Category Archives: Gardening

Spring Bloom 2018 – Farm to Table at Morningstar Farm

Teri Williams, T WIlliams RealtyBy Teri Williams

This event was island born! It was about community. It was about family. It was about local food and farmers. It was about wine and connecting. 

Here is an email I received from Kika Westoff, event coordinator, describing the unique details of the experience:

We’re all getting super excited for our upcoming farm dinner on Orcas! Nate and I were up on the island this past weekend tasting wine with Stephanie and Cole Sisson, meeting with farmers and fishermen who will be providing all the food for the meal and taking final measurements of the beautiful barn with Steve and Mimi who own Morning Star Farm.

Needless to say, Orcas is magical and we’re beyond excited to share this experience with you all!

An additional bonus is that Cole and Stephanie (Doe Bay Wine Co.) were able to connect with seven Chilean winemakers who will attend the event and showcase their wines. The group is visiting the U.S. as part of a tour with their importer, and will serendipitously be in the San Juan’s after stops in New York and San Francisco. Many of these wines have never been sold in the states, so this will be quite the introduction!

Again, we are SO very excited to share this unique dinner with you all and thank you in advance for making your way to the Island!

And, here is the email blast from Doe Wine Company (Let me just say I was sooooo honored and excited to get 2 tickets for the event!):

Farm to Farm Table dinner featuring Orcas Native Chef Nate Simmons and Chilean Winemakers at Morningstar Farm, Saturday, June 16th – The winemakers are visiting the San Juan Islands as part of a US tour to introduce their wines. These wines are brand new to the US market, many are not even available for sale yet. Chef Nate Simmons went to school on Orcas, ran the kitchens of renowned Seattle restaurants Serafina & Cicchetti and now helps develop and manager the culinary program for Facebook. His events are legendary and always sell out quickly. $135 per person and 30 of the 40 seats for this event were pre-sold to his list.  Only 10 seats remaining. RSVP to reserve your seat.

This was also about island raised generations coming back to Orcas to showcase and share what they have learned in the world. Both Cole Sisson and Nate Simmons went to school and grew up on Orcas. Nate’s dad, Eric Simmons (good to see ya again!) was the Spanish teacher for Orcas Island High School. The barn was located on Mimi and Steve’s Morningstar Farm where they have raised a family and mentored many interns of farming.

The dinner was so tasty and engaging … this is the only picture I took of the food.

The fresh menu was simple and tempting:

SEA – Dungeness crab, manila clams, seaweed, salmon skin and nori puff. The appetizers displayed on a wood tray at our table built anticipation around the menu and the wine pairings. I sipped a Jose’-Ignacio Sauvignon Blanc 2015.

GARDEN – coal roasted baby root vegetables, local mushrooms, raw milk ricotta & whey. Baby greens, peas, peavines & hen yolk, sourdough bread, farm butter with $ sea salt. A juicy Jose’-Ignacio Maturana: Camermenere 2014 was poured.

LAND – Buried lamb leg and lamb jus, smoked baby carrots, radish, honey and spruce, new potatoes, butter, herbs and garlic. Enjoyed a  Jose’-Ignacio Maturana: Cabernet/Syrah 2013.

There were SWEETS served of raw milk panna cotta and strawberries, fresh chocolate cookies. We were so full by this time we had to take a pass on the last course. However, we did go down to the lower level of the barn where all the magic was happening with the food, thanked our food crew, caught a glimpse of the plating of the delicate dessert and wondered what the pairing would be for the finale.

I made many new friends from Orcas, Seattle and Chile and renewed connections with old (and younger) Orcas friends. 

I definitely came home full.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Community, Family Life, Gardening, Recipes, Uncategorized

A Big Blooming Surprise

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know that I’m a big fan of native plants. Each spring, I comb the woods and fields for the first budding Calypso orchids, starflower, twinflower, white fawn lily and other favorites. But I’m not a flower snob: I find all plants fascinating. When I recently got an invitation to tour an Orcas Island iris garden at peak bloom, I jumped at the chance.

