It’s been gratifying to see students in the garden over the past month planting seeds and starts. The after-school gardening club is in full swing, teachers are planting with their students, and the space is being used broadly as an outdoor classroom.
School Learning Garden Network meeting
Gatewood hosted the spring School Learning Garden Network meeting last week organized by Seattle Schools’ Self-Help Program and Tilth Alliance, where we were able to share our process and garden to date with other learning garden advocates from across the city. Information and resources were shared by the district, Tilth, the Whole Kids Foundation, and the USDA Farm to School Program, as well as between teachers and volunteers working in their own school gardens.
Tilth Alliance Garden Educator workshops
Teacher Jeannie Revello and I were able to attend the spring Garden Educator Workshop offered by Tilth this past weekend, which was full of great information about managing the garden over the summer, tips for cooking with kids, playful ways to encourage trying new foods and mindful eating around a shared meal from the garden, integrated pest management, watering tips, and building a squash tunnel.
A highlight was being set free in the Tilth garden to harvest greens, herbs, and edible flowers to make salads we then ate for lunch, as a demonstration of what teachers could do to harvest and cook with students. Here’s a photo of one salad before it was tossed, laden with edible flowers like violas and lavender and herbs including cilantro, fennel, and thyme. Beautiful and delicious both.
As the weather finally heats up, one useful tip from Tilth was to teach kids to water “low and slow,” i.e. gently at the roots of the plants where the plant drinks, not over the top of them where moisture on leaves can encourage disease in warm weather. One trick they shared is to have kids draw a smiley face in the soil around the plant, then have them water in the mouth. : )
Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant
We were excited to learn recently that Gatewood has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program, which will go a long way toward a tool shed, water catchment and composting systems, and other next steps in building our garden. More on that to come.