Vermont School Garden

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


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Garlic and Pizza

simmering last year's tomatoes

simmering last year’s tomatoes

Now we can use our garlic, herbs  and tomatoes to make yummy pizzas. All we need is a basic pizza dough, cheese, toppings and a little time.

Pizza dough can be made ahead…even frozen (and thawed a half day before you need it). All you need are flour, salt yeast,  oil, water and a warm place for the dough to rise. 1 teaspoon of yeast dissolved in 1 1/3 cup of warm water until bubbly (5 minutes). Add 1 tsp salt, 2 Tb. oil and 4 cups of flour (or enough to create dough that feels like play dough). Knead the dough a bit (8 min) until it feels smooth and then set it back into a greased bowl. Find a warm place for the dough to rise for 3 hours. Cover it first with plastic wrap. When it doubles in size, you can put it into a zip-lock freezer bag and freeze it or roll it out right away on a floured board to make pizza! (Makes about a cookie sheet sized pizza.)

flour, yeast, salt oil and water- pizza dough

flour, yeast, salt oil and water- pizza dough

garlic cloves

onion for sauce

onion for sauce

stretching pizza dough

stretching pizza dough

last year's pesto and tomatos

last year’s pesto and tomatos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We thawed our frozen tomatoes (see above) and pesto from last summer’s garden and spilled off some of the liquid from the top of the thawed tomatoes. We sauteed garlic and onions and added the tomatoes and  some garden oregano. After the sauce boiled down (15 minutes) I used a wand to blend it. This makes it more smooth and palatable for the youngest children.

The rest of pizza making its just prep work: slicing whatever favorite veggies and cheeses go on top, rolling out the dough and spreading on the toppings. I use a rolling pin and a lot of elbow grease to make a thin pizza dough. Keep adding flour as your roll.The kids added some ground flint cornmeal to the greased pizza pans before putting the dough in. This gives the dough a cushion of air to rest on while cooking and helps it to become crisp.

adding cheese

adding cheese

slicing onions for pizza topping

slicing onions for pizza topping

spreading tomato sauce

spreading tomato sauce

everyone gets a slice

everyone gets a slice

fantasy-pizza-template-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire up the oven to 500 and when it’s hot, put in your assembled pizza. It doesn’t take long to cook. The only snafu is having to wait for it to cool before you can sink your teeth into it! While you’re waiting, click on the ‘fantasy pizza’ template and go wild designing your own pizza!


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Fall Garlic Planting 2014

Last Summer's Garlic Harvest

Last Summer’s Garlic Harvest

Last summer our teen crew harvested and braided the garlic we had planted in the fall of the previous year. This year, the cycle continues. Dena Weiss-Tisman’s third graders came out to plant garlic just before our Thanksgiving break. Parent, Amy Rice Sciacca donated horse manure again this year. It’s one of the best fertilizers for healthy garlic growth. We have about 25 gallons for a 25 foot row. Last year’s garlic bulbs seemed a bit small. This year I introduced a new variety from our local Putney grower, Marissa Miller at Lost Barn Farm.

I built a plateau from our newly tilled earth and mixed in the manure. (Fourth graders are a bit squeamish about manure.) Then the kids came out to break up garlic bulbs into cloves  and plant them (about 6 inches apart). They were covered with a nice blanket of straw (thank you Paul Harlow at Harlow Farm) and they’ll sleep and grow through the winter and spring. We hope to have a good harvest again next July.

manure prep

manure prep

burying cloves

burying cloves

cloves in rows

cloves in rows

planting and covering

planting and covering

working together

working together

straw blanket

straw blanket


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Popcorn Update: Drying the Harvest

counting by threes

counting by threes

Mr. Cafferky, our new fourth grade teacher and his assistant, Mr. B. have led their class in a post harvest popcorn  experiment in their classroom. Fourth grade math is all about multiplication and division. I’m hoping that these students will get some firsthand experience counting by threes as they decorate the ceiling of their classroom with bunches of drying popcorn. We won’t leavebundles of popcorn the popcorn up to dry for as long as we did last fall. It already seems “pop-worthy”. One of our problems with school popcorn is knowing when the little kernels are hydrated enough to pop. I think we’ve waited too long last year. The result was very crunchy half-popped popcorn. The good news is that popcorn kernels can be re-hydrated simply by adding water and refrigerating!

teamwork tying

teamwork tying

teacher directions for drying popcorn

teacher directions for drying popcorn

pulling back leaves

pulling back leaves


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Putting Our Garden to Bed

Tilling the garden.

