Vermont School Garden

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


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Species Interdependence: 4th Grade Interpretation

Mr. McCafferky: "Check out this bean!

One of the most important lessons learned in school is how much we depend on one another. We begin to understand and appreciate that fact even before we enter school. Here in Mr. Cafferky’s  fourth grade, students are grappling with the concept of how different species depend on one another. The first part of this question is vocabulary related.  What is interdependence? What is a species? It’s wonderful to participate in  the learning that occurs between students as they listen to each others’ ideas. The next question: How can we use the garden to illustrate species interdependence?

For this part of our activity, I asked students to read about the plight of the honeybee. They learned about the importance of honeybee pollination in our garden and in the world of agriculture. A few already knew that the honeybee benefits from the nectar found in our garden flowers. They also learned about colony collapse disorder, a syndrome that is eliminating our important honeybee pollinators at an alarming rate.

looking at a young bean

looking at a young bean

using a magnifying glass

using a magnifying glass

We went out to the garden to check on our new beans. They provide a great illustration of the pollination needed to create fruit from a flower. We saw very few honey bees, but a lot of bumble bees, another species of bee that helps  pollinate. I think the most exciting part of this experience was looking up close with magnifying glasses. I hope to use them again soon with these budding scientists!


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After School Garden Cooking: September 16th

muffins and kale smoothies

Everyone loves muffins. This group harvested raspberries and baked them into yummy muffins. Each child, from first grade to 4th, had a direction to follow. They worked together to combine recipe ingredients and in less than an hour they were munching on warm muffins. (Click on recipe below.)

Raspberry Muffin Recipe

measuring flourmeasuring milkmeasuring flouroil and sugard combined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We added a beverage for our snack: kale smoothies. Kale, number one nutritious veggie, is easy to disguise in a smoothie. More about smoothies, next week, when we make them again and turn them into frozen popsicles. Our kale is doing just fine in the garden and it will be there for us right through October.


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Garden Art and Kale math Grade 3

4 kale leaves each

4 kale leaves each

Last week Dena Weiss-Tisman’s third graders visited the garden twice; once to harvest a certain number of kale leaves each and another sunny afternoon, to watercolor and sketch their impressions of the garden. Step aside, Monet!

waiting for directions

waiting for directions

de-ribbing kale

de-ribbing kale

ingredients for kale chips

ingredients for kale chips

chips ready to store

chips ready to store

When 12 of the students were asked to predict how many kale leaves they would collect in all if each student picked 4, the answers varied depending on the math abilities of the children. They listened attentively to their friends’ thinking. Then some changed their predictions. Ultimately, Dena helped illustrate the solution by having the class make arrays with the kale leaves they had harvested….hands-on multiplication. Then students de-ribbed the kale and we used the leaves to make kale chips, everyone’s favorite. (Recipe below.)

Kale Chips Recipe

Later, the class took watercolors out to the garden and found a quiet place to paint. They all quickly focused on their little part of the garden world. This is one of my favorite garden activities. Art show to follow soon.

garden art 1garden art 2garden art 3garden art 4

garden art 6garden art 7


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September Taste Test

 

taste test September

taste test September

Every month our entire school will get to taste the featured vegetable of the month and rate it. The person in charge of making incredible bulletin boards in our dining hall as well as organizing student vote takers, is Stacie Illingworth. Student vote on whether they like the fruit or veggie they’re trying, whether they would try it again, or whether they’re not yet ready to like what they tried. Stacie is also responsible for creating interesting facts and riddles about the featured fruit or veggie. These are posted on the napkin holders at each table for kids and their teachers to read while eating lunch.Votes are taken and tallied by students.

getting ready for taste test

getting ready for taste test

 

 

taste test survey

 

 

This month’s taste test was golden delicious apple slices. Russell Allen, Westminster Orchardist has been donating bushels of apples to our school for years. Stacie posted his picture on our cafeteria bulletin board.


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Salsa Experiment: Grade Five

 

testing salsas

testing salsas

How hot can you stand it? That’s what the fifth graders and their teacher, Atasi Das were wondering, as students were required to make a plan for inventing their own salsa. On their journey, which began with questions they posed while visiting the garden, they learned about what make a jalapeno pepper hot.

cilantro

cilantro

basil and cilantro

basil and cilantro

dicing onions

dicing onions

dissecting jalapeno

dissecting jalapeno

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

help with jajlapenos

help with jajlapenos

tomato prep

tomato prep

slicing tomatoes

slicing tomatoes

More jalapenos!

More jalapenos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

inventing salsa

inventing salsa

 

Sampling salsa

Sampling salsa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After prep work, students recorded types and amounts of ingredients in their salsas as if  they were creating a recipe. Then they tried and rated their peers’ concoctions. Some were pretty hot! The recorded the mode and mean for hotness on a scale from 1 to 10 for their recipes. Information was collected and published. (Click on any image to enlarge.) Stay tuned for results.

experiment write up 1

experiment write up 1

experiment writeup 2

experiment writeup 2

experiment writeup 2

experiment writeup 2

experiment writeup 3

experiment writeup 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Dietetic Grad. Students Visit the garden

Reach for the sky

Reach for the sky

Keene State University Dietetic students graduate from a rigorous undergrad program heavy in the sciences. They then take a year of coursework and field study that further prepares them to become dieticians. This year the students and their professor, Karen Balnis, came to visit our garden on a beautiful fall morning. They had the opportunity to interview parent, Stacie Illingworth, our school chef, Kim Kinney and our principal, Steve Tullar, visionary of our all school garden, as well as Elaine Gordon, whose grant writing skills have enabled our school to move forward on a variety of health initiatives. We hope that one of these KSU students will consider a placement at our school.

Reach for the sky

 

Lettuce harvest for Caesar Salad

Lettuce harvest for Caesar Salad

Dietetics students visit garden with Karen Balnis

Dietetics students visit garden with Karen Balnis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elaine later helped me to transport garden produce to the Fifth Grade for a salsa experiment. Check out our next blog to see the experiment in action!

Garden produce down to the fifth grade

Garden produce down to the fifth grade


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Sweet Corn Salsa

 

cutting kernels off cob

cutting kernels off cob

Last week we were hoping to add our own sweet corn to the lunch menu. Some critters had beaten us to the harvest. (This would make a good  observational study for a class trip to the garden.)

harvesting sweet corn

harvesting sweet corn

happy harvester

happy harvester

shuckng corn

shuckng corn

5 ears of corn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the harvest didn’t amount to enough for the kitchen menu. We DID have enough corn to make salsa for the salad bar. The jalapeno peppers we planted last spring and a red onion from chef Kim gave us just the right balance of heat. A bit of salt and apple cider vinegar made our sweet and sour salsa so yummy that the cooks were reluctant to give any away! Next time we can add sweet peppers and maybe a few tomatoes.

finished corn salsa

finished corn salsa