Charlie Carver's Iris Garden on Orcas Island

Charlie’s happy place: the iris garden he created on his 15-acres on Orcas Island

Like recalling the first blush of love, Charlie Carver vividly remembers when he first laid eyes on a wild iris while hiking in Colorado some 40 years ago. The graceful form, seductive petals and flirty colors stopped him in his tracks and changed his life.

He dedicated himself to begin seriously studying and collecting a wide range of iris cultivars, and quickly became an expert on their history and propagation. When Charlie moved to Orcas Island, he brought his beloved irises, cleared space for a large garden and began expanding his collection.

Parts of an iris flower

Parts of an iris flower

Charlie’s devotion to his plants is complete. He lives very simply so that he can pour his time and passion into his gardens. Nationally renowned among serious flower people as “Charlie the iris guy,” he’s currently Chair of the American Iris Society (AIS) National Collections Program where he’s on the leading edge of efforts to catalogue and preserve as many iris cultivars as possible.

Charlie’s personal Orcas Island collection has grown to more than 1,600 varieties of iris. Many are rare specimens and more than half are considered historic, meaning they were introduced more than 30 years ago. His special interest is in dwarf iris. He collects both standard dwarf bearded iris (SDB) which are 8-16” tall and miniature dwarf bearded iris (MDB) which are 2-8” tall.

What I expected to be a short tour of interesting plants turned into an entire afternoon immersed in the beautiful, exotic blooms, with Charlie providing an in-depth expert tour into the spectacular world of irises.

Below are photos of just some of my favorite flowers from his collection. Click on the photo to see the cultivar name. Even captured with just a cellphone camera, which doesn’t do them justice, I think you’ll understand why these remarkable flowers have now become some of the island’s most fascinating and beautiful imports. Enjoy!

 

Sandi Friel at Sucia IslandLooking to pursue your passion and live simply on Orcas Island? Contact me!

4 Comments

Filed under Community, Gardening, Nature

Proof of Life

By Teri Williams

Orcas Island offers many surprises in the season of Winter. And yes, by the end of January you begin to wonder if Spring will ever get here. But … if you pay attention and look around you will see proof of the life that Spring will bring to us.

Here’s a peek at life on Orcas. Spring bulbs with the promise of  color. A new gate for the orchard. A surprise head of broccoli from last year’s plantings. New leaf buds on the blueberry bush. Blue sky reflected in a pond. Rhubarb nudging out of the soil. Hellebore in pink, yellow primroses. Greenhouse supply of last years Swiss chard. A trip to Driftwood Nursery. Last years onions and leeks still offer up taste. Green garlic. Brussels sprouts waiting to be plucked. Beds looking to be turned. Greenhouse storing of plants and seeds for this years garden. New garden gloves. Sprouting ginger. Lettuce growing in Mary Ann’s green house. Compost piles. Flowering trees in Island Market’s parking lot.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am always on high alert for life in the garden and in the landscaping around me. Something is growing and producing life always. Stay tuned for the first of the harvest season in May.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gardening, Kids

Orcasong Farm

By Teri Williams

Now this is the way to welcome Fall – by celebrating with our community at Orcasong.

So honored to receive the invite and have a chance to check out this new and exciting farm I’ve been watching for many months. I live just around the corner and have been watching the transformation, the newest being the lavender fields.

You can feel the energy coming from the farmers tending the land. Fencing was erected, the ground was tilled, materials and farm hands showed up and then the planting. What could it be? Lavender … and the promise of color and sweet fragrance to come!

But lavender is not all this farm is producing.

Orcasong’s mission is to restore the land they steward on Orcas Island using ecologically regenerative practices. Guided by the wisdom of nature, they are committed to local resilience and social change and to advance through holistic education, arts and event programming, environmental advocacy and interwoven farm-based enterprises.

You can feel the mission statement when you arrive. On this day, farmers were working in the gardens and offer big smiles encouraging me to come help harvest fresh vegetables, wander and dream in the flower-filled overgrown garden laid out with purpose and standing proud in the soil. I love the mix, feeding the soul and the body.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Walking around the grounds, you can see the love and intention given to every detail. These farmers really walk the talk, collaborating with a team that searches for solutions to keep them connected to the land, the people and this community.

