Well, all I can say is that starting a school garden has been one of my biggest and proudest accomplishments as a teacher! Planting a seed of learning has never been more evident as I witness the inspiration, enthusiasm, creativity, and overall passion for learning blossom with the children at my school. The interest in maintaining and learning about our garden has done nothing but gain momentum by our students. So many teachable moments have come out of this experience, which I believe will be forever remembered as these young souls move on in their educational journey.
Now for some updates to my earlier post at the close of 2014….
Our garden continued to thrive and produce great results as you can see by the looks on some of my student helpers who came to help out even when they were on winter break from school!
On Christmas Eve, our garden looked like this:
On New Year’s Eve we had eggplant starting to grow…
In no time at all our newly created after school gardening club was in the kitchen creating eggplant parmesan! The eggplant bounty was incredible! My classroom served as a “prep” area.
When we were ready we popped it into the cafeteria oven and produced this delicious creation:
We also cooked up strawberry salsa at another meeting that we scooped up with cinnamon pita chips…This was really a hit with the kids!
Here are my budding gardeners/chefs…
The club has really proven to be a great learning experience. We planted a square foot “salsa garden”, painted terracotta pots we planted with salad greens and nasturtiums, learned and wrote in journals about different Florida fruits and vegetables, got dirty in the garden pulling weeds, harvested and tasted lots of different things, and cooked up some fantastic foods where we learned how to cut produce and follow a recipe.
In addition to all the Gardening Club fun, we also had some “Very Hungry Caterpillar” experiences this year. Our garden had an abundance of caterpillars munching away on our fennel, dill, celery and parsley. We left many of our friends in the garden with hopes that they would make it to chrysalis and turn into beautiful butterflies.
However, Mother Nature had other plans for a majority of them. This led to learning moments about the food chain/web! We were able to relocate one into the hands of our school science teacher, who promptly gave our caterpillar a safe home on some of our celery. As all of the students in the school rotate through the science lab, all the children were able to watch as it formed its chrysalis so the magic of metamorphosis could unfold.
As we came back from Spring Break today, we had a great surprise… She had emerged as a spectacular butterfly! Our Science teacher enthusiastically released her back into the garden. First thing in the morning, my 4th graders were able to trek down to the garden and see this:
Shortly after this picture, our butterfly made her way out into the world. We are all hoping she will flutter back our way and lay some eggs so we can witness this again.
Other highlights from our garden have been our 1st graders who planted beets from seeds and even had a “beet hospital” for awhile because they thought they weren’t doing well, see what they grew.
All and all, I believe that many of these students have been bitten by the gardening bug, and will continue to enjoy a lifetime of gardening. More importantly, a foundation has been laid to instill the importance of living in harmony with nature and the environment, and to understand the value of a healthy lifestyle. Being outside and active in a garden, and bringing this knowledge back into the home, just might make them think twice about gobbling down another fast food, or processed meal. After all, gardening and cooking are fun… Just ask them 🙂