It’s easy to round up a crew of students after school for garden exploration. This latest group was interested in what was still growing. They were mostly interested in grazing on raspberries which are still producing in abundance. Our summery crops are becoming a fading memory, but our kale, beets, carrots and potatoes are continuing to grow in the waning October light.
Kale harvesters ASP
taking clean-up seriously
Kale salad astounds with its ability to morph into palate pleasing deliciousness. Last week I discovered a new one at a restaurant in Woodstock, Vt. It had just the right balance of lemon, olive oil, tender kale leaves and, in this recipe, a bit of parmesan cheese. Additions to the basic recipe for kale salad are only limited by the imagination of the chef. Last week, these “After School” kids made a delicious salad, adding to the tang with some fresh Macintosh apple chunks.
KALE SALAD RECIPE
It was time to harvest our pumpkins last week. They were beginning to drop off the vines. We can store them at school as long as the temperature stays between 50 and 65 degrees F.
First Graders went out to harvest the crop they had planted last spring when they were a class of kindergarteners. They had grown as much and more than their plants!
finding the pie pumpkins
loading up pumpkins
While they were on their treasure hunt, one student spied a woodpecker helping itself to the ripe sunflower seeds above the pumpkin patch. See if you can find it. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
woodpecker on the sunflower
siblings at our pickling workshop
Last week Westminster Center held a dilly bean canning workshop. Families processed the beans from our garden, using our own garlic and dill seed heads. They each took home a jar of dilly beans! The rest will be served on our salad bar later in the year. Many questions were raised and answered concerning hot water bath processing and timing for these very popular pickles. We finished our pickling in just about an hour since a few participants had to get to soccer practice!
Click to open the recipe: DILLY BEANS RECIPE
finding those beans
harvester and canner
Mother and son canning
The community minded 5th graders contributed a soup to our Westminster Center School Open House last week. They combined fresh onions, garlic, tomatoes and coriander from our garden for this yummy offering. In teams, the class came together to read recipes, dice, and pulverize ingredients. They found out that the cilantro they used to make their salsa earlier had produced seeds. These seeds had a new “spice name”: coriander! As they ground the seeds with mortar and pestle, the aroma reinforced the reincarnation.
reading recipe while dicing garlic
grinding coriander seeds
They also learned about the “magic wand,” a blending tool that is soo easy to use, we rarely pull out our blender anymore!
using a wand on tomato coriander soup
cleaning up the garden
Some of these hard working children also helped take down tomato stakes in the garden. They piled them in the shed for next year.
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
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!
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
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.
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
ingredients for kale chips
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.
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
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.
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.
basil and cilantro
help with jajlapenos
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 writeup 2
experiment writeup 2
experiment writeup 3
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.
Lettuce harvest for Caesar Salad
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