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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Garden May 2012
I thought it would be interesting to look at how different a garden can be from year to year. This is where we are at today. The Spring has been wet and soggy, and things have gotten planted much later than last year. This bed used to be filled to the brim with kale and greens. Now we've got some broccoli, and...I'm not really sure. This was planted by the 3rd-and 4th-graders. I'll have to ask them next time I see them. Behind this bed is the 2nd graders peas which are really happy and starting to climb.

Garden May 2011
This is the garden one year ago, May 2011, our first season. If you recall, we built the raised beds in March and had dry enough weather that we could plant some cool weather crops like lettuce and peas. All these starts came from Minto Island Growers and they were fantastic! I ate that lettuce all the way into July, when summer really starts in Oregon.

Do you notice the nice mulching in between the beds? We call that hogsfuel if you were wondering and I don't think it has anything to do with pigs, but I might be wrong. We had a huge pile delivered to freshen up the paths and keep things a little less muddy. But it's been so rainy we haven't been able to spread it. So do you know what happens when you have a really big pile of dirt unattended at an elementary school?
See below:

Some adventurous, imaginative children created a...what? Castle? Fort? Ladders to the top of the mountain? Whatever you call it, I bet it was a lot of fun to play on! Needless to say, we cleaned it up before McKinley students saw it because there would be no way to keep them off of this dirt pile with so much fun to be had. Isn't it great to see kids looking around at a bunch of wood, wire fencing and shredded bark, and creating something entertaining and cool with what's on hand, outside. No electronics or plastic toys needed. Now that is creative thinking and problem solving in action!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What a healthy school lunch might look like

The Berkeley school district has revolutionized and changed the way their community looks at school lunches, and what they are serving their children. Alice Waters and the Edible Schoolyard were pioneers in this effort.

What can we do here in Salem-Keizer? The link above will give you a little inspiration.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mark your calendars!!

Party in the Garden
June 1st, 5:30-8:00

BBQ, music, activities for kids, and much more! Look for a flyer in your child's backpack soon.

Tuesday garden work days

Calling all enthusiastic gardener's! 
Doesn't the sunshine and warm weather make you want to dig in the dirt and plant things and transform a landscape? Well I have the perfect place to do all those things! 

Come linger awhile after school on Tuesdays and help clean up the garden.
We have a list of things we would like to do, and would like as many people as possible to come get involved and make your mark on the school garden.

Are you really, really anxious?
You can come this Friday too! 

Don't forget the McKinley school carnival is Friday night. You can help out in the garden, grab a quick dinner in the cafeteria starting at 5:30, and enjoy the fun!

 You don't want to miss it!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Helpin' my school!!

Some of Mrs. S's 3rd- and 4th-graders came out on Monday to clean up one of the beds that was in bad need of weeding. They came out in shifts, generously giving up some time in Math to yank some weeds, and tidy up the grounds.

You can't see me!

The next time you walk in from the parking lot near the gym, take a look at the dandelion-free ground cover and less weedy berry patch (I think there's a raspberry and blueberry bush out there...).

Is this a weed? Why yes it is.

Check it out! A HUGE earthworm!
They must have some good dirt to eat around here.
One student put it perfectly, he was "helpin' my school!" Exactly! We all pitch in when and where we can to make McKinley the best school it can be. It's a community effort. If anyone is in need of some enthusiastic weeders, let me know. I know where you can find them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Buying Local--why are we doing this?

buylocal_logo2.jpgA lot of people might wonder why is it that we spend so much time and energy on a school garden and getting better, local food in the cafeteria. There are a lot of reasons to support your local economy, and food is a really easy way to do it. Here are some compelling reasons:     

  Locally grown food tastes better. 
Food grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. It's crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in from California, Florida, Chile or Holland is, quite understandably, much older. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality.
  Local produce is better for you. A recent study showed that fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. Food that is frozen or canned soon after harvest is actually more nutritious than some "fresh" produce that has been on the truck or supermarket shelf for a week. Locally grown food, purchased soon after harvest, retains its nutrients.
  Local food preserves genetic diversity. 
In the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment; for a tough skin that can survive packing and shipping; and for an ability to have a long shelf life in the store. Local farms, in contrast, grow a huge number of varieties to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavors. Many varieties are heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation, because they taste good. 
    Local food is GMO-free. Local farmers don't have access to genetically modified seed, and most of them wouldn't use it even if they could. A June 2001 survey by ABC News showed that 93% of Americans want labels on genetically modified food - most so that they can avoid it. If you are opposed to eating bioengineered food, you can rest assured that locally grown produce was bred the old-fashioned way, as nature intended.
Local food supports local farm families. 
With fewer than 1 million Americans now claiming farming as their primary occupation, farmers are a vanishing breed. And no wonder - commodity prices are at historic lows, often below the cost of production. The farmer now gets less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food - which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, doing the work they love.
Local food builds community. 
When you buy direct from the farmer, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower. Knowing the farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the weather, and the miracle of raising food. 
Local food preserves open space. 
As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely.  When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape.
Local food keeps your taxes in check.Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes, according to several studies. For each dollar of revenue raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend 34 cents on services.
Local food supports a clean environment and benefits wildlife. 
A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued.  The habitat of a farm - the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings - is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife, including bluebirds, killdeer, herons, bats, and rabbits.
Local food is about the future. 
By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food.

Weeding, weeding we go...

Do you know what gardens really need in April? They need some TLC--some tender loving care. There are a lot of weeds trying to take over your healthy strawberry plants. Very prickly, thorny weeds to be exact. And there are those pesky weeds with the little white flowers and the seed heads that explode in your face when you try to pull them up. Not good. 

Needless to say, we had a few--the determined and disciplined--volunteers to help weed the school garden this last lovely Earth day. It was lovely in that the sun was out. It was really out. I mean, it was hotter than 70 degrees. In April. We are ready for warmer weather and sun, but that's hot.

Thank you thank you to the Majeski family, Deanne, Kim, Thad and the other helpers that came out to work in the garden. Thad, who is always ready and willing to build something new for our garden.

If you are thinking, "Oh darn! I missed it." Don't despair!! Another work day is in the near future. Look for a flyer coming from school or here for more info. Spring is well on it's way and the garden is gearing up for a productive season!

Weeding, Weeding the future          
Strawberry beds.

Have you noticed the guy in the red shirt? He's doing a lot of  work out there. Or maybe he's just in all my pictures...

This, is a box for strawberries. A new home to keep them cozy and contained. Won't they be so happy? Won't WE be so happy to eat those strawberries this summer?Did you know that one of the only things that was regularly picked from the garden this summer was strawberries? The families that helped water never came down and said, "Oh look, there's all these extra strawberries. What are we going to do? " Thank you McKinley neighbors.