Submitted by SGN Board Member Laurel Anderson
1. Garden Explorations are a wonderful way to have students get re-acquainted with the garden after the summer. They allow students to explore with a bit of “direction” and loads of excitement. While searching the garden student’s sense of observation is tuned in and often they discover many unintended wonders that the garden provides.
These directed explorations are also a useful tool for breaking large groups of students into smaller groups in order to facilitate meaningful learning opportunities in the garden.
These activities are also a great way to encourage process skills such as observing, describing, organizing, inferring, predicting and evaluating. Schoolyard Enhanced Learning by Herbert Broda has lots of great ideas for using the outdoors for student exploration. Shades of Green is an activity that has been successful with both students and teachers. Place a long strip of masking tape sticky side up on a clipboard. collect 15- 20 different leaves with shades of green. Arrange as desired. Other students can guess at the pattern.
Paint chip color samples can be strung with yarn, hung around students neck and used as a matching exercise. It’s amazing how many different shades of green you can find in the garden
Drawing on over thirty years of work with young people in gardens, Life Lab, a nonprofit organization, has emerged as a national leader in the garden-based learning movement. – They have created a number of scavenger hunts in a Word format so that they can be modified if needed.
Also from Lifelab is an engaging exploration that involves comparing and contrasting in the garden-Six of One-Garden Explorations
2. Celebrate the Gravenstein Apple!
The Gravenstein was first planted in Sonoma County in 1811 by Russian trappers. It is the first apple to ripen often as early as late July!
Gravenstein apples make the best apple sauce. If you happen to have electricity in your garden you can easily make applesauce in the garden using an electric wok. UAn essential tool for this is the ” peeler, corer ,slicer “which children love to operate and which quickly processes the apples. The students will happily eat the apple skins that peel off or don’t use the peeling device. Just add some water and cinnamon and in 30 minutes you can enjoy warm applesauce.
You can also dry apple slices with a dehydrator. Dip in water with a little lemon juice to prevent browning.
More on Gravenstein Apples from SlowFOOD USA
by Marjorie Priceman An apple pie is easy to make…if the market is open. But if the market is closed, the world becomes your grocery store. This deliciously silly recipe for apple pie takes readers around the globe to gather ingredients. First hop a steamboat to Italy for the finest semolina wheat.
Late summer when the garden is in full bloom is a great time to learn about pollinators and basic plant botany especially the reproductive parts of flowers.We all know about the European Honey bee but were you aware that there were over 1,000 species of bees native to California? These bees are solitary nesters using holes in the soil, hollow twigs or old wood. Because they are not defending a hive they are not aggressive and very safe to have in a school garden. The UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab has lots of great information and photos of native bee species.
Native flies are also important pollinators. A favorite is the the clever mimic the Hover Fly. It sure looks like a bee!
It is easy to grow a Pollinator Garden. If you have space, create a pollinator border or hedgerow so that you can incorporate larger shrubs around your vegetable beds. Plant mostly natives species to attract native pollinators and make sure to plan for year round bloom. Manzanita and rosemary are wonderful sources of nectar and pollen for winter months. Plant in large swaths which make it easier for pollinators to hone in on nectar. Leave some bare ground for ground nesting bumblebees. Add some old logs or make a bee house for the gentle Orchard Mason bee out of a bundle of hollow twigs. Las Pilitas Nursery has a lot of great photos and information on native pollinators and plant selections on their website.
Below are some links to pollinator curriculum and design tips for creating a pollinator garden: