A delicious result of Food Day: DDR

On the morning of National Food Day, I had prepared a soundtrack to blare from big speakers to greet the kids and the school busses. Disney, reggae, country western, Elvis—a variety of high energy songs whose lyrics were somehow linked to food. I enjoyed the loud music so much that I took the sound system out to the playground for the 9:50 recess to play it again.   A couple little first grade girls came over and started dancing with me. Truth: I can’t resist a chance to show off a few moves.  So I joined in. Dozens of kids came over and before we knew it we had a full-blown dance party on the playground. A little boy from my garden class ran to me to grab my hands, and we giggled and danced.  As I spun him around and around, he was in stiches at seeing an adult dance so unabashedly and with so little talent, and for 15 minutes we were lost in the frenzied joy of it all.

I asked the administration if we can do it again, so now every Thursday….

is Dance Dance Recess!

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Food Day Nibbles, part 2

To celebrate National Food Day at the end of October, our elementary and junior high schools presented 14 workshops about agriculture, nutrition and cooking to which students rotated all day. Here’s a taste of all of the hands-on learning that happened.

Resource Conservation District of San Diego joined us for the first time to teach kids to make pots out of newspaper and plant herb seeds for windowsill gardens.

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Julian schools alumna Jill talked about growing up in Julian, going to UC Santa Cruz and starting her own farm, Mountain Chickadee Farm .

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Chef Greg from Healthy Adventures Foundation taught another wonderful cooking class.

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Camp Stevens headed up a workshop on making fresh smoothies.  Very hands on with the kid-safe knives!

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Mr. Martineau led a fun and educational workshop on the use of animal byproducts in everyday products, having students guess ingredients.  Also included: how many bug parts in different foods—perfect for junior high!

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UC Regent’s Farm Smart program once again joined us and presented another excellent hands-on workshop on corn.

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Chef Jeremy from Jeremy’s on the Hill (and Jeremy’s on the Campus, our school lunch program) led a workshop at the junior high, talking about his restaurant and getting feedback from kids about school lunch

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Mrs. Croman taught a special music class with food songs!

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Kids pressed their own apple juice from local fruit, with help from the Julian Apple Growers Association.

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The amazing Mrs. Cantor taught the kids to make sweet and savory crepes.  Later in the day volunteers delivered extras to all of the volunteers and staff.  Final count:  280 dinner plate sized crepes.

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Local family and farm Cook Pigs joined us, talking about their sustainable operation and letting kids interact with their dog and piglet Chewbaca.

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Juicing seminars, with the bicycle blender out for a spin! Image 14 Image 8 Image 11

All students returned to their classrooms to write about the day in their garden journals.

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Not pictured:  Mr. Pierce showed and discussed food films from the Nourish series, Mr. Duffy taught a food safety class as he and Mr. Lay made chicken-veggies kebabs on the garden’s BBQ, and Miss Carmen led a class on “eating real.”

We also extended Food Day into our after-school program with more cooking classes and a fieldtrip to a local restaurant.  I played a memory game with kitchen utensils and followed with a taste test of guavas, papayas, dates, fresh figs, etc.

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If you were involved in any way, thank you!!!  Will you come again next year? :)

Food Day Nibbles, part 1

This year both our elementary school and junior high celebrated National Food Day with a full day of workshops on agriculture, nutrition, and cooking.  Fourteen experiential sessions spread between the two campuses, dozens of volunteers, and happy, engaged learners everywhere you looked made for a big, wonderful day.  So big that I’ve decided to tell the story in little “nibbles.”

In the weeks preceding the event, I had students work on food collages on foam board.  We did this during our garden lessons and in the after-school program, using seed catalogues.

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I hung the whole collection in front of school to announce the day’s theme.

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Younger students also colored these signs……

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….which adorned the main walkway.