Standing among them, I can’t help but feel how life can keep us spinning in our own worlds, keeping us from slowing down and taking in the gifts right in front of us.

Food, friends, song, sharing, dreaming – it just doesn’t get any closer to “island life” than this experience.

In Gratitude.

www.orcasongfarm.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Community, Gardening, Nature

Pizza Camp

Sharing life, love and lunch.

I love Pizza – Who Doesn’t!

By Teri Williams

 

 

 

 

Ok, so I don’t need to eat more carbs, and yes we have Hogstone Pizza in town. So why, you ask, do I crave to create the best ever pizza??? Last time I was in Darville’s Bookstore I found a book about pizza titled Pizza Camp by Joe Beddin. I love to read cookbooks, especially when they have humorous commentary and throw in common sense. After reading Joe’s recipe and constitution on how and what to use to make the best-ever pie I started planning and dreaming. So let the fun begin!

I have never had any luck with yeast. So the fact that Joe’s recipe for the dough does not include warm water and is put in the fridge for 24 hours gave me even more skepticism. However, I jumped in and made the first steps towards my crusty cheesy tomato dreams. Joe’s policy for making dough: “Turn your phone off and don’t speak, this is a time to listen, for new ideas, it’s not busy, be present. Making dough should be calming, meditative and a great time to think of new ideas about pizza and life.” I spent the time to enjoy the moment and think about what my garden would provide as toppings.

Book in hand, tools in place. This is the beginning, bring on the yeast.

Love it when your work looks like it does in the book!

After the dough was in a ball and had to rest for 30 minutes, I wandered through my garden and gave thanks for being here now on Orcas Island. Second round of kneading left the yeasty ball in the fridge for 24 hours. Until tomorrow …

Garlic drying in the sun. Going to learn to braid this summer!

Basil love

The sauce. I always thought you cooked up a batch of grandma’s secret tomato sauce and let it simmer for hours on the cooktop. No, Joe says they never cook the sauce in Naples. He recommends a nice fresh and bright tomato sauce, which comes with using the right tomatoes. So I read on. Joe uses Jersey Fresh crushed tomatoes in a can. A CAN!!! Ok, I can do this, FYI- I did go to Maple Rock Farm stand down the road and purchased fresh island grown tomatoes. Just in case. Continuing to read more from Pizza Camp, I learn the canned tomatoes, garlic and salt need to sit for a few hours in the fridge to meld flavors. I found canned tomatoes at Island Market from Italy – yes in a can.

Cheese will include fresh mozzarella and a hard cheese purchased at Roses Bakery. I think I will search for some local fresh goat cheese for the next time – Wendy Thomas, I’m headed out your way soon, girl.

Now what will I choose for toppings? Well I think a simple marguerita is a must. Just cheese and fresh basil – I can do this, and get a chance to go thank my garden once again for providing me with peace of mind and room for dreaming and creating good food. I wanted something a bit more for the second disc of saucy goodness, so I pulled some local pork out of the freezer. Pizza Camp shares many styles and types of toppings, one being Pizzeria Beddin’s Sausage – perfect!

Anticipation is a wonderful thing. I could not enjoy this pizza experience by myself so made a short last minute call to Cory, Monee and Eleanor to come to Gramma T’s back yard bbq pizza oven. I believe this can work with my cast-iron flat pan. Yes, why not. Too early in the game to order a wood fired pizza oven to be constructed in my patio (save these dreams for when I am making dough).

Ju DE VIE from tasting at Doe Bay Wine Company

.

 

This was the hardest part and I have to say, I cheated and used my Grandma’s rolling pin. Need to do some recon on what is the trick to pushing, pulling and stretching the dough.

After Notes:

You need a pizza peel. I’ll save you the details on this, just believe me. And, do not grease your pan with olive oil. Avocado oil will stand the heat much better.

