Stuffed and Happy: Food Day 2015

Before the really big Food Day is upon us, I’d like to share some glimpses of Food Day 2015 at Julian Elementary and Julian Junior High.  It was a minimum day, and we had 15 workshops between the two campuses.  Students went to 5-6 of them for thirty minutes each.

In the weeks before the event, I began making this “eat a rainbow” collage with after school students, using photos from seed catalogues:


It turned out really cool:


It was too wet and windy to hang it in front of the school as planned (along with two huge banners that read “Eat a Rainbow Every Day!”) so it became a nice backdrop for a storybook and craft session on the importance of eating foods of all different colors for a healthy diet.


The UC Farm Smart joined us for the third year running, and as usual, they delivered a visual, hands-on, super engaging lesson.  This year’s topic: carrots.


Students used orange dots to conduct a poll after a taste test: fresh carrots, canned carrots or no carrots at all.


Another wildly popular instructor, Chef Greg from Healthy Adventures Foundation taught kids how to make vegetarian sushi.


A superteam of teachers, present and former (Lark, Nancy, Kathy, Shirley) presented lessons on “eating a rainbow.”  A mini-lesson on the health benefits of each color was followed by fruit and veggie bingo and fruit kabobs—kids that ate all the colors left with a little rainbow sticker on their shirts.


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Food Day would not be Food Day without Teak and Harvey representing for the Julian Apple Growers with apple pressing for juice and apple slice taste tests.

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The amazing folks from Camp Stevens led a composting workshop, demonstrating their teaching flexibility by switching from the garden to the cafeteria when it started to pour, hauling in mounds of unsifted compost and wheelbarrows.


Mrs. Croman, our music teacher, leading “food songs.”


Not pictured: Ann from the Resource Conservation District teaching a lesson about monarch butterflies and the importance of protecting pollinators.

Meanwhile down at the junior high:

From the mind of our ag specialist, Mr. Martineau:  Students walk through eight stations, tracing all of the parts of a pizza to their origins and making little pizzas as they go.  Each station had information, questions and a short video about the bread, sausage, tomato sauce, etc.

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Presenting the Duffy Cooking Show!  How cool is it that kids were making homemade granola bars with their principal and superintendent?

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Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Tellez pulled off an amazing workshop on cheese: a history of cheese, cheesemaking, cheese tasting/rating and looking at yogurt under the microscope.

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Every student did an art project with Sun Dog Studios.  See last post.


Students had a chance to talk to Joel and Chef Jeremy, who plan and cook their school lunch.  Joel and Jeremy talked to the kids about the mechanics and nutrition involved in planning a NSLP-approved lunch, and students provided them with feedback about the menu.


Not pictured:  Students watched 5 short videos from the very cool video series How does it grow?

All that, and we fit in an apple crunch on both campuses!  Later that day, afterschool students toured Mom’s Pies and each made an apple dumpling….

Thanks to all who contributed to this truly awesome day of learning!  See you next year.

Now for a nap.





“Soda is the monster we need to mash!”

As part of our Food Day program, Sun Dog Art Studios led an anti-soda art project at the junior high.  Each student made a “monster” out of a soda can in thirty minutes using construction paper, puffy paint, scissors, straws and pipe cleaners.  Teal and Tomy, the founders and art teachers of Sun Dog, were a delight to work with, and I highly recommend them to any school or organization in San Diego County.



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Sun Dog made these samples with information on soda consumption which they left with us to incorporate into our displays.


Librarian Colleen allowed us to hang half of the collection behind the checkout counter at the Julian Library the next day.  The collection will stay up through the end of November.

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I hung the other half at the Wolf Den, the junior high multipurpose room.

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Stay tuned for more wonderful reports from Food Day 2015…..


The Great Julian Apple Crunch


Today Julian Elementary and Junior High celebrated National Food Day with 15 workshops on nutrition, cooking, backyard gardening and agriculture.  It was amazing—look for upcoming posts with photos and stories.

For now, let me share a video with you.  Every year people across the country celebrate good, fresh food with an Apple Crunch event.  We did one this year, thanks to Ken and Linda Limon who visited a neighboring orchard whose owners allowed them to harvest for free, picked 400 apples, hand sorted them, packed them in flats of 50 and delivered them to cold storage in the school kitchen.  We washed and bagged them by class size.  Students wore their red No Excuses shirts to school, Garden Ambassadors held up big leaves, and our principal got on the roof to film the event.  The weather was sketchy today but it held just long enough…..five minutes later, downpour!  Simply amazing.

Thank you Linda and Ken—you made this happen!



When a garden photo says a lot

Last week I posted the picture below on our afterschool program’s Facebook page with the caption “Students explore the garden, using microscopes.”

