Another Delicious Day: Food Day 2018

This is a long one, but very tasty…..read on!

On October 25th, Julian Elementary and Junior High celebrated their 6th annual Food Day with a full day of fun, experiential workshops about cooking, nutrition, backyard gardening and agriculture.  Our theme was “California Grown.” Garden Ambassadors helped me decorate the school early in the morning while our food-themed soundtrack blared.

Nine presenters delivered the following 30-minute lessons at the elementary school:

Eat the Rainbow: Getting kids active with physical education activities, the UCSD School Wellness team taught kids how fruits and veggies of all colors help our bodies.

The workshop ended with a persimmon taste test!

A Seed is a Backpack: Our yearlong FoodCorps service member, Mr. Cam taught kids the parts of the seed and then let them examine various seeds with microscopes and magnifying glasses.

Bees, Flowers and Veggies in Our Connected World:  For the sixth year Camp Stevens has been an important part of our Food Day. This year they taught the kids to make “bee hotels”—a collection of nesting tubes for native bees.

Cooking with Chef Joey and Chef Greg:  Back by popular demand from the Healthy Adventures Foundation, our two chefs worked with the kids to make ambrosia salad and fruit roll-ups.

Growing New Food from Old:  Another longstanding partner with Food Day, the Resource Conservation District instructed students how to make their own pots out of newspaper, fill them with soil and plant potato pieces!

Composting with Worms: A new presenter at Food Day and a wonderful new addition to our event, the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation spent the day teaching students all about vermicomposting, including a chance for the kids to dig through castings to find the red wrigglers.

My Cheeseburger Came from a Farm:  Well-known and loved by generations of Julian students, retired teacher Kathy Cauzza and team brought an amazing lesson on farming and ranching, an educational program of the Cow Belles.

Apple Growers of Julian:  Teak and Kaitlan Nichols, with Harvey Arntson, are six-year presenters with the Julian Apple Growers Association.  Every year students learn about Julian’s apple heritage while pressing their own apple juice.

Food, Fiction, Facts and Fun!:  We were pleased to have the Julian Library join us this year, making crafts with students, reading stories and sharing fun food facts!

At the Junior High, another set of six classes was offered to students:

Bounty Bags–Keeping in Sustainable:  Artist Teal Young walked students through the steps of turning an old t-shirt into a reusable shopping bag as she educated them about the perils of plastic bags and wildlife.

California Conifers–Forest Food:  Representing the Volcan Mountain Foundation, Janice Smith and Kat Beck taught students about conifer wildcrafting in the backcountry, offering samples of Douglas Fir shortbread cookies and toasted pine nuts.

We Grow it ALL in California!:  High school agriculture teacher Mr. Martineau brought over his FFA students to discuss the primary crops of various California counties, offering food samples from each region and displaying handmade visual aids.

Rethink you Drink: Back for a second year, Daniel Barajas of Health and Human Services challenged students to think about their sugar intake and the various health effects.

How does it grow? Food Films:  These four to six minute films that focus on different crops are beautiful, interesting and memorable. Once again, Mr. Pierce showed the films and facilitated discussion.  For a sample of these wonderful short films, click here.

GUTS!  Your Second Brain:  A new presenter, Ms. Fiendisen of Smart Care educated students on the importance of healthy gut flora, ending her presentation with tastes of sauerkraut and kombucha.

In addition to the workshops, students at the junior high were treated to plates of homemade salsas, whipped up by the Pathways weekly parenting group.  At the end of the day all students also got a chance to sample many different foods from Julian and around the world in a large tasting rotation.

On both campuses, all presenters, staff and volunteers enjoyed a lunch provided by our amazing partner, Soups and Such, and delectable cookies by California Mountain Bakery. Chef Donald of Jeremy’s on the Campus also brought a tasty, beautiful California Thursday lunch for the children.

Finally, the fifth grade garden ambassadors went on a fieldtrip to Down the Road farms to finish the day, learning all about organic gardening from Farmer Josh and Farmer Bri. Here we are standing in front of the oldest apple tree in Julian!

Clearly, it was a full and wonderful day, packed with fun and learning.  Thank you to the parent and community volunteers who helped to make it happen!  Also thanks to Dave Palmer of Dunk Tank Marketing and the Farm to School Collective for many of the photos above!

August/September Garden Tour

As we occasionally do here at “What’s not to like?” take a stroll with me through our garden program in August and September.

For the first time in our HOTM efforts, we chose the avocado for August.  Our taste test was avocado toast, and naturally it had a near 100% approval rating at recess.  This sign met students off the bus in the morning.