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Afterschool students also made posters to hang around campus:

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To be continued….until then, keep calm and eat real.  :)

 

 

 

 

 

From the mouths of ambassadors

I have a small, but lovely, crop of new fifth grade Garden Ambassadors for the year.  Last week most of them “tested” to get their official t-shirts.  After reading garden notes and practicing with me, they each gave the full garden tour, proving they are ready to host campus visitors by themselves.  It’s a big moment when they receive their official gear.  Here are some of their funny and profound thoughts on being ambassadors, from their applications.  Enjoy!

What do you think are good qualities for a Garden Ambassador to have?

“I think a Garden Ambassador should be sweet, charming and funny. I think they should occasionally make a joke, but not joke too much.  A good Garden Ambassador should speak to their guest with respect.  I also think that they should speak with a lot of personality, and not just speak in monotone.”

“…Garden Ambassadors, every single one of them, should have your full attention.  They should be able to control themselves and be a good example for everyone.  THEY ARE IN FIFTH GRADE!”

Why would you like to serve as a Garden Ambassador?

“I enjoy meeting new people!  I also want to put to the test how charming and funny I can be without blowing it. I find that meeting lots of new, eccentric people with expose me to different personalities.”

“My Mom has a big garden.  I would love to learn a little more.”

“We are so lucky to have our own garden at our school.  I want to say to my kids when I am older that I was a loyal, helpful Garden Ambassador…I would also like to come home and tell my Mom about how Garden Ambassadors went everyday!”

What do you think you could learn from serving as a Garden Ambassador?

“I will learn how to talk to people that I’ve just met as if I’ve known them forever!  I will also learn lots and lots of plant names!”

“I think I or anyone could learn how to care for other things that are not yours.  I think we will learn how long and hard people work on our garden just for us to have a garden at our school. We could learn all of the plants and know that you are spending time on something that is worth it!  I am so happy that I might be a Garden Ambassador!”

Me too.  :)

 

 

Mary Poppins and gardening

In ev’ry job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game

From Spoonful of Sugar in Mary Poppins

Yet again, Mary is spot on, and I’ve applied her insights this week in the garden with children.

Thanks to Julian Pathway’s tireless persistence in applying for an after-school program grant, our elementary school now has a full-fledged set of programs before and after school for children.  I work with the program on Wednesday, teaching two garden electives and one other (this cycle it’s Greek and Latin roots, which being the word nerd, I love.)

When students arrive at after-school program, they have already had a day of school, so we’ve designed these garden classes to be different from the formal lessons I teach during the school day.  After-school gardening is longer (45 minutes) and with less children (10-12), so we can really get work done.  But how to do that and make it engaging?

Last week I realized we needed to clear out a lot of rotting apples around the trees.  A good cultural practice, removing rotting fruit keeps the area free from possible infestation of other critters.  As such, I had the kids gather ten apples, and then we had a carnival-style “rotten apple compost olympics” with the kids standing behind a line and trying to toss the fruit into compost bins marked with different points.  We kept scores, played a second round, and had to go to a championship tiebreaker.  (Shamelessly, I won by one point.)  Voila!—hundreds of apples composted.  (And they left with big smiles on their faces.)

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This week I wanted to re-mulch our baby apple and pear trees with some donated wood chips, which were a little distance from the trees.  First we had a short chat about social insects and how small creatures working in cooperation can do huge things, like build massive termite mounds… or mulch 8 trees in 20 minutes.  Then we then set up a “mulch brigade” and got the assembly line going.  The kids worked incredibly hard, and we were all amazed at what we accomplished in a short time.  Then we went and tossed a few more apples, and they asked if we could go both “games” again next week.

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Thanks Mary!  Practically perfect advice.

 

 

Live Well San Diego

Welcome to a new school year!  After a too-short summer, we are back at school and in the garden.  To kick off the new school year, please enjoy this article just published by our district’s partner Live Well San Diego about our school programs and Julian Pathways.

I look forward to another year in the garden with you!