A little idea: “freshly picked”

I started a new tradition this year.  When I visit my K-2 classrooms, I bring something “freshly picked.”  This week it was rosemary.


Now that my garden ambassadors are chosen, they make the bouquets for me at recess and return the vases to the garden room for me to pick up on the way to class.


IMG_7284The idea is that the vase stays in the class until the arrangement withers, and then the ambassadors collect them after a week.  It’s a small touch that “brings the outside in,” fills the room with a nice fragrance and gives students a chance to make observations and learn plant names.  Beauty is a language of care!

Winter Garden Tour

And by winter, I mean the months of November and December and not the weather, as it has been distressingly warm here in Southern California.  Shed your jacket and join me as we take a look around the garden in the past few months.

I’ve seen school gardens that add holiday decorations throughout the year, so I’ve been keeping my eyes out for ornaments and wreaths at garage sales.  At the end of my church’s rummage sale, everything was on sale for $1 a box. I walked away with big plastic ornaments and wreaths.  Students help me put it all up at the end of a garden class (building ownership!), and we added bunches of freshly cut incense cedar.




A modest radish and broccoli harvest was enough for a treat on a whole grain cracker in Mrs. Younce’s class.


Parent, friend and native plant guru Art Cole planned and purchased natives for the area to the side of the Kandu Gate.  Plants include creeping snowberry, “Joyce Coulter” Manzanita, monkey flower, sedge, yarrow and currants. Garden Ambassadors helped me dig holes and excavate rocks.

Later I added red mulch and plant markers to help keep students from walking over them.


Our November Backcountry Collaborative marked the end of our 1 year USDA Farm to School grant.  Pictured below are a few of the seasonal crop banners we had made to decorate our lunch area.  Also pictured are two eight grade students (confession: the boy is mine) who are introducing the food film they made for their elective class, Food Justice.  The title of their film:  Pie-oneering, The story of the first commercial pie restaurant in Julian.

photo 2-1

“Garden Beneficial” Harvey and Mr. Copeland worked with students to build 3×3 beds to increase our edible space, a goal of our Farm to School planning grant.

photo 1


Our harvest of the month for November and December: beautiful broccoli!  Notice the hoops and the agrobon, which we’ve used a bit with a few cold/snowy nights.


Mrs. Dawson’s class harvested the rest of the broccoli for their holiday party, and the irrigation box has been stored inside in anticipation of freezing nights.  (Cross your fingers!)

Wreath making with herbs (primarily rosemary) and cedar was a successful holiday activity.  And the classrooms have never smelled better!



Happy New Year everyone!  Here’s to more stories flowing from the school garden….

Indoor gardening activity: rosemary wreaths

I experimented with making rosemary wreaths for our sale on Saturday, and we sold every one of them.  Today was threatening rain, wind and temperatures in the 50’s (note: this is cold in California), so I put together an indoor lesson about rosemary for University of Wednesday.

First I harvested about 400-500 sprigs of rosemary from my yard.  (Like the laundry basket?)  I also cut 10 inch lengths of floral wire, and 24 pieces of 20 inch thicker gauge wire. I also gathered spools of ribbons.)


Beforehand I popped a whole lot of popcorn with olive oil and fresh rosemary.


After talking a little bit about the history and uses of rosemary, we tied the mound of  sprigs at each table into threes with floral wire, and then wound the clusters to the wire circles they shaped with the thicker wire.  Students finished the wreaths with ribbons/raffia, and we dined on popcorn.  IMG_5405 IMG_5407

For the last five minutes we took a quick garden walk and identified the rosemary bushes in three different locations. After working with them, touching them, smelling them, tasting them—they were easy to identify.  Students happily went home with their wreaths—this one as a hair piece!