I caught this snapshot of Ms. T opening up her day the first week of school at the garden table.  What a peaceful, beautiful place to connect with students and set the tone for the week.

Introducing 8 out of 10 of our new 5th grade Garden Ambassadors.  This is a long-running program that is original to our school, and we’re very proud of it.  To learn more, see this or this or this or this.

On September 11th, we held a Day of Service and Remembrance in the school garden.  Emily, our beloved Food Corps volunteer from last year, brought over a crew of friends from Camp Stevens.  We got a lot done with their help and positive energy!

We have an amazing parent (Garrett Huffman) who is working with Mr. C to build a shed we have on order.  Garrett built this platform this week.  I cannot wait to better organize our garden materials in a big shed.

Mr. Cam is starting a new program called Tastebud Tickets. At snack recess, he walks around giving tickets for kids “caught” eating something healthy.

Then on Monday morning, he put all of those tickets in his garden hat and had a garden ambassador pull one name.  That student got to choose a friend with whom to share lunch in the garden that afternoon.

Now in September, we are focusing on apples for our Harvest of the Month.  Our Garden Ambassadors offered bread with locally made apple butter at recess.

Good food, happy kids!  Til next time…..

Early morning wonders

Beginning to tidy up the garden for this weekend’s tour, I opened the small cedar hutch and found myself looking directly at this:

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I immediately closed the door and ran to get my favorite fifth grade entomologist out of class.

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The swallowtail must have been drying its wings because it was perfectly still, allowing us to move the box to which it was attached and put it under a tree.

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Avery and I spent a good ten minutes taking pictures and video, making observations just inches away, and marveling together.  It was wonder-full.

Here’s another wonderful thing: I knew her teacher would allow me to take her out for ten minutes, missing a bit of class time, for this teachable moment.  Thanks Mrs. Croman.

From Julian to the MOPA

True:  Four Julian students currently have photographs hanging in the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.  This is a great story and my dear friend Ann recently wrote it up for the Julian Journal, and her account from the November edition is reprinted (with gratitude) below.

Julian Youth Exhibit Photographs at MOPA

Trustees and members of the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) filled its atrium last month as guests of honor, four students from Julian Junior High, arrived for an artist’s reception to open “Photo/Synthesis,” the 7th Annual Youth Photography Exhibition.

Seventh-graders Taylor Cole, Trevor Denny, Ethan Elisara and Kaleigh Kaltenthaler enjoyed appetizers and music, and mingled with the public, sharing a love of photography nurtured by their involvement in “Kids with Cameras,” an afterschool enrichment program.  Some of the students had never been to MOPA before.  For others, opening was a new experience.  For all of them, it is the first time their artwork was on display in a venue that is nationally recognized for its contribution to the world of photography.

The theme of this year’s youth exhibition, environment and sustainability, is a subject right up the alley of these students who spent most of their time taking photos in the school garden and on Volcan Mountain.  The show was open to students from throughout San Diego County.  Applicants submitted original photos and an artist statement.  A panel of five experts in the field of photography reviewed about 300 entries to select 100 images for the show.  Jurors considered the quality of the image, how it fit into the theme and how well the student’s written words supported his or her photograph.

Deborah Klochko, executive director of MOPA, spoke at the reception saying, “We live in a visual world; how we see that is important.”

She encouraged guests to take a moment to talk with the artists, saying that their voice plays an important role.  Klochko considers photography to be the most important media of the 21st century.

While she says, “Creativity is important,” she also emphasized the importance of visual literacy.

She spoke of the volume of images in the world today, saying that until one understands the structure of an image—how it is made and how it can be manipulated—one can be controlled by the image instead of being in control.  This is why the museum embraces the philosophy of lifespan learning, with programs for children and adults.

“The museum is proud to showcase the work of the youth, which is exciting for the audience as well,” she says.

In the gallery, the photos are arranged by sub-topics within the theme.

Hung with a group of floral photos is Trevor Denny’s close-up of a bee on a flower petal.  Denny, who thinks “It’s pretty cool” to have his photo in a museum exhibition, never thought about how complex bees are until he examined one through the lense of this camera, focusing on details like the patterns in their wings and the hairs on their bodies.

For Ethan Elisara, who “feels really good” about having his artwork in the show, it was capturing the moment when a cattail stalk released its seeds into the air that caught the attention of the jurors.  Elisara’s photo, which hangs with a group of “not your typical nature images,” has a mysterious quality that engages viewers.

