kernels into mill
If you could look down into this hand crank mill, you would see an auger-like screw that feeds the hard flint corn kernels into the two grinding plates. Students in the fifth grade learned how this machine works and compared it to familiar uses (like the auger used to drill holes for ice fishing, or a farm combine). A quick ancient history lesson and a new/old term for the machine: the “Archemedean Screw,” accompanied a short physics lesson:
The Archimedean screw is an example of simple machine application that has survived the ages to fit diverse products in the modern era. Historians date the first evidence of Archimedean screw use around 250 B.C., and it is so-named because tradition suggests it was invented by the Syracusan natural philosopher and scientist Archimedes.
Archimedean screws are generally used to transport material. An irrigation system is a good example of this mechanism. A screw can be positioned over a reservoir. When it spins, water is pushed up the length of the screw to the end of the threads, where it is deposited, generally over an arid, planted land. Other liquids use Archimedes screws as well. A combine, which is used on farms to harvest crops like grains and hay, is essentially a horizontal Archimedes screw that grabs the plants from the ground and feeds them into a container. In these instances, an Archimedes screw will be called a “screw conveyor,” but it is basically the same.
While they played with the name ‘Archemedean,’ fifth graders helped each other to hold the mill in place. Together they ground more than enough flint corn from our garden to make cornbread for their class. The recipe follows:
click here: Grandmother’s Cornbread
grinding flint corn kernels
keeping the meal in the bowl
kernels off cobb
kernels into mill
cracking eggs, delicate work
adding brine and storing jars
A group of dedicated multi-age students met weekly this fall to learn about where their food comes from. One of the assignments was pickling our garden beet harvest for the school salad bar. Last year pickled beets were a huge hit for students and teachers so this year we planted more of them. Students followed a recipe and doubled fractions to create the brine. I precooked the beets ahead of time and let them cool for easy removal of their skins. Slicing and prepping was no problem for even the youngest students. Our new Master Gardener candidate, Kathleen Hacker, was on hand to help with math and reading.
adding brine through funnel
adding brine and storing jars
following a recipe
Click on recipe for: Pickled Beets
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.
cloves in rows
planting and covering
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 leave 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!
teacher directions for drying popcorn
pulling back leaves
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.
Look what I found!
taking down structures
kale will keep growing through November
volunteer from the Master Gardener program
taking down the corn
thinning raspberry canes
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.
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
finished counting corn
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
How many seeds here?
first grade mathematicians
verifying seed estimates
marigold seed count
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.
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
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
kids in charge
reaching for a raspberry muffin
Kale continues to grow outdoors. We harvest it whenever we’re out.
kale salad small pieces
K. Boys in the Garden (Flowers for Mom)
The youngest and oldest students have been out to visit our garden this past month. Potatoes were harvested by sixth graders. They’re stored in a cool spot at generous Harlow Farm for use during the winter months. You can see in the background that our popcorn and flint corn remain to be harvested next week.
Our garden will be tilled and we’ll choose a spot to plant garlic in early November. It will winter over and start showing shoots next spring….sometimes through the last of the snow.
6 th grade potatoes
digging potatoes 6th
Digging potatoes gr. 6
The last of the carrots were dug up and washed in our new outdoor sink. Thank you, Adam Hallock, for installing it! The tomato stakes are being collected for next year.
There are many garden memories to tide us over until the next warm sunny spring day……we may have some greens growing in our new hoop house even before then!
digging up sweet potatoes 2nd grades
Thanks to the Vermont Community Garden Network, we were able to plant sweet potato slips last summer. The second graders came out to harvest them a week ago.
I’ve never grown sweet potatoes. They grow from ‘slips,’ cuttings from last year’s potato vines. They love warm soil; sometimes putting a dark tarp over them helps them along. They produce a LOT of vines that have to be cleared back before digging them up. They come in all shapes and sizes. They never fail to astonish kids and grown-ups alike when they’re being harvested.
looking for potatoes
strangely shaped potatoes
sweets and whites
peeling sweet potatoes
The amount of teamwork and the kids’ use of age appropriate metaphors (“It’s like a loose tooth!”) are pretty impressive in a video I took, which unfortunately can’t be uploaded.
The second graders weighed their harvest and they nicknamed the largest potato, “Big Red.”
We baked some potatoes into fries. They’re pretty sweet already, but as the harvested potatoes age in a dry warm place, they’re supposed to get sweeter. We’ll see!
mixing in corn starch and olive oil