September 2011


With our garden classes underway and our cooking classes yet to begin, we have been taste-testing our homegrown goods.  And it has been a success! If the students’ excitement for seconds is any indication of flavor, we are growing some tasty fruit!!

Getting ready to try the melon!

Here are some of our beautiful apples begging to be picked.

Our Fuji Apples

Come experience this beauty firsthand at our next workday: October 8th from 9 am until 12 pm we will be in the garden working on some garden beautification projects.  Then at 12 pm Master Gardener and fruit tree expert, Herb Machleder, will be teaching a fruit tree pruning workshop.  All are welcome, so come and join us for the fun!!

Autumnal Equinox, you have arrived with such grace and style; I hardly saw you coming! But it is true, today is the first official day of Fall and I am so pleased that it is here. And even though we are still wearing t-shirts and shorts around the garden, I can certainly feel there is magic in the air.

That lovely shift of the seasons changing is ever present in our fruit orchard. Apples are in season! They are ripe and ready and are desperately wanting us to enjoy them (I’m not entirely sure that last bit is true but like to think it is!).

This afternoon we had Ms. Lam’s kindergarten class come in for the first time. It was wonderful watching them get oriented in the garden. We learned the garden’s cardinal rules and promised, hands over hearts, with fervor, to respect each of the rules that protect both us and all that live in the garden. We went on a guided scavenger hunt and stood next to purple flowers, the red leaves of chard, aging corn stalks, youthful cornstalks and finally, we scattered about to find the tallest plant in the garden — the sunflower.

The Sunflower Tower

 Each item we found was touched gently, smelled, and fully appreciated. Children are so wonderful. Ms. Lina taught them the 6 parts of the plant song which brought them from teeny, tiny seeds to full grown plants, and with all the might of their little bodies, they lifted their arms as leaves and said, “leaves!” and stood taller as their plant-bodies grew taller. I could have sworn that there were children blossoming all over the place! That may have been the best part of the day but we still had to harvest those apples that were begging to be enjoyed. And with that, Miss Cassie taught them what it meant to harvest, and they hopped their ways over to the apple orchard where they each got to harvest an apple.

Orchard Hops

We sliced them up and there they sat, attentive and patient, for their little slice of heaven. We took a moment to appreciate the fruit and discussed what it smelled like, what it sounded like (the ocean!) and what we thought it would taste like. Then the crunching began, the oooohs and mmmmms were quick to follow. Success!

School is back in session and we couldn’t be happier.

 

It’s great to see the kids again — it’s shocking how much they grew over the summer! I know, we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, we spend all summer with plants that have completed their entire life cycles in the last few months — an extra inch or two shouldn’t be that big a deal. Nonetheless, it’s always kind of a shock to say goodbye to little kids in June and have them come back looking like young adults.

As a special welcome back during the first week of school, we set up a tasting station outside the garden. One day, we provided chips (low sodium, whole grain, of course) and salsa made fresh with ingredients from the garden. The next day we had pomegranates and apple slices. Students were lined up across the playground to taste the fruits of their labors. Since then, they have come in every day asking for more — who says kids won’t eat healthy snacks? The most popular one by far was the pomegranates. We’ve had rich conversations almost daily about the flavor profiles and nutritional values of pomegranates; we can’t wait to see how they respond to the snacks that are up next!

For the last two weeks, we’ve been teaching classes. So far, it’s been mostly the younger grades — kids who come in wide-eyed in awe at the beauty before them. Today, in fact, a first grader stopped about three yards in to the garden, put her hand to her chest, and exclaimed aloud, “It’s SO BEAUTIFUL!” Moments like that make us a little teary-eyed and are a great reminder for why we do the work we do. We have kids touring the garden, reminding us of the rules, and generally getting ready for the school year. Sadly, we don’t have any photos of that. But we do have this cool shot of one of our students helping us clear out dead sunflowers to prep the beds for the new school year:

Next month we get to roll out our new curricula, and we can’t wait to see how it goes. Until then, we’ll bask in the beauty of the space and the excitement of the new school year.

 

We had an amazing summer at 24th Street! The time flew by amidst our hard work and engaging converstion!! A special THANK YOU to all of our amazing volunteers and interns that made our summer so fabulous.  You all worked so hard and were such great company!  Good luck on all your new adventures!!

We are gearing up to begin our gardening program and we’re all energized by the excitement of the new school year. Our garden classes begin next week and we cannot wait for all the kids to see what’s growing!  There are so many changes since June and we look forward to showing them everything.

Check out

of our

 beautiful

Cinderella

 pumpkins and

 impressive

Crenshaw

melons!

This is just a taste of what our students will harvest during cooking class!

We can't for the classes to enjoy the harvest!

We can’t wait to see what this new school year holds!!!

So, stay tuned and we will keep you posted.