Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Garden meeting and update with Marquez, Canyon and Pali Elementary Schools

On Monday garden teachers from Marquez, Canyon and Pali Elementary met at Marquez. We also had an email from Carrie, the agriculture teacher at Paul Revere and from Lisa Taylor at Pali Elementary. It's always good to share ideas and support each other.

Attendees: Canyon:Susan Hamilburg- kindergarten teacher; Sean Mickey and Tony Guma, first grade parents. Palisades Elementary: Jill Nichols; Marquez: Marie Steckmest.

Canyon representatives' report:
- Teaching:Volunteer parent, Carmen, teaches Kindergarten classes (how often);  She has recently planted herbs with the kindergarteners. Sean and Tony teach the three 1st grade classes weekly. They started teaching together last year when their kids were in 1st grade. Most of their expenses are self-funded. A recent lesson focused on making pesto. They have just planted zucchini and ?.
- The planting areas include three troughs in kindergarten and 12 raised beds in the rest of the school. They have no dedicated garden area.
- Canyon gets annual grant from Pacific Palisades Garden Club for maintenance of their native plant garden. Susan showed the new identification sign for one plant, California Lilac, that has english and botanical name as well as a qr code that links to the description of the plant.
- Canyon just received a large grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for habitat restoration. They'll be putting in some more native plants that connect to their canyon habitat.
- Canyon received a Whole Foods Foundation grant this year for a garden storage unit.

Palisades Elementary
- Jill Nichols is a parent who is shadowing Tracy Judah and Lisa Taylor, the current garden teachers with an eye to maintain a garden program at Pali when they move on to Revere.
- Teaching and Curriculum: Lisa and Tracy are volunteer parents who have developed a curriculum over a period of several years. Grades K-4 get garden instruction monthly. Each class comes to the garden area with a teacher and one or two parents for a lesson. Lessons are tied to the curriculum-often science as Pali does not have science enrichment. 5th grade has garden club.
- Recent lessons include flower pressing in second grade, making strawberry popcorn in third grade, spinach pesto in kindergarten. They have also made bread from wheat that they grew.
- Pali has composting.
- How they get classroom volunteers: They request two garden parents per class at Back To School Night. In addition, Discovery Garden is a class volunteer position they try to get filled in every class at the beginning of the year. Lisa and Tracy have a morning meeting at the beginning of the year with garden parents. Responsibility of volunteers can include the following: watering, weeding, garden club, special garden sales. The Discovery Garden volunteer is separate from the parents who help during class garden time.
- Recent grants include: $2,000 Whole Foods grant in support of their K-4 Curriculum and 5th grade Garden Club to allow them to continue to expand on the science and social studies curriculum.

- Marquez has six raised vegetable beds in the enclosed lower garden as well as a "butterfly garden" with some native plants and herbs. These beds are on a drip watering system. There are also seven raised beds on the upper yard that are hand-watered.
- Teaching and Curriculum: Marie, a UCCE master gardener volunteer, teaches grades 2-5 classes that wish gardening approximately once a month. There are four classes per grade level at Marquez.  Two fourth grade classes do not have gardening.  Some assistance is provided by community volunteers and garden parents from some, but not all, classes.  Recent lessons have included: second grade-harvesting arugula and making arugula salad, planting marigold seeds that the kids saved last fall; third grade-learning about California native plants used by the Chumash (smelling and touching), fifth grade unit on Jeffersonian garden with heirloom seeds from Monticello and of course, composting. Children usually get to eat during their lesson-sometimes herbs or strawberry guava or sometimes they cook, eg. arugula salad.
Open garden time: at least once a week the garden is open during recess. Typically 15-20 children will help in the garden between all of the different recess times.
- Recent grants: Pacific Palisades Garden Club grant for a Native American plant garden that will include sages, monkey flowers, etc.; donation from a former parent, Scott Gibson of Gibson International Realty; grant for seeds from Agroecology.
- Pr for garden program: A blogpost (www.marquezschoolediblegarden.blogspot.com) is written after each garden lesson. This is sent to the teacher, the room parents for that class, the parent volunteer, the principal, and the booster club. In addition, the booster club communications parent includes a weekly write-up about the garden and a link to the blog in the school e-newsletter. There is a link on the school website to both the edible garden and the edible garden teacher (listed under enrichment). Periodically food from the garden, e.g. strawberry guavas is available at the end of the day when parents pick up the kids.
Other: one garden workday and also a fall gardening workshop for parents have been held. A spring garden workshop and another workday are planned.

Common issues among the schools
- Need for additional volunteers to teach, not just to assist but assistance is great to have;
- Additional funding. Suggestions include local nurseries, Malibu Compost, Agroecology gives $50 grants for seeds to school and community gardens, Kellogg and also Googling "school garden grants'.
- Increasing awareness among the parents and community
- Pest control, e.g. squirrels and birds
- Curriculum and other school garden resources: lifelab, edWeb.net, Edibleschoolyard, USDA Farm to School E-letter, University of California Extension Master Gardeners of LA County: http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/UC_Master_Gardener_Program/School_Gardens/

Other items
- Students from both Marquez and Palisades Elementary will make food from their gardens and serve to teachers at their respective schools during Teacher Appreciation Week. If extra food is needed, Gelson's will donate some produce. They are participating as part of Palisades Cares' Farm to Table Palisades, a program in April and March in the Palisades.

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