Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Gardening and Eating in Ms. Farrell's Class

Mrs. Farrell's 3rd grade class has been growing seedlings under a Grow Light in their classroom since October. The Grow Light was purchased using funds from last year's Whole Kids Foundation grant. This week the children planted the seedlings in their upper garden bed.  They planted carrots, beets, radishes, and two kinds of kale (one is called dinosaur kale!). While one half of the class planted, the other group practiced their writing skills by composing 1-2 paragraph summaries describing the 2 month process.  After the hard work was done, the children enjoyed eating colorful carrots, radishes, and delicious male chips, made by Molly Sigworth. Thanks to Laurie Vander Veen for coordinating!

Ms. Connor's Class and Ms. Yoshida's Class Eat a Rainbow

On December 12,  2nd graders in Ms. Connor's class and Ms. Yoshida's class learned about eating a rainbow.  It's important to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables because we get vitamins and nutrients from them.  They help prevent disease.  We started by drawing a rainbow on the white board and labeling the colors. The students then helped fill in the fruits and vegetables that went with the colors. Along the way I gave occasional hints such as, we eat the root of this plant, it's red and it's not a carrot. The children generated most names for the green section.

The children wrote in their garden journals while I made a smoothie that used foods from most of the colors. The journal page was titled Eating a Rainbow. They wrote the names of some of the fruits and veggies in the rainbow.  Some also copied the smoothie recipe, which was adapted from the Whole Kids Foundation.

Here is some more information in case you want to make your own smoothies at home: It's fun to pick fruits and veggies and see how they go together!

The smoothie recipe that we used:

1 c. spinach
1 c. vanilla yogurt
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. apple juice
1/2 c. raspberries
1/2 c. blueberries
1 persimmon
1 banana

Ms. Palo's Students Plant in the Native American Garden

On December 9 Ms. Palo's 4th graders learned about some native plants and planted in the Native American Garden.  They planted California poppy seeds and narrow leaf milkweed. We discussed how the Tongva and Chumash used acorns, deer grass and California poppies. Acorns were ground and made into a paste, deer grass was woven into baskets and the roots of poppies were used to relieve toothaches.  The California poppy is our state flower. Narrow leaf milkweed is a California native plant and monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the plant.

The students also learned that there are common names and botanical names for plants. For example, the coast live oak is the common name and the botanical name is Quercus agrifolia. The botanical name is Latin.

We also discussed what mulch is and how it is used.  The mulch in the Native American Garden keeps weeds from growing and also helps conserve moisture so we don't need to water so often.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ms. Conn's Class Saves Seeds

Today Ms. Conn's fifth graders saved seeds from several different plants. Using a screen donated to Marquez from Seed Savers Exchange, they sorted seeds from sunflowers, red buckwheat, milkweed and blanket flower. We discussed how the seeds are dispersed by wind and pollinators. In the case of the red buckwheat and blanket flower they saw several different stages of the flower and seeds. In the case of the milkweed they saw the milky white material that helps transport the seeds.

The students used the seed packets from Seed Savers Exchange to save the seeds. They wrote the common names and scientific names on the packets. They now should know that the scientific name is in Latin!

When all fifth graders have done this lesson, they'll each be able to take home a seed.

After the lesson, the students enjoyed a kale/mango/banana/apple juice smoothie. We discussed that these smoothies do not have preservatives, that they are made from fresh ingredients and less expensive than the ones you can purchase in the store.

Red buckwheat seeds

Sunflower seeds
Milkweed seeds

Ms. Connor's Students Look at their Compost Bags

On November 27 Ms. Connor's students visited the garden for their second composting lesson. They looked at the compost bags that they had made two weeks prior and saw that some items had stayed the same and some had changed. The apple piece was mushy and orange, the egg shell was more transparent, the paper and  cardboard were mushy and soft. The screw and piece of plastic were unchanged. They did see a very tiny white worm.

We read part of the book Composting, that talked about decomposers. They learned that this worm was one. We'll check out the bag in two more weeks to see what's changed.

The students wrote about the changes in their garden journal.

After the lesson the students made salads with lettuce, carrots, corn, and peas. They love salad!  They put leftover clean veggie scraps in the compost bin and looked at the worms. They left their forks for me to wash. At Marquez we reuse our disposable utensils!

Ms. Yoshida's Students Look at Their Compost Bags

On November 27, Ms. Yoshida's students looked at the compost bags at they'd made two weeks before and saw some changes. The apple was mushy and orange inside, the grass and leaves were soft, the membrane of the egg shell was more visible, the cardboard was thinner and softer and the paper had disintegrated a bit. The screw and plastic bag piece had not changed. We'll discuss later why the screw and plastic bag aren't decomposing.

We'll check in on the bags in two more weeks to see how much more rot and decomposition we see. This is what happens in a worm bin, but the worms help with the decomposition.

The kids looked at our new worms and enjoyed seeing them move. They put them back in the compost bin with some clean vegetable scraps from our salad. They also watered the bin. The contents of the bin need to be moist like a sponge.

The children enjoyed a salad with lettuce, corn, carrots sugar snap peas and broccoli. They love salad!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ms. Schwartz's 3rd Graders Make Salsa

On November 8, Ms. Schwartz's 3rd graders made salsa with ingredients from Gelson's and the school garden. The chili peppers and onions came from the school garden and the rest of the ingredients were donated.  The children remembered planting most of the ingredients last spring as part of the 2nd grade salsa garden and generated the names of the ingredients.

Since we were using 3 T. of both olive oil and lime juice, we discussed the meaning of 1 T. and 1 t. The children learned that there are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon.

We also discussed that store bought salsa (and other prepared food at the store) has a list of ingredients and not all of them are food. The items are listed by the volume that is contained in the container. In the case of salsa, that's tomatoes.  Our salsa, which is made of fresh ingredients, also has salsa as the main ingredient.  Our salsa is also very colorful due to the differently colored tomatoes, the onions and cilantro.

Thanks to the volunteers who helped: Rayza and Karina from Gelson's, class parents Cynthia Snell, Alexandra Evans and Thomas Cragg, Carolyn Hasselkorn and Laurie Vander Veen. Note that we use reusable utensils in our cooking projects.

The recipe: 8 tomatoes (ideally different colors), 1/2 bunch cilantro, 6 scallions or 1/2 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 3 T. lime juice, 3 T. olive oil, 1/2 jalapeno chili, salt and pepper to taste.  All of the ingredients should be cut into small pieces. Note: we used a small red chili from the school garden. You can also use 1/2 red onion to add more color.

Follow ups to this lesson: write down the ingredients for other items that you make, look at the ingredients in canned food that you eat and note the non food related items for preserving, make another kind of salsa...

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Ms. Yoshida's Class Learns about the Ingredients in Compost

On November 7, Ms. Yoshida's 2nd graders learned about some of the ingredients in compost. Each of the two groups made a compost bag. They will observe which of the contents decomposes and will become compost.

We read the book "Compost Stew" as a prelude to the lesson. Then the students chose items to put in their compost bag from a selection of items on a display table. Thanks to Life Lab for the idea for this lesson! The children put cardboard, toilet paper, a screw, fruit, leaves, a small stick, coffee grounds, damp soil, an eggshell, a small piece of bread and some plastic in a quart size Ziplock bag. Before sealing the bag they blew air into it to keep it from smelling bad.

The students will observe the bags at weekly intervals.

After writing about "Our Compost Bag" in their garden journals and having a snack of persimmon, the students planted seeds, watered and shredded newspaper for our worm bin.

Thanks to Ms. Yoshida and Ms. Ashley for helping today!

Ms. Connor's Students Make a Compost Bag

A Compost Bag
Today Ms. Connor's 2nd graders started their study of composting, planted some seeds and sampled a persimmon.  We add compost to our garden beds prior to any planting cycle to enrich the soil.

We read one of two books to start the lesson: Kids Can Compost or Compost Stew. Both discuss the ingredients that go into making compost.

A display table in the teaching area held cardboard, toilet paper, fruit peelings, egg shells, soil, coffee grounds, leaves and small sticks, newspaper, metal screws and pieces of a plastic cup. The students took turns putting the items in a quart sized ziplock bag and added air before we sealed the bag. They will monitor the bag on a weekly basis and see what changes, i.e. what rots, and what doesn't. Some items such as plastic and screws were added to emphasize that these items don't rot or decompose.

After writing in their garden journals, the children planted lettuce and carrot seeds in their bed, watered and sampled slices of persimmon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What Parts of the Plant Do We Eat? Ms. Yoshida's Class 10/5/16

Today Ms. Yoshida's students reviewed the parts of a plant and then learned what parts of the plant we eat of certain vegetables:

Roots: beets, carrots, radish
Stem: celery, broccoli and beets
Flower: broccoli
Leaves: arugula, kale, lettuce, beet and celery ( in soup and stuffing)
Seeds: tomatoes

They also learned how the stem and leaves of golden beets and red beets reflect the color of the beet. Most of them tasted arugula for the first time.

The children wrote in their journals and drew an illustration of one or more vegetable.

After writing they planted lettuce and sugar snap pea seedlings in the class's Peter Rabbit Garden.

An extra bonus: Today several of the children saw a hummingbird that visited the passion fruit plant!!

Thanks to Ms. Ashley for helping!

