Spring has brought so much growth to the Garden! Students and families have put in long hours to get our garden ready for the planting season. Now we're watching and tending proudly as basil, tomatoes, kale, radishes, peas, lettuce, cilantro, spinach.. and so much more grows steadily. We're looking forward to planting cucumbers, squash, melons, pumpkins, tomatillos and peppers! We've had a blast making mason bee homes, publishing a cook book, preparing for the Springwater pond and attending the Oregon Green Schools Summit. Looking ahead, we can't wait to debut the Springwater Farmstand at VIP day. Alongside the plant swap, consider supporting the garden by purchasing some fresh produce and a copy of the first ever Springwater Cookbook. Meanwhile, enjoy some photos documenting the unfurling of spring in the garden.
The end of Winter and beginning of Spring has brought some major developments to the Spring Water Garden! From releasing mason bees, revitalizing the Rain Garden with the generous support of the Clackamas County Master Gardeners, encountering wild bunnies in the greenhouse and starting seeds, the Spring magic is in full force. Students have been noticing the many signs of Spring-- rhubarb awakening, bulbs unfurling, and a host of wildlife finding home in our garden. Come by to see the transformation for yourself. A big thank you to the families who came out to support the garden during our Garden work party. Students are looking forward to spending time in the new bean tee-pee!
Coming up, the Foxes will be helping to plant out more of the Forest Garden and start warm weather seedlings, River Otters will be constructing their aquaponics and native pond model, the Blue Herons will continue to revitalize the Rain Garden by enriching the soil and planting native plants, Dragonflies will be planting flowers for pollinators and Oak Leaves will explore various habitats that our garden creates.
Meanwhile, the garden electives are hard at work creating an official Springwater Recipe Book, assessing the school's sustainability efforts, preparing for the Gresham Green Schools Summit, and building mason bee nesting homes.
Here's a peek into what we've been up to!
Take a peek into our winter gardening season-- the days may be short but they certainly are not dull! Here's a bit of what our students have been up to:
The 7th grade Foxes have been spending some time exploring the ins and outs of the food system and its many interconnected threads. We are looking forward to a visit to the Helping Hands food pantry in Colton to help stock shelves alongside Colton High School students this Spring.
River Otters have successfully started their Aquaponic growing model and are exploring the careful balance of the nitrification cycle. We've been taking advantage of nice days to sheet mulch weedy areas in the garden and build our soil.
Blue Herons continue their soil investigations in preparation for soil medium experiments and garden planning. We will also be culminating an amphibian study unit by sprucing up the rain garden and building frog habitat.
Dragonflies and Oak Leaves are becoming seed experts and experimenting with mini "greenhouses" to watch the germination process in action.
Garden Makers have been busy making found object art, bird feeders, beet hummus and homemade herb butter!
As the soil slowly warms and days grow longer, we are looking forward to planning our garden and seed starting in our green houses!
As we wrap up the final garden classes of 2017, we are lucky to be visited by the sun! Blue skies have been a welcome friend during our outdoor explorations. Coming back from the Winter break, students are looking forward to winter inquiry projects where they'll have the chance to explore aquaponic growing, how seeds travel, garden planning and more. Perusing seed catalogs is building our anticipation for the growing season!
Meanwhile, we've been busy in the garden exploring decomposition, practicing math skills via pumpkins & making beeswax candles. Students were able to enjoy late Fall harvests of bok choy, spinach, chard, radishes, lettuce, kale, cabbage, celery, sun chokes and herbs. Taking advantage of the bounty, our garden chefs have prepared salad, stir fry, smoothies and even veggie sushi. Enjoy the photos below for a taste of what we've been up to.
A big thank you to all the parent volunteers helping out with garden classes & the many donations we've received that bring these moments to life! Coming up, we've got a few things on our list to make Winter projects happen:
If you're looking for some inspiration to get those greens on the table, students loved this green stir fry we prepared:
Green Stir Fry
Wash your hands and all greens. Chop or rip greens into bite sized pieces.
Heat skillet on medium-high heat and add sesame oil. When oil is warm, add in garlic and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add in greens and carrots and sauté for 2-3 minutes until wilted.
Stir in soy sauce, lime juice and rice vinegar. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until greens cooked to desired texture and liquids have cooked down.
Serve and enjoy!
