The Garden at Oswegatchie School is a sustainable organic garden where children get a hands on experience learning where their food comes from while developing an appreciation and respect for nature. The Garden will be a learning center to teach gardening as well as incorporating art, music, literature, math and science. It is a place where children are encouraged to join in and participate in the process of creating, developing and maintaining the garden!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

29 Pounds and Counting!

29 1/4 pounds harvested today!
It's been a while since I've been in the Garden or created a post. We had a family emergency that put all things garden on hold. It was nice to finally get back into the Garden and get my hands dirty again. The children haven't been in the Garden for over a week and came back today full of excitement and enthusiasm as much had changed in their absence. I'd forgotten how uplifting their shouts of joy can be! They got back into the routine pretty quickly and got right to work.

The first thing children do when they get here in the morning is to walk around and observe any changes that may have occurred and explore the garden.

checking cucumber growth

measuring the tallest sunflower (it is as tall as Mr. Terry)

bug expedition
Many things were ready to be harvested with many more to follow shortly. Today they harvested cukes, garlic, and onions. To total came to 29 1/4 pounds! Soon we will have tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and spaghetti squash.

pulling garlic is hard work!

There was enough for everyone to harvest
The children almost get as big a thrill out of weighing the produce as they do picking it.

"The garlic smells yummy."

This is one of 5 we have growing.

Rob uncovered one to see how they are coming along.


Today we talked about seeds and the children we able to explore of the few that are forming in the Garden now. They decided it was okay if the finches share some of the sunflower seeds which led us to the discussion of how many kinds of seeds we actually eat. 

When the children explored freely, they discovered many interesting bugs. Their favorite was a pair that were "stuck together." When one of them declared "they're mating!" Someone else asked what that meant. Fortunately, another child piped up and said "making baby bugs, duh!"  Phew! I'm more comfortable leaving the "bugs and bees" talk to their own parents. :)

We are also in the process of planting our Fall crops. Today we were only able to get to kale. We also plan on putting in rutabagas, turnips, carrots, onions, lettuce, beets, swiss chard, spinach, asian greens, and wheat. Most of which the children will be able to enjoy when they come back at the start of the school year. 

planting kale
I can't believe there is only one more week left to the summer session! I hope it has been as enjoyable for the children as it has been for us. It has been quite the learning experience for us as well, every week we are revising and planning for next year! We would love to be able to open it up to more students. With more adult volunteers we may be able to.

a rogue teddy bear sunflower.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ending Week 2 with a Mess!

Today we thought we'd end the week by getting messy! One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was to play in the mud. These days, kids don't get nearly enough opportunities to get messy so I thought I'd give them a chance to experience some of that joy. We made seed balls using a "recipe" I found from a Pinterest link We modified it a little and didn't follow the exact measurements but I think the results will be the same.

We thought the air dry red clay might mix a little better if it was in smaller pieces so each child got to use a metal grater to grate their block of clay.

They sifted dirt from the compost to remove sticks, stones, and any unwanted critters

Using a measuring cup we measured out one cup of sifted soil, we ended up using three.

Dirt was added to the clay.

about a cup of water was added

sprinkled in a couple of packets of wildflower seeds

Then we let the fun begin! The children spend about a half hour playing in the mud rolling it into the seed balls.

In total we used about 2 1/2 pounds of air dry red clay, 6 cups of dirt and two cups of water. The  yield was 83 meatball sized seed balls. This project is a creative way to get children to explore dirt and seeds. Once dry these "balls" can be thrown anywhere the children would like to seed wildflowers grow.  This practice also has a little history which can be further explored here.

The children continue to observe and explore the garden, we did a successive planting of peas, and growth continues to be abundant.

Seeds are the topic for next week.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Making of "Yummy Oswegatchie Garden Couscous Cucumber Cups"

Pretty enough to be in a magazine!
Today the children not only got to harvest veggies from the Garden but thanks to our school's head chef, Dianne Houlihan, they were able to create what the students dubbed "yummy Oswegatchie garden couscous cucumber cups"
The recipe is all by eye and can be adapted to whatever you have in your cupboard. We had carrots and cucumbers ready so we used those.

Couscous part
1 box instant couscous (we used parmesan flavor)
hot water (to box specifications)
small baby carrots (grated)
1 small cucumber (diced) for salad and however many needed to make 3inch "cups"
2 celery ribs (diced)
1 lemon (scraped for zest then squeezed for juice)
scallions (about 3)
fresh herbs (we used dill, basil, thyme)

Dressing part
Dijon mustard (about 2 tbsp.)
honey (about 2 tbsp.)
1/2 c. oil (we used avocado and olive)
salt and pepper to taste
herbs of your choice (we used the same ones from the salad)

The very first thing was to harvest the veggies
pulling carrots

enormous 13 inch cucumber

gigantic Shoyu long

snipping the basil
The children also pulled a couple of scallions from the garden to use as well. Next we gave them a quick bath from the hose. (The veggies, not the children) :)

Before any chopping was done we followed couscous package instructions and added hot water so it could "cook" while the rest of the prep was being done.

measuring the hot water

mixed together waiting for a lid

kept covered while they prepped the veggies.
Every child had a job to do in the preparation of this dish. Some learned how to zest a lemon, use a grater, and use a carver to add decorative stripes to the cucumber "cup".

chopping celery

getting the scallions ready

taking the stems off the baby carrots

tearing the herbs

zesting a lemon

juicing the lemon
starting to look really yummy (it smelled heavenly!)
To make the dressing all they did was mix all of the ingredients together in a jar, sealed it with a lid and shook it like crazy.

we used two jars to do a taste comparison of olive and avocado oils

adding basil

adding thyme
While some children made the dressing the others started making their cucumber cups. I would never have thought of this but Dianne showed us how easy it was. The children were give cucumber chunks about 3" long. They scooped out the seeds making sure to leave the bottom of the cup intact. 

using Dianne's special tool to cut around the seeds. ( a spoon works too)

scooping out the seeds with a spoon

Viola! a cucumber cup
The cups were made, the couscous was made, the veggies were chopped, and the dressing was well mixed. That meant it was time to put it all together.

in goes the dressing

plus the second jar of dressing

Mix it all together
All that was left was to enjoy it. Every single bit of the salad went. The conversation during the meal went something like this: "This is delicious!" "I never had this before, I never made this either. I'm gonna' ask Mommy if we can make some more at home." "The garden made this taste so good."" We are a good team!"
If there is one thing I've learned from being a parent and from doing this garden project it's children are more willing to try new foods (especially healthy ones) if they can either grow it themselves or make it themselves (both is ideal). 

blueberries were the perfect side

the best part of the cucumber cup is no spoon needed.

finger lickin' good!