The two days of planning was a tasty success. I still love pizza and am already dreaming up the next PIZZA CAMP!

Leave a comment

Filed under Family Life, Gardening, Recipes, Uncategorized

What To Do on Orcas if Your Grama Does Not Take You to the Fireworks

By Teri Williams

You start on the mainland, bags packed and ready to go have some fun with Grama T and Grampa J. at their Orcas Farm. Since there are so many dirt roads on Orcas, Grama’s car is filthy, so we need to run it through a car wash. Be sure to make time for that and fueling up. In July, a stop at the berry stand is a priority, even if you’re riding in a dirty car and running on fumes, you still stop for berries. The car is loaded and headed to Lane 3 (or whatever lane they are using today for reservation holders). Those of us who have had many ferry rides remember the days when Lane 3 was for Orcas only.

One of the best things about having a Grama who lives on Orcas is that she probably is into everything and this year was no disappointment. Grama T is on the Board of Lahari, a non-profit that supports aging in your home. Lucky for us, she and Grampa were entered into the 4th of July Parade in Gramps’ old Model A. This Model A has parade history with long-time Islanders Wilma and Buck Ray, and is one of many “island rides” Gramps has collected. Lahari’s new program is Orcas Door to Door, and is designed to pick up and deliver seniors to appointments and events. Car loaded down with bling, off we went down North Beach Road through Eastsound, horn a-tootin! Orcas Island’s 4th of July Parade always ends the Mayoral Race where we elect our new Mayor for the year. This is a fundraiser for Children’s House and gets all ages out and involved in our local pets and politics. Congrats to Hudson, our new Mayor.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Back at Grama’s house, we spent the remainder of the day playing in last year’s 4th of July Parade First Place float, the playhouse. There is always something going on here!

We also had a chance to check out next year’s parade entry – an old fire truck that was used at a private residence years ago for fire protection. I wonder what Grama and Gramps will dream up for next year’s parade entry. Collecting island memorabilia and sharing history is a big part of this island family life.

And, lucky for us Grampa knows the nice people at Island Hardware and Supply and he has a truck (well a few he’s collected). Grampa just called those people up to check on swimming pools, then came home with one for us! It is always hot on the 4th!

The last weekend in June, the Garden Club showcases local gardens and raises funds for projects and grants to island non-profits, including the “Farm to Cafeteria” garden at the public school, a seed library at the library, rain gardens in Eastsound Village, and many other wonderful projects. The Garden Club meets monthly and members have a wealth of knowledge and local know-how for growing flowers, vegetables, fruit and native plants. Grama T showed us how to pick peas and raspberries in her garden. Although not on the tour, she has many remedies for growing and eating. This year she has a few choice words for the raccoons who enjoyed all the Rainier cherries before Grampa could get out and protect the tree trunks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There’s always a good meal in Grama’s back patio with BBQ of local beef brisket, greens from the garden, roasted baby potatoes-carrots-leeks-garlic-broccoli, peas right out of the pod, raspberries and Roses’ bread. Desert was Lopez Island Creamery ice cream smothered in strawberries. Family, food, friends. Does not get better than that!

When the summer days get too hot, Grama always knows where the best beaches are on Orcas. This time she took us to Westsound near the Orcas Island Yacht Club. There are two docks located there, the OI Yacht Club’s and a County public dock. Grama and Gramps sometimes take their sailboat, the Blue Pearl, to Westsound and hang out on these docks – easy walking to the Westsound Café. Also, deep into Westsound is Massacre Bay where you are sure to get some wind. Today we just collected shells and searched for sea creatures. This beach is usually empty and is quite sizable at low tide. Clam digging and crabbing are my favorites. Hope we get to do that next time. Today we made friends.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you are going to visit your Grama be sure to tell her all about the island fun, family, friends and food that is happening for kids on Orcas!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Leave a comment

Filed under Community, Family Life, Gardening, Kids, Nature

Dandelion … Friend or Foe?

mandy-on-brick

 

 

 

 

 
By Mandy Randolph

Oh the wondrous dandelion!

