Vermont School Garden

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


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Sweet Potatoes and…….Kale

Our own sweet potatoes

Our own sweet potatoes

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.

Sweet potatoes going going gon

Sweet potatoes going going gone

 

prepping sweet pot.Thanksgiving Feast sweet potatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!”

October kale copy 2

kale smoothie face

kale smoothie face

KALE SMOOTHIE RECIPE

 

 

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Fall Garden Clean-up

putting away cucumber trellis

putting away cucumber trellis

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.’

garden clean-uppilling up marigolds

cutting back raspberry canes

cutting back raspberry canes

clearing away corn stalks

clearing away corn stalks

digging weeds

digging weeds

tomatoe stakes away

tomatoe stakes away

 

 

 

 


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Pizza 101: Grade 2

observing changes

observing changes

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!

dissolving yeast

dissolving yeast

measuring salt

measuring salt

kneading

kneading

washing dishes

sweeping up

sweeping up

bringing the dough back to class to rise

bringing the dough back to class to rise

Using a graphic organizer to support writing

Using a graphic organizer to support writing

kneading dough

kneading dough


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Digging Potatoes, Digging for Gold!

WOW, big sweet potatoes!

WOW, big sweet potatoes!

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.

Look at this one!

Sweet Potato vines cleared

Sweet Potato vines cleared

Hauling the vines awayusing a spadeanother treasure discoveredproud harvesteerproud Harvesters


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October Salsa Making in the Library!

plate of ingredients

plate of ingredients

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.

introducing veggies

Discussion: what have you seen in our garden?

Discussion: what have you seen in our garden?

adding ingredientsfinished procduct

YUM!

YUM!

 


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October Harvesting: Pesto

separating basil leaves

separating basil leaves from seeds

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!

IMG_3548

Set for processing

Set for processing

Ready to taste

Ready to taste

peeling garlic

peeling garlic

adding olive oil

adding olive oil

group work

group work

Trying a bit of pesto

Trying a bit of pesto


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A DILLY OF A MORNING FOR 4TH GRADE: MAKING DILLY BEANS

DILLY BEANS READY FOR THE SALAD BAR

DILLY BEANS READY FOR THE SALAD BAR

CLICK FOR RECIPE

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Last week, Liz Wing’s 4th grade worked as a team to prepare beans for pickling. They washed and sorted beans, snipped off the stems and stuffed them into canning jars. For spiciness, they added our own garden garlic and dill and a bit of dried cayenne pepper. The brine (kosher salt, vinegar and water) and canning water was heating up in the kitchen as the kids worked together in their classroom. After the brine was added, jars were sealed and processed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. The beans will be at their “pickley”  yummiest in about two weeks. We had the best of adult help to speed us along. This class was ready to move to their next activity in 1 hour. They put up 24 quarts of dilly beans for the school to enjoy this winter. (Recipe from Putting Foods By)

washers and snappers

gralic peeling

washed bean delivery

stuffing jarsstuffing beans in jarsgarlics peeling

measuring spice

adding dill headdsquality control

adding brine

student adding brinegarden popcorn and beans

This class remembered planting the garlic we used today last fall. Garlic cloves are planted sometime in October here in Vermont and they overwinter in the ground. Garlic bulbs are ready to be harvested in July.

While we were adding brine in the cafeteria, our volunteer parent, Amy Rice Sciacca, was making popcorn for All School snack. (You can see the bowls of popped corn in the background.)


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KITCHEN VISITORS AND BEANS FOR LUNCH

harvesting beans for the kitchen

harvesting beans for the kitchen

Last week we harvested a HUGE amount of beans. They will be used in our lunch program to feed 170 hungry students and their teachers. The lovely part about this is that the beans were planted (from seed) and weeded by  July summer campers and harvested by some of the same children this September.

Beans for our school lunch with chef, Kim Kinney

Beans for our school lunch
with chef, Kim KinneY

We hosted a new class of Dietetics students from Keene State College. Many if them came from previous food service careers or had relatives who had worked in the food service industry. These new college students are determined to change the eating habits of their future clients after witnessing firsthand the effects of years of cooking with too much salt and fat. At least three of them had relatives who suffered from Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease. The students were able to interview chef  Kim Kinney and our kitchen staff. They also had a chance to talk with volunteer parent, Stacie Illingworth, who explained how we introduce our “vegetable of the month” taste tests. Stacie also puts monthly vegetable quiz questions into the sides of the napkin dispensers!

KSU students interviewing the kitchen staff

KSU students interviewing the kitchen staff

hearing about the taste on the month

hearing about the taste on the month

peppers to the school kitchen

peppers to the school kitchen

Early morning students harvested bouquets of zinnias to decorate the dining tables. Don’t come too soon, frost. We love the zinnias! They were direct sown from seed by the Second Graders last June. Zinnias and peppers were maintained during the weedy summer months by dedicated teachers who volunteered to adopt these crops!

harvesting zinnias

zinnias for the dining hall

zinnias for the dining hall


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SEPTEMBER HARVEST

 

Harvesting: September

Harvesting: September

It’s HOT and humid here in southern Vermont and we’re ready to harvest lots of veggies from our school garden. Just look at the variety of produce these guys found when they went out to pick this afternoon! We used lots of these to make kale slaw. Because we have a bumper crop of kale, we’ve also made kale chips with Ms. BT’s 2nd grade. We’re about to try experimenting with a kale ice cream recipe. Click on any photo below to enlarge and get a better pciture of the activities that are going on in our outdoor classroom garden this September!

Harvest for School

Harvest for School

Outdoor Classroom

Outdoor Classroom

playing in the popcorn

playing in the popcorn

Produce for the Kitchen

Produce for the Kitchen

Team Kale Slaw

Team Kale Slaw

Harvesting Raspberries

Harvesting Raspberries

Harvesting Kale

Kale Chips

Kale Chips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Raspberries!

August raspberries

Above you can see a healthy future for our raspberries, thanks to the diligent work of volunteer Master Gardener, Kathleen Hacker. She did her research and discovered that our raspberries were being threatened by the cane borer. See a close-up below of what to look for:

Cane borers on raspberries

The insect makes a distinctive ring around the cane, cutting off nutrients to the newly forming berries. We cut out a lot of old canes to preserve the unaffected ones. Many thanks, Kathleen!PICKING RASPBERRIES OFF OLD CANES

Students feasted on the still yummy berries from old canes. raspberry kale smoothiesThe earliest berries were used to make kale raspberry smoothies. (Just add juice, vanilla yogurt, ice and any other fruit to make a refreshing nutritious summer drink.) Looking forward to a great crop when school begins!