Garden tour, January 2013

After a year of blogging, I celebrated and took four weeks off!  (Easy to do in Zone 7!)  Now I am rested and ready to tell more stories from the school garden in 2013.

For now, the garden is cold, quiet and pretty empty. Still, work goes on….

We purchased a heavy-duty weatherproof canvas cover for our kitchen island.  It held up great during last week’s wet weather.

IMG_5548

Said wet weather (though not a great volume) brought us 600 gallons of free water!

IMG_5549

I’ve been composing a letter to my Garden Beneficials, letting them know of opportunities to be involved from now until the end of the school year.  Here’s the apron I had made for each of them.

IMG_5628

One Beneficial made a contact with a local grape grower who offered to teach us to prune correctly.  I’m hoping for our first crop this year!  (Grapes are nice choices for the ubiquitous school chain link fence.)

IMG_5551

These boxes were filled with bulbs from our Flower Power Fundraiser.  I haven’t been exactly sure how to use this space, so filling them with crocuses, irises and lilies to offer a little color and life in early spring seemed like a good idea.

IMG_5553

Beneficials and students added a couple bushels of daffodils to this hillside on the backside of the garden.

IMG_5554

On the to-do list:  set gopher traps in these garden entrypoints we found when planting the daffodils.

IMG_5555

Six tables and eight benches were delivered right before Christmas break to the junior high garden.  These were purchased with local PLDO funds through Mexi-American Crafts in Ramona.  Here they are awaiting a work party!  (Post on this big development to follow.)

IMG_5558

Local tree trimmers and the rangers from Heise Park keep us supplied with free woodchips.  We need to spread them about once a year.  It’s amazing how improved the soil is four years later, after regularly laying these down to disintegrate (as well as to “finish” the garden and suppress weeds.)

IMG_5559

I will write more about this later but I have also begun serving as a “school garden consultant” through San Diego Master Gardeners.  I met with my first school—an elementary in Escondido–last week!  Here are some of the key teachers (and fellow MG consultant) in front of their kindergarten “bed”!  (TOO CUTE.)

IMG_5545

Outdoor food prep station? Check!

I mentioned that Whole Foods Foundation and Food Corps funded an outdoor food prep station in the garden.  To review, this is what the area looked like before:

IMG_4724

A deck was built to fit the space…

IMG_4894

…and a split-level “food prep station” added!  (The two levels are for lower and upper grade-sized kids.)

IMG_5346

Stainless steel sinks can be used to wash produce with fresh water from dispensers.

IMG_5348

Buckets in cabinets below catch the water to reuse on plants.

IMG_5341

Sinks can be covered with cutting boards to increase work space.

IMG_5344

Both sides have electrical outlets for simple appliances, such as our pizza oven and wok.  We also purchased a solar over.  I’ve been keeping my eyes open at garage sales for other tools such as a salad spinner and a flat grill/panini press.

IMG_5284

The stage is set for great culinary and educational outcomes!

Whole Foods Market said “yes”

Senior garden ambassadors met me before school to play with these two gadgets:

Hand-cranked apple peeler, corer and slicer

Dehydrator

We cut apples, dehydrated them all day, and served them at the Taste Test cart at lunch.

Ambassadors get off the bus and work with me until the bell rings

And soon, this whole process is going to be much, much better. You can see that we are prepping the food at the lunch tables.  Do-able but pretty inconvenient.  No table or electric outlet or sink to rinse fruit and veggies.

A while back Susi and I sent a grant proposal to Whole Foods Market, asking for an outdoor “kitchen island” to prep garden produce.  After obsessively checking their website for months we found out this past summer that we won the money!  It’s going to be built soon, so once again, I will show you the “before” shot so you can appreciate it when it goes in.  This is probably the last unimproved piece of real estate in the garden!