November 2009


Even though I’m always there in the garden, I’m always constantly blown away with all the activities surrounding me. Last Friday, I ambled over to a group of 4th and 5th graders saying “un, deux, trios…. TRIOOOUS, no, no, triOUS!” Because believe it or not, we teach French in the garden! Once a week, Virginie, our volunteer French instructor, comes in and teaches French to very eager students in our garden. What a better way to learn than to sit outdoors under the blue sky?  They won’t just be learning the language, but in the future, they’ll be learning about cheeses, French heirloom plants, and much much more!

Virginie stressing the correct way to say the many, many tougher words in French.

It looks like we have 5 future college students who will be studying abroad in Paris!

Side note: If there’s something you think you’d like to teach in our garden, please feel free to email me. You can also comment and I’ll be sure to contact you. Some great ideas are storytellers, music instruments, art, languages, writing, etc. Let us know what you can offer!

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Evangeline from FarmApartment recently posted her volunteer experience at our last Work Day event. She wrote from such a wonderful point of view that I really had to share it with you here:

“Winding our way around the buildings, we came upon GSF’s flagship garden and were truly awe-struck.  Three-quarters of an acre of verdant land, abundant with fresh herbs, vegetable and fruit trees. With the roar of I-10 in the background, this patch of green seemed miraculous. Instead of exhaust and pollution, we inhaled the scent of freshly laid hay, rosemary and honeysuckle.”

On a personal note, she writes:

“Let me just interject here that I am a product of the LAUSD.  I have vivid memories of jumping out of my chair at recess and running as fast as my legs could carry me onto the playground – a vast, imposing landscape of black asphalt that appeared to stretch far into the horizon.  A chain link fence let us know where the playground ended and the city streets began.  There was not a tree in sight.  Like desert buttes, two handball courts jutted through the concrete in the Southwestern corner of the yard.  All other play areas – four square and hopscotch courts, a race track – were simply painted lines on the ground. The rest was left up to our imaginations.  Hopefully, we were involved enough in whatever games we concocted to ignore the heat blasting off concrete beneath us.

Prison?  Schoolyard?  Schoolyard?  Prison?  Certainly the architecture didn’t offer any answers.

So seeing this garden was truly a revelation.  Each classroom had its own raised garden bed.  Sweet, hand-painted signs proudly announced the bounty within: kale, chard, cilantro, lavender, eggplant, melon, tomato.”

If you still haven’t been to one of our workday events, please take a moment to read her experience in full and come and experience it for yourself! She captured what a lot of us feel every time we walk through the garden. Plus, she has a pretty awesome blog!

Thanks Evangeline!

Thank you for everyone who came out to the 2nd work day of the year on Saturday! As usual, we got a lot of things done, including planting 15+ fruit trees! We now have plums, pear, and peach trees added to our fruit orchard. We also laid down some fresh hay, planted 6 more rosemary bushes around our Reading Circle, planted 6 new herb beds for the Herb Project, started a new compost pile, planted tons of new flower and veggie plugs, and started 2 new beds ready for planting! I’m always amazed by the power people can have when they get together to work towards a good cause! Thank you!

planting a fruit tree/planting an aloe bed

watering the garden/planting a fruit tree

planting cilantro plugs/laying down hay

planting herbs/breaking new ground for a new bed

planting/digging a new home for a fruit tree

RootDown LA and our young volunteers cooking a bean pasta for lunch!

Some of our young volunteers watering the garden

A big THANK YOU to RootDownLA for feeding the hungry volunteers! They served a great white bean pasta salad. It definitely has me reconsidering white beans. I love them and want them in everything now!

Stayed tuned for our next workday coming up in December!

It’s that time for another workday! For those of you who have never been to a workday event, you should definitely come this Saturday, November 21. It sounds like we put our volunteers through hard labor (we do!) but it’s also great fun. Not only is it a wonderful volunteer event, it’s also a great way to meet other volunteers and people in the field, enjoy the warm sun (Novembers in LA are great!), and learn a little bit about gardening!

When: Saturday, 11/21 (9-12)

Time: 9am -12pm

Where: 24th Street School. 2055 West 24th Street, Los Angeles

What to bring: garden gear (garden gloves, some water, sunscreen, a shovel or pitchfork).

What you might be doing: building some infrastructure, making new beds, and many other tasks… we’re getting ready for the winter gardening season!

Directions: From the I-10 Freeway:  take the “Western Avenue” exit (3 miles west
of downtown) and head south on Western.  Take a right turn on 24th
Street.  The school and parking lot will be on the right-hand side on
the east side of school.  There will be plenty of street parking as
well.  Look for the banner reading “24th Street School Workday” and
enter through those gates.

Hope to see you there!

Angelina
Volunteer Angelina Lai  digs a hole to collect different types of soil samples for a lesson about soil. This is not an easy task!

IMG_2856Everyone is excited to learn about the different layers in our soil! Using scientific terms, Angelina explains that soil is organic matter, which means that it is made up of living things. She explains that organic matter is different from inorganic matter, which is composed of minerals.

IMG_2851Students get their hands dirty as they observe the different properties of each container soil. They observe the color, odor, and texture of the soil samples and record their observations. Students hypothesize which layer of the earth each sample of soil comes from.

IMG_2852Some students notice that that certain soil samples smell clean and fresh!

IMG_2840Then the class discusses their findings with volunteers Angelina and Eileen. There are a lot of observations to share!

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It seems like we’re always blogging about food in the garden, but it’s because we have not one but TWO regular chefs volunteering at the garden! Here’s Chef Jenny introducing her latest cooking lesson to our young gardeners/chefs.

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Fruit and cheese quesadillas! They’re definitely a very simple and kid friendly activity. Most importantly, FUN.

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Fruit and Cheese Quesadilla Recipe:

Ingredients

  • flat apple slices
  • raisins (we had golden raisins for this activity)
  • grapes
  • grated cheese
  • tortillas
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil

Directions: slice the grapes into smaller flatter pieces. Take a tortilla and sprinkle the cheese, apples, raisins, and grapes. Heat up and spread oil evenly onto the pan (med heat).  Lay the quesadilla onto the pan and wait til cheese melts. Serve and eat!

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A student writing in his journal about dill

The Herb Project is a fantastic project done with the older students at 24th Elementary. The students learn all aspects about herbs including identifying different types and growing their own herb bed. Eventually, the students will become herb experts, gardeners, and business people! At the end of the year, they sell the herbs to a local business so that they can understand a little bit about the farm to business to table processes.

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Students locating where the origins of dill is (Italy)

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Laurie, our resident herb expert extraordinaire, leading the discussion about dill

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Some ideas about teaching herbs to kids:

  • Herb identification: We frequently do this with students at recess. We’ll head over to the herb bed and the students will first smell the herb and share what it smells like. Then, they’ll taste it and describe what it tastes like. We do this with 3 or 4 herbs so that they may figure out which ones they like best.
  • Cooking: This definitely goes hand in hand with our cooking series. The students almost always head over to the herb beds to pick fresh herbs for the day’s cooking lesson. It helps them identify different herbs that go well with different recipes.
  • Seeds: Once we see that the plant has dried out, we will show students where to find seeds. We stress the importance of saving the seeds and replanting them.

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