Ms. Connor's Class Studies Parts of a Plant

Today Ms. Connor's 2nd graders reviewed the parts of a plant. We then identified several vegetables and discussed which part of the plant we were eating, e.g. root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit or seed.

Roots: Carrots, Beets, Radish
Flowers: Broccoli
Seeds: Corn, Beans
Leaves: Lettuce, Arugula and Kale, Beets
Fruits:  Tomatoes.
Stem or Stalk: Celery, Broccoli, Beets

The children wrote in their journals, e.g. " We eat the roots of carrot, beets and radish" and then drew (illustrated) a picture of a vegetable.

The children then ate a salad with the veggies of their choice with a choice of dressing (lemon juice, olive oil or ranch).

At recess today about 10 of the children returned to help in the garden and signed the "volunteer" list! They weeded, planted lettuce seeds and watered.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ms. Chaides' Students Make Succotash

Today Ms. Chaides' fourth grade students made succotash. This cooking experience is the culmination of the Three Sisters' Garden unit from their third grade year. Many Native American tribes planted a version of the Three Sisters' Garden with squash, corn and beans. Today we used a butternut squash harvested from a Marquez Three Sisters' garden as well as other vegetables donated by Gelson's.

Ms. Chaides' wrote the recipe on the board so the students could copy it onto recipe cards.

The amounts of vegetables and the colors of the peppers can be adjusted to suit your taste or what's on hand. We used yellow and red peppers to make the succotash colorful.

·       3 tablespoons unsalted butter
        3 tablespoons (T.) olive oil
·       2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
·       ½-1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
·       2 medium red bell peppers, seeded, deveined, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
·       3 medium zucchini, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
·       1/2 ten-ounce packags frozen lima beans, rinsed under warm running water or defrosted and drained
·       ½ bag of frozen green beans or similar amount of fresh beans
·       4 ears of corn
·       Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
·       1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Note: we added 1/4 butternut squash cut in small pieces.

1. Cut ingredients in small pieces. Scrape corn off the cobs.
2. Add butter and oil to pan and heat.
3. Add garlic and onion. Cook for 2 minutes
4. Add rest of ingredients and cook for 8-10 minutes until soft.
5. Save the vegetable scraps to compost.

Ms. Farrell's Class Makes Salsa

Today Ms. Farrell's 3rd grader made salsa, sauce in Spanish, as a followup to planting a salsa garden as 2nd graders. We used some of the green onions from the lower garden in the recipe. The tomatoes from the school garden have finished fruiting. The rest of the ingredients were donated by Gelson's, a supporter of our seed to table program.

Thanks to Beverly Jacobs, Joyce Kupp and Laurie Vander Veen for helping.

Salsa Recipe

8 tomatoes (assorted colors if possible) cut in small pieces
1/4 bunch of cilantro, torn in small pieces
2 cloves of garlic
3 green onions
3 T. lime juice
3 T. olive oil
1/4- 1 jalapeno pepper depending on taste

Wash hands. Cut all ingredients in small pieces. Use a garlic press or mince the garlic. Note: Take care to not rub eyes if handling garlic or peppers and to wash hands again after cutting. Serve with tortilla chips.

 We used different colors of heirloom tomatoes to make the salsa look pretty.

This is a recipe that the students can make at home.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ms. Keller's Class Plants Lettuce and Marigold Seeds

Today Ms. Keller's students learned about Thomas Jefferson the gardener. We confirmed that he was the 3rd president, that he liked gardening and that he had a plantation called Monticello in Virginia. This year the students are planting heirloom seeds that have been saved at Monticello. Today they planted Brown Dutch Lettuce and Tennis Ball Lettuce. Some children also saved seeds from the dead marigold plants in the Jeffersonian Garden. They then planted some of the seeds.

Planting basics: add compost to the soil before planting a new crop (this is called amending the soil, or adding to it); when planting tiny seeds like lettuce and marigolds, barely cover the seeds with soil; water seeds daily; keep the red cover on the bed to keep squirrels away!

The children should keep track of how long until the various seeds germinate.

Today's scribes were Golden and Annalise.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ms. Bihari's Class Makes Salsa

Today Ms. Bihari's 3rd grade class made salsa, sauce in Spanish, as a followup to planting a salsa garden as 2nd graders. We used some of the green onions from the lower garden in the recipe.

Thanks to Anna Zander and Laurie Vander Veen for helping.

Salsa Recipe

8 tomatoes (assorted colors if possible) cut in small pieces
1/4 bunch of cilantro, torn in small pieces
2 cloves of garlic
3 green onions
3 T. lime juice
3 T. olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper

Wash hands. Cut all ingredients in small pieces. Note: Take care to not rub eyes if handling garlic or peppers and to wash hands again after cutting. Serve with tortilla chips.

We discussed the importance of having food look attractive. Here we used different colors of heirloom tomatoes.

