing in the garden, and we have a rough schedule for the harvest festival. I'm really excited to try all the different dishes the Eckerd students are bringing out!
Today, we showed our Kindergarten class around since its been a couple of weeks since they could come out. Then they drew their favorite parts of the garden to be hung up at the harvest festival.

With our second graders, we played the garden version of steal the bacon with different vegetables we found in the garden. I really like this game since it not only requires some speed, but some thought since the kids have to recognize which vegetable was called out.
I went to the media center today to look for some books to read to the kids, since reading a story was part of our original plan. I'm not sure why we haven't gone up there before, there were SO many books that we could use for ALL the classes in the garden. Hopefully, we'll make more use of the media center next year!
Well until next time!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Caution: Contents may be HOT!

It was a hot and sunny day at the peace patch today and there is lots of work to bedone in preparation for the Harvest festival. The a.m. shift watered all of the plants in the garden, churned the compost and did a bit of weeding despite the morning heat. They also harvested a GIANT zucchini and a couple of cucumbers to be shown to the kids who would come out later. As the sun rose in the sky and the day got warmer, more garden magic took place.

The early afternoon shift was visited by the kindergarteners, who played “the bee game,” a game to help students learn about pollinators. By the end, the children were sweaty and tired, but walked back into their classroom with smiling faces. The first graders that came out during the early afternoon took part in a plant scavenger hunt in order to help identify the vegetables in their final, harvested form.

The late-afternoon team got to see Ms. Lee’s 1st graders, who hadn’t been out to the edible peace patch for a whole week, drew pictures of their favorite garden scenes to be used as decorations for the Harvest Festival. Mrs. Robinson’s 1st grade class helped the afternoon shift weed out the persistent witch grass between and around some of the beds. They, too, seemed to enjoy themselves, even in the scorching mid-day heat.

Some of today’s classes even had the opportunity to taste some of the large, freshly-picked cucumbers. Much of the veggies in the garden are nearly begging to be pulled from their beds and the peace patch has proved the perfect environment for growing massive zucchinis, big, long cucumbers, copious quantities of greens such as kale and collards, bushes upon bushes of beans, succulent squash, climbing legumes supported by corn, red radishes, carrots, a variety of herbs and decorated with colorful wild flowers, marigolds and sunflower towers.
When it comes time to celebrate the bountiful harvest, the peace patch team will be ready!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Oh the Things Kids Will Say!

Thursday was hot, but everything is coming in beautifully! We're holding off on harvesting until the festival which is approaching quickly!!! Although I normally write about the day happenings of the garden, I've decided to take a different direction today.

Throughout the semester, I've been mentally collecting phrases, compliments, and the oral meanderings of the students I teach. Usually, the capacity to remember these sayings are due to exactly how funny and unexpected they are. One day while reading a book about mother nature, a student turned to me and said "I once met mother nature." Simple as that. All I can wonder is where this student met mother nature, and what she might look like. Our Tuesday 2nd graders always ask to "taste some of the pickles." Each time as we eat the dill, we explain to them that the dill is just the spice that makes pickles. It's so fascinating to see the association the kids make. The very first quote I can remember from this semester was a compliment from a female student. As we were walking to the picnic table for the day's lesson she said: "You have vampire teeth." I was so taken aback, not sure if it was meant to be positive or negative so I simply said "thank you!" This Thursday I was told I have nice toes, hair, and a pretty shirt. The compliments are quirky, but when you look at their wide smiles, it's impossible to help smiling back and saying thank you!
Although these compliments may seem odd, at least they're genuine. Children don't have a filter; they literally just says what pops in their head. To be truly uninhibited from social constraints of white lies, propriety, and over all "manners" is a gift. Society views the filter as a necessity, yet a child has the ability to be completely honest. Are we missing a critical piece of society by being dishonest to a certain degree with one another? Just another potential life lesson we can (re)learn from children.