Long Beach second graders are working in the garden to prepare a farm-to-table feast. Today we tended our new seedlings and reflected on how much farming in America has changed over time. Students pondered questions like:
Today we partnered with science students from CSULB to install a native plant habitat in front of Lowell Elementary School. Using truly local species from our coastal chaparral, we planted a variety of shrubs, trees, and other perennials that should be well adapted to our local climate and weather patterns. After a few growing seasons, these plants will support local pollinators and other animals as food, shelter, and breeding grounds. Thank you Professor Paul Laris for showing your students how restoration happens.
For Valentines Day we made chocolate with a group of local fourth graders. This tasty lesson highlights the importance and function of the rainforest ecosystem. Cacao trees (Theobroma cacao) grow in the forest understory and can be cultivated without clear cutting or habitat destruction. And since the world consumes two billion pounds of chocolate each year, there is an ample market for sustainably cultivated cacao beans. Students were fascinated by the unique look and growing habits of the cacao tree and enjoyed a classic delicacy – chocolate dipped strawberries.
Our fifth grade colonial farmers smelled fresh and looked relaxed this week as we worked with lavender in the garden. During colonial times, lavender was used to freshen the home and body, since bathing was a luxury, and to release tension after a long day’s work. Our young colonists got to eat lavender muffins, harvest and bundle lavender for drying, and sew their own dried lavender sachets. As we continue to work with our dooryard herbs, students gain a first-hand appreciation for the important medicinal and culinary uses of plants.
Our third grade curriculum includes a four-part Economics and Community arc, designed to complement the Social Studies standards. Our goal is to plant and harvest a farm full of cool season vegetables, culminating in a student-run produce sale with all profits donated to charity. Along the way, we explore the concept of price, profits, and advertising and think together about how businesses can be good community citizens. While we wait for our veggies to grow, we practiced our role as small business owners by operating a smoothie shop. This week third graders tried their hand at managing employees, prepping and blending food, bussing tables and washing dishes. It was a fun and delicious way to learn that being a business owner is a complex job.
A seed is sleepy, patiently waiting for a kindergartner to tuck it into the soil, so it can take its one shot at fulfilling its destiny. This month 90 students at Lowell Elementary learned the concepts of germination through story, improvisation, and journaling. This multi-disciplinary approach helped solidify the sequence of steps it takes for a seed to become a sprout. Next month, we will plant a full range of seeds in our kindergarten beds and witness the process first-hand as we grow the ingredients for our salad people party. We can’t wait!
This week we launched a new partnership with Westerly School, a progressive k-8 private school in Long Beach, CA. We are bringing our award-winning curriculum to their newly constructed learning garden space, complete with a greenhouse and composting infrastructure. On our first day, we worked with students to propagate seeds in hand rolled newspaper pots in preparation for our Winter vegetable giving garden. We look forward to many seasons of growing together…thank you and welcome Westerly!