Colleen dandelion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring has sprung on Orcas Island and so have the dandelions! When I look out across the lush green spring grass and see it polka-dotted with the yellow flowers of the dandelion, I smile. Others see this scene and they shudder, and then make plans for attack.

Dandy kid

The dandelion is a flower! However,  with its rapid growth and  invasive nature, some people are hesitant to admit this and instead call them weeds.

Dandy Garden

I can understand why gardeners want to keep dandelions from growing in their sacred plots. The root grows strong and deep which makes it particularly difficult to remove. The seeds have the most amazing system for disbursement and can actually travel up to five miles!

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 6.52.40 PM

But did you know that every part of the dandelion is edible? Yes! It is true! The root can be chopped and roasted and made into a delicious, earthy tasting tea. The leaves can eaten fresh in salads or served sautéed. Dandelion pesto is another delicious way to enjoy this yummy plant. The yellow flowers can be used to brighten up your meal or battered and fried and served as fritters!

 

Dandelions are good for you too!

health benefits

Dandelions are fun!

How many of you picked your mother a bouquet straight from the yard as a young child?

dandy Johnny

Do you remember holding a dandelion under a friend’s chin to determine if they loved butter or not?

do you like butter?

 

Have you watched a child decorate their skin with the yellow pollen from a dandelion?

Ada

Ever make a dandelion chain to wear in your hair?

dandy-chain

 

Did you ever just lay in the sunny yellow spotted grass watching the bees happily move from flower to flower?

Finn dandy

Can you recall the hopefulness you felt wishing on a dandelion gone to seed?

Johnny wish

When you really stop to think about it, you will see that the dandelion is our friend, not a foe. So the next time you see a grassy patch full of yellow spots of sunshine, remember all the children and bees and how happy those flowers make them. And if you happen to be hungry… go ahead a have a snack!

EPSON MFP image

4 year old Mandy holding a bouquet of dandelions!

If you are looking to buy some land on Orcas Island where you can enjoy the simple pleasures of growing your own dandelions, give me a call. I’d be happy to show you some great dandelion patches.

Save

Leave a comment

Filed under Community, Family Life, Gardening, Kids, Nature, Uncategorized

A Free Festival of Trees!

mandy-on-brick

By Mandy Randolph

The sixth annual Festival of Trees is happening this month at Rosario Resort. Visitors can come to see the uniquely decorated trees in the main lobby of the resort’s mansion. The trees are decorated by local non profit organizations with ornaments that portray what each organization embodies. There is a pet themed tree from the Animal Protection Society, and tree of smiling children’s faces from The FunHouse, and a wild animal themed tree from Wolf Hollow. And of course the garden of wonders tree created by students in my class to represent the Orcas Island Farm to Cafeteria program. Each tree is a beautiful representation of the great things the non-profits in our community do to contribute to making this a wonderful place to live.

Every year for 6 years now my students in Farm to Classroom at Orcas Island Elementary School have created beautiful handmade ornaments to decorate our tree. This year is no exception! Our ornaments represent many of the topics that we have studied so far this year.

water-star

A magnified image of a frozen molecule of water serves as the star of our tree.

It is tradition for the kindergarten students to string the popcorn. A lesson involving proper use of needles, using caution for tender fingers, and methods for perfecting the long untangled strand. Some children approach the situation with caution and others with wild abandon. Even though the popcorn is days old (easier to string without breaking) the children still enjoy eating as much as they string.

Our third grade students used a photo paper called cyanotype that uses the sunlight to expose images. The children choose items from our garden and placed them on the paper in the sun. After 10 minutes they rinsed the paper in water and set the images.

20161206_101628

We have an interactive element to our tree this year. You can use one of the many magnifying glasses hanging on our tree to look into the tiny bottles filled with seeds hanging from the branches. You will find papers with glued on seeds clothespinned to the tree also. We have been busy saving seeds this fall and thought this would be a fun way to share some of our seed knowledge and excitement.

After studying apples this fall and learning that every apple has a star in it, we just had to include some dried apple slices with stars proudly displayed on our tree.

