The Great Julian Apple Crunch

Video

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!

 

 

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.

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

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

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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:

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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.

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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:

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At home:

Ryder:applesauce

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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.)

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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.

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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….

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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!

It works, it works, it works!

Nutrition/cooking education.  Make no mistake: it works.

It’s said all the time but I’m here with hard evidence to prove it: When you grow and cook food with kids at school, in a fun, interactive way, they are more likely to try new foods and want to cook at home.

As mentioned in the last post, we made ratatouille in our garden/kitchen class.  I also sent home a letter with the recipe to each family and encouraged the kids to teach their parents the recipe.  I said, “If you do make ratatouille at home, please send me a picture.” The very next day I started receiving these:

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Once I received the picture, I visited the student’s class with congratulations,  a few questions about his/her cooking experience at home, and an invitation  to have lunch in the garden that day with a friend.  I’m thrilled that at our school “lunch in the garden” is a motivating reward, as it is sometimes hard to think of incentives that aren’t sweets/snacks or little throwaway objects.

None of this is lost on you, dear readers, but allow me to list the levels of goodness here:

-Students have a positive experience with a certain food at school and bring that excitement home.

-Students show off newly acquired skills to parents, and we all know that re-teaching is good learning.

-Families learn new recipes—in this case, one that is vegetarian, seasonal, adaptable and affordable.

-Students are congratulated and rewarded in front of their peers for extending their learning after school.

Many thanks to Wynola Flats for sourcing these delicious vegetables and ordering what I needed.  I can’t tell you how exciting it was to stop in yesterday for more ingredients and have Stacy say, “People have been coming in, buying ingredients for ratatouille….”

 

……But I love ratatouille!

Today we started our series of one-hour garden/cooking lessons with our upper grades, adapted from the curriculum from the Sage Garden Project.

Huge. Success.

It went like this:

10 minutes in the classroom to discuss the theme of “seasonality” and how vegetables can be classified as warm season or cool season.  We also ran through glove protocol, hand washing reminders and stern words about consequences for misusing a tool.  (I like to set a firm precedent.)

Then to the garden for two 20 minute stations.  I took one group to the outdoor kitchen to cook a warm season dish (ratatouille), and the classroom teacher and parent volunteers led their half of the class in preparing raised beds for our late September planting of cool season vegetables.

Then we tasted the ratatouille on baguette slices from a local bakery, the Candied Apple.   I also sent home a letter to each family with the recipe and gardening tips for winter gardens.  Enough words—look at what fun we had!

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Best comment of the day:

“Mrs. Elisara—I hate tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and peppers but I LOVE ratatouille!”

Last bits of awesomeness (ESY Part 5)

And finally, here I will dump all of the great ideas that I want to share (and not forget) that didn’t fit in the preceding posts about the Edible Schoolyard.

After our garden sessions, we were asked to write down questions that still lingered in our minds. During break, the presenters had a chance to review the questions and then address them if they weren’t already going to be covered.  Good technique.

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At the end of each day, we filled out three cards: head, heart, feet.  On each we wrote, what we learned? (head) what we felt? (heart) and what we’ll do next? (feet)  They were strung up in the dining commons each day for everyone to see.

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Right by the exit in the kitchen classroom was this set of folders stocked with recipes that the class just cooked.  Students are encouraged to pick one up on their way out, if they’d like.

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Once a week, students and their parents are invited to “Family Nights Out” where families cook the same recipes students learned in class.  Students become teachers as they recreate the menu, and everyone goes home with more skills. So incredibly cool.

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I’m always looking for good, simple rules to guide cooking/garden.  I may just rip these off for the coming year.

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Students know where to find these take-out boxes so they can leave with any unfinished food.

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LIttle vocabulary thrown in—the word geek in me loves this.

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The room is full of interesting decorations:  botanical prints, kites, hats from various world cultures, clocks that tell the time in different world cities, a piano, quotes….

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ESY loves hand-drawn visual aids.  This is on the wall to help students learn their greens.

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The Charlie Cart was on display—expensive but amazing.  Wheel this thing in to a classroom and you have a mobile kitchen with a sink, running water, stovetop, microwave and cabinets filled with every pot, pan or utensil you might need to run a demo.

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All in all, the ESY was a wonderfully rich experience.  A million thanks to the Sage Garden Project who made it possible for me to attend!