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Our principal “liked” it, writing “This photo says a lot.”  When I asked him to “Say more!” he responded with this comment which I thought deserved its own post.  Thanks Mr. Copeland for being a principal who “gets it” on so many levels!

…..I see a school and a beautiful garden in a mountain community. And very young ladies (even a princess) being given tools that they will use later in life. Tool use that begins at a young age accelerates the development of familiarity and confidence. These tools are now theirs, not something they might see being used by special (often male) scientists in movies. They’re learning manual dexterity of the rotary adjustments – differential focal adjustment. They’re discovering eye dominance and monocular use of the eye, and thus, the brain. I see outdoor education too, and the interaction with weather and the environment. And that’s just what comes to mind readily…



Why is Mrs. Tree crying?

During garden lessons, I try to stay open to unscripted moments.  If an unusual insect shows up, if pods have just erupted in seeds, if a child sees something beautiful that has escaped my notice, I want to be ready to stop everything for the teachable moment. It happens a lot in the garden.

At the beginning of the year, I hung a tree face on one of the junipers and led the students by it on the way out of the garden, waiting for squeals and pointed fingers.  After seeing Mr. Tree, they speculated that Mrs. Tree might be the next one to show up.  Show up she did.

When we discovered her a couple weeks later, one of the girls told me she needed a “neckwus.” I agreed and sure enough, during our next class, we noticed that Mrs. Tree was all blinged out.


We got closer.  And as we looked at her, I noticed there was a single, silvery drip of tree sap right under her eye.  Look!


Suddenly we had the most perfect creative writing/thinking prompt as I asked students, “Why do you think Mrs. Tree is crying?”

And I couldn’t have made up the next three comments:

Student #1:  She’s crying because she’s so happy to live in the school garden.


Student #2: She’s crying because Mr. Tree gave her a necklace!

(so sweet!)

And then Student #3:

She’s crying because her necklace is too tight!


September/October garden tour (aka photo dump)

Every month or so I like to walk around the garden and catch y’all up on new things, beginning this month with our “farm to school” banners which Mr. Wells just hung outside the after school club.  This set features produce grown in San Diego County in the fall.  They add a lively, colorful element to this outside eating/studying area.


My Garden Ambassadors are a hardworking group.  These two take charge of lunchtime composting.


They love leaving me notes—a habit I encourage by leaving them notes back.



Mr. Copeland stops by as the K/1st graders were showing off our new set of gloves in after school garden class.

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Lots of cool season planting due to having lots of space due to our spectacularly lousy summer crop:


In after school class, sometimes we just play games in the garden.  With everyone occupied with fun stuff at the table, I can pull one or two students out for small jobs or teachable moments.


We have been making cinnamon maple applesauce in our longer format classes during the school day.

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I’ve been printing the recipe in Thursday’s bulletin.  If students make it at home, they send me a photo, and I invite them to enjoy lunch in the school garden with friends.

Grace and applesauce

At school:


At home:



Finally, I’ve slowly been collecting “seasonal touches” to decorate the garden.  I saw this years ago at a school garden in San Fransisco when our garden was just getting started, and it was too much to consider at the time.  But now, I’m ready. Garage sales are a great place to find decor out of season.  This came from the Methodist Church’s rummage sale, and I think it adds a lovely autumn touch.  (Also, I bought the over-the-door wreath hanger which keeps the arrangement in place.)


Garden Ambassadors wanted to put up Halloween decorations so they hung webs and spiders—appropriate for the garden!

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Up next:  Why is Mrs. Tree crying?  (Possibly my favorite post ever, next time.)

Thank you Sage Garden Project!

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that this year we are working in partnership with  the Sage Garden Project who has generously gifted us with funds for a garden educator position, access to their curriculum and a scholarship to the Edible Schoolyard Academy this past summer. (Scroll down to read five posts about that magical experience.)  We were thrilled to welcome them to campus two weeks ago for the first time.  Garden Ambassadors made this poster for them.


Garden Ambassadors greeted Program Director Dawn Mayeda and Garden Instructor Karen Saake at the front of the school with an apple pie—our local dessert!  Then we spent the morning giving them a tour, introducing them around school and receiving items included in the Sage Garden award….


A huge treat that comes with the grant package is a fully equipped cart which can be wheeled around campus for cooking demos.  Unpacking all of the items that go in it was like Christmas morning.  Here I’ve displayed it all in one place.  Notice the mirror flips around to be a white board.  Feel free to drool.

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Also included in our box of garden treats were beautiful posters and banners which we promptly hung in the garden room and the garden.

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Julian Elementary is very proud to be an recipient of a Sage Garden Project grant.  Thank you to everyone involved for helping to grow our garden program!