As we close out October, I'm enjoying these glorious sunny days with admiration for all the hard work Springwater students have put into the garden these past two months. Planting, mulching, seed saving, building cloches, and cooking remind us that Fall is a joyful and abundant time to be in the garden. A highlight from the month was burying the salmon that the Blue Herons dissected in the garden-- we're curious how quickly they will decompose!
As the seasons change, our focus will turn to deeper investigation of inquiry themes including pollination, seed science, aquaponics (and other alternative growing solutions), nutrition, and food systems.
Looking for a delicious Fall recipe? Try our Kale Salad-- students rate it a 10!
September in the Springwater garden has been a whirlwind of tasty discovery! In my first weeks of teaching, I have watched students demonstrate so much enthusiasm, care and knowledge throughout our first garden sessions. From plant part scavenger hunts to making fresh pesto and preparing our garden beds for the Fall garden, there hasn't been a dull moment in sight! As the rains come and seeds set, we are looking forward to plant garlic, cold hardy veggies, and cover crops to feed our soil. Don't forget to stop by the garden during Family Friday to help prepare fresh salsa and to share in the remains of the harvest!
The Foxes worked hard this winter to build indoor raised beds for the Green Classroom. The beds are finally finished and the students have begun growing plants inside. We're looking forward to finally putting the "green" in our Green Classroom!
The Green Classroom has been finished and we've already begun hosting garden classes inside. This outdoor learning space was fundraised for by Springwater students and supported by the school in the spring of 2016. It was built over the summer and fall with Dana Geister's generous volunteer work and is now in the process of being transformed into a classroom by the students.
Almost every class produced a brainstorm of what they would like the greenhouse to look like, contain, and what kinds of experiences they would like to have inside it. It's the first step in creating a student-inspired and built learning space!
Five years after beginning this garden program, who could imagine what garden class looks like now.
I have just come back from the garden amazed by Springwater students. I’m not surprised that they forgot my basic lesson on how deep to plant a seed or what a bulb is—these are yearly, even weekly, lessons I reiterate throughout their years as students and in more complex detail as they get older. What amazes me is that when my quick lesson and instruction are over and I send the students off to garden in their small groups, they perform their tasks with the grace and confidence of older, more experienced gardeners.
They may just now be learning how tulip bulbs become dormant and use gravitropism to grow in the spring—these new words perhaps a muddled bit of information now floating through their thoughts—but they take to their hand shovels comfortably, dig the right sized holes, think about design and placement, and carefully pack their bulbs in for the winter. They chatter quietly, keeping in mind that the garden is an ecosystem filled with many homes. They calmly explore the mole holes they dig into and discuss what else lives in them. They keep their eyes on the cherry tomatoes they long to munch on when the time is right. They go about their tasks as only seasoned gardeners do: looking for seasonal changes, acknowledging the egg sacks and insects sharing their space, focusing on doing slow, careful work—the mark of a good gardener.
This class, in particular, I have taught since they were in Kindergarten. They were the youngest students to remember the prickly thistle jungle our garden resembled. They have weeded, mulched, explored, and nibbled their way across every inch of the space. And five years later, they explore the garden as collaborators, scientists, and each—individually—a gardener.
What an incredible gift to say that they have gardened nearly their entire life. What will garden class be like three years from now, when they finish their last year at Springwater? What kinds of gardens will these children grow?
So much growth has happened since we started the Garden Program 4 years ago. Here's is a snapshot of this year's development.
With the 2015 school year well underway, our school garden is thriving alongside Springwater students. All grades are delving in their garden studies, learning about worms, seeds, soil ecosystems, and how to care for our garden.
Student efforts to grow a cold season garden have been very successful, with chard, lettuce, onions, arugula, and a variety of root vegetables feeding out students all the way to winter break.
The middle school students are expanding the garden program to now include an oaks savanna and a rain garden. Keep a look out for updates on these great projects!
The 2nd-3rd grade Salmon released some of their Painted Lady butterflies into the garden today. Immediately, the butterflies were able to pick out flowers and begin drinking and pollinating! The students raised these butterflies in the classroom from the beginning stages and were so excited to see their learning and work pay off.
Another new FFS event happened last Friday in the Springwater garden. As part of a large scale, 3-hour chemistry event, Kaci Rae hosted small groups of 7th-8th graders in the outdoor classroom to learn about pH testing and the chemistry behind garden soils. Students learned how organic and permaculture gardeners identify problems when the soils aren't productive to certain types of plants and how to solve these issues with on-hand and natural processes. After conducting soil and pH tests, students gave advice on how to amend the garden soils. We look forward to practicing these suggestions when gardening class begins again after Spring Break.
