It’s a bit of a job removing dry popcorn kernels from their ears. The After School kids had fun working on this project. We compared popcorn from this year’s harvest to the popcorn that had a year to dry out a bit. Here are the results:
We successfully grew our own sweet potatoes right here in Vermont. They don’t last for very long although letting them dry out for a few weeks did toughen their skins. These last potatoes were cut up by children in the After School class, boiled and mashed for the school’s annual Thanksgiving Feast.
Kale smoothies are a popular ‘end of work’ treat. Now these After School kids can make their own without help. The entire school tried out kale smoothies for their “vegetable taste test” of the month in November. A group of second graders were so in love with them after the taste test that they asked the chef if she would include smoothies on her menu. She said, “Yes!”
It’s that time in the year when kids reflect on what’s happened in the spring and summer garden and what will be coming soon enough after fall. They really enjoy cleaning up and putting things away. The youngest love to hack down corn stalks and haul debris to the compost pile. As they work, they muse over empty sunflower heads and wonder which creatures ate all of the seeds. They collect marigold flower heads and squirrel the seeds away in their pockets to see if maybe when planted they’ll grow more marigolds. They beg to bring home stray potatoes or ears of popcorn. It’s a privilege to partake in their boundless curiosity about the living world around them.
Here are some photos of children ‘putting the garden to bed for the winter.’
It’s very easy to make pizza dough at home or in school. All you need is a tablespoon of active yeast dissolved 1 1/3 cups of warm water, 2 teaspoons of oil and a teaspoon of salt and enough flour to make a soft dough. (You can search for a pizza recipe in our archives.) If you have a few hours to wait for the dough to rise, it only takes about 20 minutes from oven (500 degrees preheated) to table to make a delicious pizza for dinner! Add whatever toppings your family likes to eat on their pizza. That’s what these second graders did. Some didn’t like tomato sauce and some made mountains of garlic or pepperoni on their pizzas. Whatever they added needed to become a part of their personal pizza recipe. The students typed up their recipes on computers after they made sure that their creations tasted just right! I included photos of students who volunteered to help clean up without being asked. Way to go, Grade 2!
The best harvesting fun EVER is hunting up potatoes buried deep in the soil in unexpected bunches. When one potato is found there’s a good chance that it’s part of a cluster of growing tubers magically snuggled together underground. In June two types of potatoes were planted. We found a source for sweet potato slips at Agway in New Hampshire. Sweet potato slips are grown from the previous year’s potatoes. We tried unsuccessfully to grow our own slips last year. The Agway slips were the right type for our cooler New England soil temperatures and they delivered well! Be aware that dense vines accompany sweet potato plants. They require many strong arms to haul out of the garden as you can see in the pictures below. Yukon Gold potatoes were donated by Westminster Organics at Harlow Farm. They went into the ground as whole potatoes.The After School Program kids and the fifth graders combined forces to harvest our potatoes. Some of the crop will fill Thanksgiving baskets donated to families. Others will be stored for cooking projects. The fifth graders have already roasted a bunch, learning to cut them properly with a knife and fork when they were ready.
How many Kindergarteners get to identify the ingredients in fresh salsa by observing, smelling, tasting and remembering the names of vegetables? These lucky students and their librarian, Mandy Walsh, met in a circle to talk about what they noticed in the garden. Then they got to work identifying and combining school garden veggies with local produce to create their own salsa. The result was scrumptious, the activity, priceless. It was repeated for several classes during library periods.
Where has the month of October gone? Where have the basil plants gone? Dena Weiss-Tisman’s class has been covering the progress of the basil growing in our garden. I should have covered the basil with a sheet to protect it from cool nighttime temperatures. What was left after an early frost were the smallest leaves clinging to bunches of future seedlings. As the children stripped the leaves, we talked about the plant’s need to procreate, sending forth its seedlings for next year’s basil plants. They combined the leaves in a food processor with garlic from our garden, olive oil, parmesan cheese and a few walnuts. Voila, pesto! Was it too thick? Add more olive oil. Not salty enough? Add more parmesan cheese. When it tasted “just right,” the students packed it into plastic containers and put it into the freezer for pizza making in the winter. Of course some pesto was set aside for them to eat on crackers for snack. Thanks to former parent, Ian Conway, for this easy to follow pesto recipe! No measurements needed……just combine ingredients to taste!