Vermont School Garden

A visit to a Vermont public school garden through the seasons.


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Scarlet Runner Beans

Elizabeths photo

These magic beans will be dried and added to soups during the winter. If you saw an earlier post, they were shown in their blossom stage, winding their way around the shade house. This is my first year growing scarlet runners so I hope I’m drying them them the right way. I was given the starter beans by Marissa Miller, a young farmer who lives down the road from me. She recommended pulling the plants up by the roots in the fall before frost and hanging them upside down to dry.  My plants were so strongly entwined with the shade house saplings that I had to perform major surgery to cut them free.

Then, through a series of trial and error, I cut them free of moisture producing leaves and I found seedling tray supports to lay the beans in. The trays fit perfectly in the rafters of the tool shed. Now, if the mice don’t get them first, maybe they’ll dry there for a few months. Then the fifth graders can shell them and cook them with the other “three sisters.”

scarlet runner bean blossoms

scarlet runner bean blossoms

harvest

harvest

drying tray

drying tray

drying in the rafters

drying in the rafters

 

UPDATE ON THE SCARLET RUNNERS: This shed wasn’t a great place to keep the beans for drying. The onesthat hadn’t already dried on their vines got frosted and began to rot. Next year we’ll have to try a warmer storage place. it’s tricky knowing when to take in the beans here in Vermont where the temps can dip below freezing in late September. We’ll shell those that were spared and buy more from Marissa Miller, the local farmer who gave us the beans to plant last spring.

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October Fun Run

Elaine checking woods runners

Elaine checking woods runners

Elaine Gordon has been the inspiration behind seven years of a series of Fun Run celebrations at the Westminster Schools. An athlete and a firm believer in the benefits of exercise for students and adults, Elaine works tirelessly to inspire the community to get out and run during these events. A rainbow array of free T-shirts have marked past Fun Runs. Students wear their shirts proudly throughout the year. Many parents and staff members contribute to the success of our Fun Run tradition, now officially organized by parent, Stacie Illingworth. There are ‘toe rings’ awarded to all runners each time they complete a quarter mile circuit (which includes our school garden). Even the Kindergarteners can be heard adding quarter miles to come up with the mile or two they’ve run! Brave trail runners are allowed to cross our neighboring property and do a 2.5 mile circuit in nearby Evan’s Woods.

Line up before run

Line up before run

Jennie Perry chaperoning trail run

Jennie Perry chaperoning trail run

Russell Williams and Elaine leading warmup

Russell Williams and Elaine leading warmup


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Making Garden Vegetable Soup for Open House

queen of the harvest

queen of the harvest

Ten first and second graders and one fifth grader gleaned in our garden to make a vegetable soup. They found a colorful assortment of early fall vegetables. We brought their finds indoors, washed up, and began cutting the veggies into bite sized pieces. We didn’t have any onions so I brought some onions, pre-diced, from home After sauteeing these in a few tablespoons of olive oil, we added the childrens’ cut up beans, beets, tomatoes, kale, peppers, potatoes, lettuce and celery. Did I miss anything? Organic chicken stock completed the dish. Just pour on enough to cover vegetables. Beets added a colorful rosy compliment to the greens. When the vegetables were tender the soup was done. I just added a few tablespoons of vinegar to add  flavor interest. The children were so excited to be contributing this soup to our open house potluck supper.

found beans

looking for veggies

looking for veggies

Katalina's pepepr

pepper gleaners

pepper gleaners

look at these beans

look at these beans

careful dicing

careful dicing

cutting celery: Watch what you're doing!

cutting celery: Watch what you’re doing

dicing beets

dicing beets

stirring the soup

stirring the soup

simmering soup

simmering soup


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Corn Stalk Harvest

using a shovel

 

 

 

Grace digging

digging digging

digging digging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, we let nothing go to waste in our school garden. In October, Westminster Schools traditionally hold an open house for parents and students. there’s a pot luck soup and bread supper before students take their parents to show them their classrooms. Each year the school is decorated for this event. There is no shortage of corn growing in Westminster, but most of it gets chopped up into silage—not our popcorn stalks. Students from the fourth grade came out to the garden and helped dig up the stalks, cut off the roots and stack them for decorating the school. I wasn’t sure how they would handle their jobs, but I didn’t need to worry about this crew. They quickly fell into line and worked together to get the job done without many reminders. Most stayed on through their recess to finish up the work!

among the corn rows

using a clipper

using a clipper

organized team effort

organized team effort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wheelbarrow ride

wheelbarrow ride

 

 

stalks stacked and ready

stalks stacked and ready


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Popcorn Harvest , Grade 4, 2013

Great harvest this year!

Great harvest this year!

Fourth graders looked at the two rows of popcorn they planted last spring and they estimated how many ears would be harvested. Then they got to work, (with a few breaks to run through the rows). In teams they harvested three ears of corn, peeled back the husks and tied the ‘triplets’ together. If you’ve never done this, it may sound simple but it isn’t. If you aren’t careful the husks slip right off the ears. In our plan for drying, the corn is hung similar to decorative corn, in threes in a cool dry place. This year our custodian, Adam Hallock, rigged some drying lines right in the dining hall at school. That way, as the popcorn dries, the children can look at it and remember where their weekly popcorn snack came from. Many thanks, Adam! I will get a photo of our drying popcorn to add to this entry.

You may be wondering about the loose ears of popcorn. Nancy Bladyka, fourth grade teacher will let the students experiment with other environments for drying the popcorn ears. Some will go in their classroom. Some will go into a freezer. Students will predict the best environment for drying. Then in January, we’ll hold a popcorn “pop-off.” May the best environment win!

triplet

gathering triplets into bins

gathering triplets into bins

triplet 2

wheeling husks to the compost

wheeling husks to the compost


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Eating A Garden Rainbow

Kathy, Mary and class

Nola crunching celery

Nola crunching celery

sounding words

sounding words

The First Graders in Kathy Hewe’s and Mary Bissell’s class challenged themselves to find something to eat in every color of the rainbow. They were surprised to discover new tasty treats after vowing that they “hated celery and peppers.” Being the newly minted writers that they are, most of the records they kept were words in invented spelling. (I hardly saw any drawing!) You could hear them saying each sound of the words they were writing aloud as they grappled with their new form of communicating. So exciting to witness! CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE

crunching on a beanbean munchingkale munchng

writing about kale

writing about kale

sounding tomato

sounding tomato

note taking green things

note taking green things

looking closely at a rspberry

Xavier and Tegan writing

Xavier and Tegan writing

another way to write raspberry

another way to write raspberry


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Cool Kale Math

kale harvestersThird graders worked on the concept of multiplication while they harvested kale for kale chips. If all 12 students present that day harvested four kale leaves each, how many kale ribs would there be when we were finished de-ribbing? I can tell you that there was a LOT of kale for making kale chips! Students estimated the answer to the problem and then brought the ribs back to the classroom (4 each) to check their work!

It’s so easy to make kale chips. Preheat your oven to 450. spread the torn kale leaves on a cookie sheet. Add a bit of oil and salt to taste and mix with your hands. Bake for 5 minutes then remove just to stir. Put back into the oven until all the kale is crisp (about another 5 minutes). These chips are yummy just as they are, but you can experiment with different flavors of salt (garlic, onion) or add a dash of cider vinegar when out of the oven.

 

(CLICK TO ENLARGE ANY IMAGE)

bowls of torn kale

kale rib multiplication

kale rib multiplication