In a new collaborative experiment to create relevant and hands on math experiences, the 4th grade class and Kaci Rae teamed up for a FFS Math In The Garden event. In small groups, students rotated through sessions focused on the ratios of weed parts, the perimeter of garden beds, and solving measurement problems while planting potatoes. Overall, it was a beautiful day, the students had fun, and we were able to pilot a new math event!
The idea of student gardeners seems obvious; the whole school gardens every week! But some students want to do more on their own time. A few groups of mixed aged students devote their breaks to getting their hands dirty and growing a garden. The idea is that they can work a plot in the garden as they wish to, with advice from me, and will grow plants for Taste Test Tuesday, as well as for the school. It is admittedly hard to keep quiet when they want to do something I wouldn't do, but that is learning! For them and for me. And their ideas are wonderful in the end. Keep your eyes out in our garden for student run plots and watch them grow!
Tucked in the Gridley Annex next to Kaci Rae's office space, there is a three tiered black shelf filled with gardening advice books, seed catalogs, and a wealth of garden themed books for K-8th graders. While most of these books are used in garden classes with students, adult community members are able to access these books if they would like to explore gardening ideas, advice, or planning. Titles include: Gardening For Health and Nutrition, The Year I Ate My Yard, and The Natural Food Garden.
We are also looking for garden book donations to fill the library shelves. If you have some gardening themed books that you would like to find a new home for, feel free to contact Kaci Rae about donating them.
Beginning this spring and summer, Springwater students and families will see the front entrance of the school begin to change. Insect hotels will be erected, the ground will be mulched and composted, pathways will be shaped, and pollinator habitat structures will be built. Over the course of the year, the landscape will alter into a beautiful pollinator garden and learning center.
Springwater is partnering with the Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District to develop this area into a refuge and home for native pollinators. With their generous support of $10,000 and the aid of planner Erik Carr, the Springwater garden program will be incorporating this project into the springtime pollinator lessons for the K-1st grade classes. Students will study the plants, colors, shapes, and habitat for local pollinators and, come fall, will participate in the planting aspect of the project.
This idea began from a concern by myself, Kaci Rae, in noticing the need for native pollinator habitat to help the newly developed Springwater garden. I reached out to Erik Carr at the CCSWCD, and began to meet with him to discuss the potential for developing a pollinator space at the school, in order to provide habitat and to create an education space for the students and families. I am positive that this new space will fit in perfectly with the goals of Springwater. It will provide new environmental and science lessons for all the classes, it will beautify the school grounds, and it will be a refuge for the struggling populations of certain native pollinators.
The area is to the left of the school entrance, surrounding the existing Springwater sign. There will be an informational sign that students will help design, and a variety of habitat structures: bee/bird boxes, log rounds for habitat structure, insect hotels, basalt water basins, and more.
While CCSWCD is providing the funding and planning support of this project, Springwater has been asked to provide the maintenance and care of the new space. If you are interested in gardening with flowers or would like to know more about pollinators and habitat building, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. Any and all support of this project would be wonderful!
We have seen immense change come to our garden over the past few months. The snow and freezing weather have made it somewhat difficult to develop the garden space. But despite these challenges, we have jumpstarted our compost, vermicomposting, and mulching projects with Springwater students.
Last Friday, the River Otters and Blue Herons participated in a great day of mulching new areas of the garden, getting one step closer to finishing our garden development. The Blue Herons have been learning all about red wiggler worms and have made a home for our new worms in three bins near the shed. They learned how to layer the necessary ingredients to provide a good habitat for these helpful creatures.
Springwater students and garden classes are looking forward to planting and imagining the beautiful and bountiful possibilities of the garden. Both Fox classes are designing, developing, and acquiring the necessary materials and plants to build an orchard in the west end of the garden. We can’t wait to see what it will look like!
We want to thank the community partners and donors who have supported our garden program over the past few months. Food Waves is a non-profit who has supported our garden by providing us with raised beds, seeds, plant starts, and greenhouse tables. We are happy to partner with them again this year to provide food for Springwater students and to finish our orchard project in the garden. Pistils Nurserygenerously provided the first of the worms for the vermicomposting project. Home Depot and Boyd’s Coffee have also provided mulching materials for our many garden projects.
A final thank you for all the parents and volunteers who have provided leaves, straw, and work time out in the garden, supporting the garden program and the development of this space for Springwater students and families.