20161206_102412

Please come admire our hard work and place a vote for our tree if you feel compelled. You can buy tickets for $1 each and place them in the voting boxes of the trees of your choice. All of the proceeds go directly to the non-profits and you will be entered for prizes from Rosario Resort and Spa and Kenmore Air. Rosario will be hosting a special Open House this weekend December 9-11 daily between 12pm and 8pm. You can enjoy the trees as well as complimentary cookies and hot apple cider.

festival of trees.png

If you can’t make it this weekend, the trees will be up through the New Year.

20161206_101045

Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

holleyrandolphMINI-8.jpg

Mandy and family… Johnny, Jordan and Zach.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Arts & Crafts, Community, Decor, Family Life, Gardening, Kids, Nature, Uncategorized

Celebrating Summer in the School Garden

A long and productive spring in the school garden led right up to the last day of school! What better way to celebrate and culminate another school year than with a pizza party in the garden?2016PizzaParty_SchoolGarden (11 of 17)

Orcas Island Elementary students each spend one hour a week working in the school garden in a class I teach called Farm to Classroom. At almost 8,000 square feet, the school garden requires individual attention from each of the 200 students. Some children take on assigned tasks such as weeding, hauling compost and planting.

2016PizzaParty_SchoolGarden (16 of 17)

Harvesting strawberries and pulling weeds.

Other children take on projects of their own choosing. One class was dubbed “the diggers” for their love of digging!

13509737_1783695341866355_38009144_o

“The Diggers”

Another group of students took weekly responsibility for watering plants.

13499604_1783696268532929_564887034_oOne boy decided it was time to properly install the large stainless sink we salvaged from the old shop building before it was torn down. Each week he would lead a group in the many steps it took to put  the sink in its final resting place.

When the wood chips arrived, donated by Tim’s Tractor Service and delivered by Tim’s son James Segault of Island Climb Inc., the students ban together to move the massive mountain all around the garden. Throughout all of this garden work you can see real-world examples of children caring for the environment, working together, problem solving, communicating, using physical skills, and eating healthy. These are important life skills that no standardized test can ever measure.

13460971_1783694615199761_583825104_o

A delivery of wood chips for our paths from Tim’s Tractor Service and Island Climbing Inc.

13461118_1783696195199603_778066065_o

Working together to move a mountain of wood chips!

13467820_1783695661866323_799680034_o

Unloading a truck full of firewood. Many hands make for light work.

A cornerstone of the children’s time in the garden is the idea that you may only enjoy the fruits of your labor, after you labor! The last ten minutes of each class is dedicated to “harvest time”. During this time the children graze in the garden, eating fresh from the plants they have nurtured. This may be one of the most rewarding times for me as the teacher. It only seemed fitting to end our school year with a garden pizza party using our cob oven.

The pizza party couldn’t happen with out the help and generous donation of James Ferraris of Soul Flour Bakery, AKA The Pizza Man!  James makes the best pizza dough and knows how to bring each pizza out with the perfect amount of doneness.

The children are the real artists at this event. They are supplied pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. The rest is up to them! The toppings come from the plants they lovingly grew. Pizzas topped with strawberries, sorrel and mint are popular. Garlic scapes, borage flowers, rosemary and raspberries top others. There is no limit to the creations they come up with. After each pizza comes out of the oven the chef or chefs responsible tell their classmates what ingredients they used. Then the creators get the first slices and the other children sample after them. Pizza after pizza comes through in this way. The children turn into food critics, analyzing the combinations placed before them. The pizza is devoured and never are the usual pepperoni and sausage toppings missed.

Another remarkable year in the school garden has been completed. If you would like to see our garden please stop by and check it out. If you would like a tour of the garden, we will be on this year’s Orcas Island Garden Club tour June 25th and 26th.

Now that school is out, I’ll be spending the summer with family and friends, taking road trips, and helping people buy and sell real estate on this amazing Island I call home. I love summertime on Orcas Island!

13499422_1783915411844348_1128776760_o

Johnny visiting Momma in the garden.