Tilling the garden.

On one of the last lingering warm days of fall, classes came out to the garden to help clear away some of the larger debris before tilling. Mike Zaransky, a new Westminster farmer came to help us “put the garden to bed” for the winter. He took time to talk with the Kindergarteners about the changes made to the soil. He even encouraged them to run through a section that he had tilled to see how it felt under their feet. Mike really helped to spread the joy of observation and change in our garden. We appreciate the time he took to share his love of farming.

MIke 2MIke 3

Look what I found!

Look what I found!

taking down structures

taking down structures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kale will keep growing through November

kale will keep growing through November

volunteer from the Master Gardener program

volunteer from the Master Gardener program

magic beans

magic beans

taking down the corn

taking down the corn

teamwork

teamwork

wheelbarrow help

wheelbarrow help

thinning raspberry canes

thinning raspberry canes


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Corn Harvest

arms full

arms full

Fourth graders traditionally plant and harvest corn from our garden. This is the time of year for drying popcorn for their schoolmates’ weekly snack program. Some of the corn they harvested was flint corn. They will dry that type of corn for grinding into corn meal later in the year.

 

flint corn

flint corn

teaching first graders about popcorn

teaching first graders about popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right now, though, they were estimating and predicting how much corn they would be harvesting by doing a sample count in a 3 by 3 foot area of the corn rows.

estimating corn crop yield

estimating corn crop yield

 

sorting corn

sorting corn

finished counting corn

finished counting corn


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Measuring the Marigolds: First Grade Work

close-up marigold seeds

close-up marigold seeds

Using her own experiences as a gardener, first grade teacher, Kathy Hewes helped her class gather marigold seeds to conserve. In addition to saving the seeds from flowers, the class estimated how many seeds they would find in one flower. As the garden class moved into the school building, students were buzzing about big and BIGGER numbers. Look at some of their work below. (click to enlarge)

seed recycling lesson

seed recycling lesson

grade one estimate

How many seeds here?

How many seeds here?

irst grade mathematicians

first grade mathematicians

verifying seed estimates

verifying seed estimates

marigold seed count

marigold seed count


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Last Harvest Bonus: Beets, Scarlet Runner Beans and Celeriac (What IS Celeriac?)

celeriac

celeriac

After School sixth graders discovered enormous beets when they went out to harvest last Friday. In addition, they pulled up all the celeriac, a root vegetable relative of celery. It can be roasted, pureed and served in fancy restaurants for big bucks. It can also be peeled, diced and used in soups for a delicious mild celery flavor. I’m sure students would even like it raw, peeled and sliced like carrots, with a dip. We have PLENTY of it, so we’ll keep you posted as to its uses.

giant beets

giant beets

washing beets

washing beets

carrot and beet harvest

the last carrots out

the last carrots out

We washed and stored our beets, carrots and few stray onions. The scarlet runner beans were harvested and shelled. They’re now drying for use during the winter. I put them on a cookie sheet.

scarlet runner beans drying

scarlet runner beans drying

magic beans

It’s great to give the kids a sense that they can use produce from their garden year-round. We’ve already made muffins with our frozen raspberries.

making raspberry  muffins

making raspberry muffins

dry ingredients

kids in charge

kids in charge

reaching for a raspberry muffin

reaching for a raspberry muffin

Kale continues to grow outdoors. We harvest it  whenever we’re out.

kale salad small pieces

kale salad small pieces

clean-up crew

clean-up crew