Just a few of the photos on display used portraiture as a way to approach the subject, and that’s where Taylor Cole’s dramatic image of a child’s shadow on the bark of a tree burned in the Cedar Fire is found.  Cole, who “felt like a V.I.P.” at the reception, juxtaposes in her photo the contrast of the tragedy of a natural disaster with the playfulness of a child.

In a group of photos that show mankind’s effect on the earth, Kaleigh Kaltenthaler’s artwork is the lone example of a positive way in which human beings have impacted the environment.  Kaltenthaler said she was “fired up” to be surrounded by all of the photos as she talked with people about her image of a grinding stone and mortar.

Klochko publically credited Jeff Holt with doing a great job with a talented group of students.

The show, beautifully organized by Lori Sokolowski, continues through January 27, 2013.

All students pose with instructor Jeff Holt

Destination farm stand

Last week Kids with Cameras took a field trip to a farm stand run by a Julian family dedicated to sourcing food as locally as possible.  First our guest instructor, Bill Bevill, worked with the students on sharp focus and filling the frame, and then we drove five minutes down the road to Wynola Flats Produce.  Stacey Peyakov was a wonderful host, allowing kids to roam through the store as well as the orchard, snapping away. The indoor/outdoor space allowed for experimenting with lighting, and the produce gave us a chance to capture colors, textures, and patterns.  One of the goals of both the KWC program and the garden is to develop in kids a “sense of place”—what makes living in Julian unique and wonderful?  To do that you have to get out and look around, and what better way to do that than with a camera in hand?

Photo courtesy of Jeff Holt

University of Wednesday

University of Wednesday is a new program at out school.  After lunch on Wednesday all of the classes go to an enrichment class: art, garden, natural history, etc.  Every week they rotate.  This is a great development for the garden as it allows me to be a true “garden educator,” creating a lesson plan tailored to each grade.

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

Last week I divided the group in half.  One half played Garden Bingo with me.  I don’t simply call out the words—I give examples of them in our garden and the kids have to come up with the words.  It was windy so I had to tape down the boards.  And the plastic bingo chips were too lightweight so I finally hit upon this idea.  (Easy clean up–just flick these chips off the table.)

The other half did this scavenger hunt.  It’s an exercise in observation, with a few  academic standards thrown in.  I usually have adult volunteers with me, so they walk around the garden, helping kids who are stumped or seizing teachable moments.  This “scavenger hunt” format works really well, as kids are self-directed, working in pairs with the questions below on a clipboard. And it’s easy to adapt to the grade and the season.

Sample:

1)  How many varieties (different types) of tomatoes are currently growing in our garden?

2)   We are currently growing yellow snapdragon flowers.  Examine the flowers.  Why do you think they have this name?

3)   Draw the most beautiful thing in the garden:

4)   Cite one example of insect damage or plant disease in the garden.  (Look closely at leaves.)

5)   Write three words that come to mind when you see the Hubbell Gate.  (The new colorful one at the end of the garden).  Now use the thesaurus on the main table and fine a synonym for each of these words.

Your word                                                Word from thesaurus

__________________________                        _________________________________

__________________________                        _________________________________

__________________________                        _________________________________

6)   Smell at least three herbs in the herb garden.  Draw the leaf of the one you like most.  Do you know its name?

7)   We are a “certified wildlife habitat.”  What are the four things needed for a habitat?  (This is printed somewhere in the garden.)  Pick two elements and give an example of both.

8) Watch the 4 minute video on tendrils.  What did scientists recently learn?  Where are there tendrils in our garden?  Do you notice the phenomenon pointed out in the video?

(We couldn’t get this excellent Science Friday clip to play out in the garden, so I explained it and the kids watched it later in class.)

Then the kids switch so they both have a chance at each activity.  We end by gathering together at the table to share our answers and questions, and I try to always have something from the garden prepped to eat as we talk together.  The containers get passed around until all the food is gone!

Take it outside!

“Taking learning outside”—a phrase I’ve heard from those in the environmental education/school garden world.  The idea is this: if you can teach it in the classroom, you can teach it outside.  (Agree? Disagree? Discuss.)

Here are some ways non-garden activities have moved into the garden in the last year:

On Science Day, students met in the garden with the amazing naturalist/teacher Kat to pound and braid yucca fibers into rope:

Girl Scouts held their “bridging ceremony” during which they pass to the next level of scouting:

An Easter Egg hunt last April:

Yoga class:

A kindergarten teacher uses the garden with a yearly unit on the gingerbread man!

And finally, “reading buddies” (third graders paired with first graders) and SSR (“silent sustained reading”). Do they still use that term?  I remember reading at my desk, but I would have loved to have read in a silent, sustained way in a gazebo!