Fall term at 24th Street Elementary School definitely went by in a flash! With the semester officially over, we’d like to take a moment (or two) to reflect on our experiences in the garden these last couple of months.
Let’s start by heading down a freshly carved path of pebbles and sheet rock. Flanked on each side of the path are cutting flowers. September was broiling and yet one of our interns, and several of our beloved volunteers, pick-axed their way through some mean layers of grass, clay and stubborn roots. They exposed a soil that was going to get the attention it finally deserved. By adding Bu’s Blend Compost (thank you, Malibu Compost!) and a healthy layer of straw, that empty space turned into a growing ground for cut flowers as well as a meandering path that takes you to a special spot. At the end of the pathway, underneath a pink peppercorn tree, sits our very own worm bench. It’s the perfect place for the children to sit and enjoy the view of the garden they admire so much.
What comes to mind when you hear the word October? Pumpkin patch! We’ve yet to meet a child who’s eyes don’t glitter at the sight of our pumpkin patch. October is the quintessential time for all things pumpkin! Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin soup. Pumpkin dissection (dun dun dun). This year was no exception. We took the kids trolling for pumpkins with one condition: in order to harvest the pumpkin we had to understand the pumpkin. We needed to know what the leaves looked like, how the pumpkins developed, where they came from, what they grew out of! The understanding of these parts of the pumpkin were imperative to the success of our mission: what is inside of a pumpkin? On the expedition we searched and searched for the largest pumpkin we could find. Moving through the patch, we explored how long the vines were, followed the twirly tendrils and looked carefully under those massive leaves. With a deeper understanding of where a pumpkin comes from we harvested one from its prickly stem and began our descent into the gooey innards of pumpkin dissection 101. It was a blast! Everyone walked away with a fresh seed to taste and with the knowledge they had, potentially a new plant to grow.
It is always impressive when our garden fresh recipes become a highlight for our students. With a coolness in the air, Fall produce became a staple in our cooking classes; offering up kale, swiss chard, pomegranates, and fennel. We should be used to it by now but having kids oooh and ahhhh and ask for more (insert delicious, fresh green vegetable here) is a constant heart warmer. Many of our students come back to tell us how they shared these recipes with their families at home! And since November is the time for gratitude, we couldn’t be more thankful that our kids love eating good food!
December is a time when people come together and share in tradition. Workdays in the garden have become a tradition for many students and their parents. And this last work day was nothing different. Their dedication reiterates how important the garden is to our community and because of them, we have a community! Being able to come together every month makes it feel like a constant gift that goes beyond the holidays. It’s a truly remarkable experience to work, learn and eat together. This workday felt extra special with Chef Roxana Jullapat from Cooks County making deliciously savory pancakes. She captivated our students with her cooking demo and made the day that much more memorable. Thank you, Roxana!
We can’t wait for our next semester to begin and share all the incredible experiences that will be had. Until then, happy holidays and we’ll see you next year!