Humanities in the garden and kitchen (ESY Part 4)

Something garden educators believe:  all subjects can be taught in the garden.  Something I believe:  this is true, but some subjects are easier to teach in the garden than others.  Science and math come easily, and language arts is not hard to incorporate either.  I think the most challenging curricular integration is social science.  It takes a lot of planning to align lessons, plant the historical crops and create the wrap-around materials to deliver the material.  Edible Schoolyard excels at this.  Here is one of their staff laying out how all of their garden and kitchen lessons match up with 6th, 7th and 8th grade social science.

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Then they walked us through one of their lessons.  As you can see below, there are numerous concepts involved in teaching the history of rice in China.  (This is hand-drawn and colored—again, back to beauty!)

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Then they laid out all of the vegetables we’d be cooking with (beauty, again)….

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And we got cooking in our teams….

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..to create the most beautiful and delicious platter of fried rice, with veggies from the garden.IMG_6497

Here’s another lesson they teach:

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We rotated through various stations to learn this content, one of which was a snack-making station, which involved amaranth from the garden.

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It goes on….here we ate a meal in the dining commons that represents the Columbian Exchange.  Like I said, amazing.

Activities in the garden also teach history.  Here is a lesson on various techniques ancient cultures used to move things.  After this mini-lesson, students were challenged…IMG_6412

 

…to move various heavy items using this pile of stuff.  History, engineering, experiential learning…oh my.

 

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Other activities work as scavenger hunts in the garden:

IMG_6414Can an average school garden replicate this?  It would be very challenging without significant resources, but nonetheless I remain inspired to think through connections between the garden and the social sciences in the coming year.  It’s always helpful and inspiring to look at the “best of the best”—thank you Edible Schoolyard for pioneering this work!

Edible Schoolyard Academy (ES Part I)

Before I plunge into all that I learned, let me explain the basics of the Edible Schoolyard (ES.)  It is a project started 20 years ago by Chef Alice Waters at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, California.

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It has a one-acre garden…

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with a beautiful central teaching space: straw bales in a ring under a ramada with kiwi vines…

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…a small but efficiently run greenhouse with timed irrigation….

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….a compost row, when these very hot piles are turned every two weeks, resulting in finished compost in 8…

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…a well-organized tool shed (more on that later)…

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…outdoor oven…

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…and much more (veggies, flowers, fruit and nut trees, olive grove, rainwater harvesting, etc.)

They also have a beautiful kitchen and cooking education building…

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…a peek inside (more on this later too)

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..all of which is based on Alice’s principles of an “edible education,” spelled out on the side of the building.

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Take a look at the jaw-dropping dining commons…

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…where we ate delicious things such as…

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This program is run by a team of garden managers and interns, head chef and cooking instructors, program administrators and office staff, Americorps volunteers, summer interns, and consultants, all of whom we met the first day of the Academy.  They run the Academy once a year, for about a 100 attendees, to share all of their secrets.

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St. Alice also spoke, emphasizing her big, audacious idea: a free, delicious, sustainable school lunch for every child in America.

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Then we broke into three cohorts, by region, and spent one full day on each rotation: garden, kitchen, and administration.  We also had panels on fundraising, the farm to school movement and school lunch reform and one night went out for an a-w-e-s-o-m-e dinner in Oakland at Pizzaola.  Our days were full–example of garden day below:

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My next four posts will talk about the Academy thematically, starting with one of Alice’s main principles: “Beauty is the language of care.”  Stay tuned….meanwhile, happy, fuzzy picture of me by the lovely, handmade ES banner.

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Harvest of the Month: Citrus

Our December Harvest of the month (broccoli) was still going strong in January…

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…and then we switched to “citrus” for our January-Feburary Harvest of the Month.  I put out a call to friends and colleagues “down the hill” where citrus grows, and my desk was soon buried in bags of lemons, oranges, and grapefruit.  We began to use them up by:

….making orange pomanders with whole cloves….

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..making our own “non-toxic” cleaners in the afterschool garden class to clean the tables in Club Jaguar (we steeped lemon and orange rinds in vinegar for two weeks)…

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…..creating a seasonal wreath with oven-dried citrus rings to decorate the Club Jaguar door….

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…squeezing lots of homemade lemonade…

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..playing a “memory” game with grapefruit facts…

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…enjoying “taste test” stations with blood oranges and three types of grapefruit…

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….reading  An Orange in January by Dianna Hutts Aston and The Red Lemon by Bob Staake…

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….and sending kids home with lemons and recipes to make lemonade, cleaners and invisible ink!

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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? 🙂