 

Save

Leave a comment

Filed under Community, Family Life, Gardening, Kids, Nature, Uncategorized

Autumn in the School Garden

12212331_1700619486840608_677858461_n

Mandy with her son in the school garden.

After a busy summer of family, fun, and real estate, I was ready to get back to school. The warm and dry summer did wonders for my spirit and for our school garden. While the grass had turned brown and crunchy across the island, our school garden was thriving with the addition of a drip watering system that Craig Sanders of Island Irrigation generously installed for us.

September came, and so did the rain! The first day of school welcomed our students with a torrential down pour. The brown grass that had become our reality early in the summer turned green once again and we got another beautiful “Indian Summer” on Orcas Island. What a relief for this teacher since my best lesson plans revolved around days spent in the garden.

12212142_1700620776840479_926303956_n12231703_1700616790174211_971087_n12231683_1700616863507537_1883753175_n

The sunflowers had grown to great heights since the students patted the soil over the seeds last May. After enjoying their grandeur for several weeks we brought them down to harvest their seeds. The children enjoyed pulling each seed from the giant heads. Many seeds were eaten and many more were saved for replanting next season.

The potatoes were dug with excitement and squeals of delight as each different potato was unearthed. The potatoes were boxed and put in cold storage for cooking projects later in the winter.

The pumpkin patch was our newest expansion in the garden. We broke ground last spring, hand digging the area and carefully spacing our pumpkin seeds. We had a very successful harvest, growing over 200 pumpkins in our brand new patch! We had enough small pumpkins to send one home with each student! The larger pumpkins were processed in the classroom. We scraped them out and saved the seeds; roasting enough for everyone to enjoy a handful and saving the rest for replanting next spring. We baked and pureed the pumpkins and have over 100 cups waiting in the freezer for our pumpkin pie baking lesson.

There are so many jobs to do in the school garden. With over 215 students spending an hour a week in the garden you would think we would run out of jobs to do, but we never do!

Beyond the harvesting of herbs, tomatoes, calendula flowers, kale, watermelon, and carrots, there are many other garden jobs to take part in.

Raking the leaves of the maple tree is a favorite job for many. We learned that one way we can keep our beloved tree healthy is to rake its leaves up under it and let them compost there over the winter, in essence feeding the tree! With only 5 rakes available the kids must regulate taking turns. We are not just feeding the tree, but also practicing our social skills.

We are lucky to have wood chips donated to our garden by John Olsen, the Tree Doctor. The kids spend lots of time reinforcing the pathways with wood chips. In this process they learn to work together and even team up to fix a broken wheel barrow! The children work hard and see the results of their work.

One of the most difficult garden jobs is the pruning of the blackberry bushes. While we appreciate the natural fence the bushes provide and the delicious berries, we are in a constant battle to keep them from taking over two edges of our garden. The work is hard and often times painful, but there are always students who are willing to do it.

12204955_1700616570174233_1647529556_n

After putting in all of this work we remind the students of why we do this by rewarding them with 10 minutes of harvest time at the end of each class. This is when the students scramble to create the most delicious “garden burrito” possible! It is gratifying to the adults who witness this time as we watch the children happily eating their veggies.

We harvested, composted, dug and double dug. We created new beds and cover cropped old ones. We put our garden to bed for the winter. And to celebrate we fired up our cob oven and had a PIZZA PARTY!

With the generous donation of his time and talent, James Ferraris of Soul Flour Bakery helped us to make the best garden pizzas ever! There was pizza sauce and mozzerella cheese as a base.  The rest was left up to the creativity of the children, and creative they were. The ingredients were all fresh from the garden. There were ground cherries and rosemary, sorrel and chives. You name it, they made it. Yes, there was even a worm pizza. One little girl said, “I didn’t think I’d like a vegetable pizza, but I tasted it and I do!” This is what it is all about. Showing kids where food comes from, teaching them to work hard, and watching them enjoy the fruits of their labors.

12233065_1700616073507616_660097075_n

 

Happy harvest season to you all!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Community, Family Life, Gardening, Kids, Nature, Uncategorized