This is a recipe that the students can help make at home. We used plastic knives.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ms. Palo's 4th Graders Make Succotash

 Today Ms. Palo's 4th graders made succotash, reinforcing their experience of planting a Three Sisters' garden in 3rd grade. The Three Sisters is a method of companion planting of corn, beans and squash used by many Native Americans including the Iroquois and Navajo. In addition to zucchini, we used a butternut squash that was harvested from Ms. Farrell's bed that the students had planted as 3rd graders.  We supplemented the school harvest with organic vegetables from Gelson's. The students did a great job in cutting the ingredients. Thanks to Linda Keston and Michelle Ross for helping!

The harvest from Ms. Farrell's bed

Colorful succotash


·       1/4 cup olive oil
·       3 tablespoons unsalted butter
·       2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
·       ½-1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
·       2 medium red bell peppers, seeded, deveined, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
·       3 medium zucchini, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
·       1 ten-ounce packages frozen lima beans, rinsed under warm running water and drained
·       ½ bag of frozen green beans or similar amount of fresh beans
·       4 ears of corn
·       Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
·       1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1.    In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion; cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add bell peppers, zucchini, lima beans, and corn. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add herbs.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Three Sisters' Garden

Today Ms. Farrell harvested some squash from the Three Sisters' Garden. She'll cook them with her students next week.  Some of last year's 3rd graders planted this garden. They'll eat succotash this fall with some of the squash and other veggies courtesy of Gelson's donations.

Ms. Palo's class is making succotash today using some of this squash.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Thanks to Dirty Girl Organic Landcare!

Thanks to Dirty Girl Organic Landcare we have new raised bed covers in one of the edible garden beds. Hopefully they will keep the pesky squirrels from eating our veggies! Thanks to Troy and Hilary for this donation to our edible garden program. Their employees made the redwood covers off site and then delivered them today. The two covers are light weight and designed to be lifted off during gardening.

The kids will plant in this area next month!

Growing Our Own Seedlings

This year we're attempting to grow many of our own seedings using grow light gardens. Why? It's a learning experience for the kids and much cheaper than purchasing seedlings!

Today Ms. Farrell's third grade class discussed their favorite veggies, discussed which were cool season and warm season veggies and planted many seeds.  We reviewed the concept of bar graphing that we had done together in second grade. They planted seeds of carrots, kale, broccoli and beets. They'll keep a journal to mark the progress and transplant the seedlings when they have three sets of leaves.

The kids also looked at some acorns that Ms. Marie had harvested and we discussed how the Native Americans used them.

In one lesson we covered science, math and social studies-as well as nutrition!

The Marquez pumpkin patches

We now have two pumpkin patches at Marquez. Ms. Farrell's 3rd graders planted pumpkins and squash last spring as part of a Three Sisters Garden and they are doing great! There is a very large butternut squash and several small orange pumpkins.


We also have a pumpkin bed in the lower yard garden. The seeds of the white, red and orange pumpkins were planted this summer by Laurie Vander Veen. The ten seedlings have been transplanted and hopefully will give us pumpkins in time for Halloween!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Back to School Helpers

Friday afternoon after school seven children helped "clean up" the garden. Students from Ms. Fein's class, Ms. Connor's class and Ms. Chaides' class helped wash tables and chairs and harvest arugula seeds.

Their reward was to take home arugula seeds as well as to taste chives, basil or cherry tomatoes.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Welcome to the Marquez Garden Program

Welcome to the Marquez Garden Program

We have a seed to table emphasis. Children that participate in the program plant seeds, cultivate, harvest and eat fresh vegetables, compost, cook and much more. Many of the lessons extend classroom learning in language arts, social studies and science.

Please join us for an Introductory Garden Workshop on Monday, August 22 at 8:30 am. in the garden.

Learn about planting fall vegetables, cooking from the garden and volunteering opportunities in the garden. Garden based refreshments will be served. RSVP to Ms. Marie at
Volunteers can: help during class garden lessons, work with the garden club, water, mulch and amend soil, grow seedlings, apply for grants, cook with the children, paint signs and more.  You don’t need to be a gardener to help.

For further information visit the Marquez Garden Blog:
or email Marie Steckmest, “Ms. Marie”, at

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Celebration in the Garden

We held a Celebration in the Marquez Garden on May 18 to honor donors and to showcase the garden program.  Over twenty-five students from grades 2-5 served as tour guides and chefs and talked about some of their garden projects.

Our honored guests included donor representatives Scott Gibson from Gibson International Realty, Mike Lee from Gelson's, Barbara Marinacci and Jack Sanders from the Pacific Palisades Garden Club and Boy Scout Zach Eastland. Scott Gibson is a former Marquez parent who has made annual gifts to the garden program. Gelson's supplements our seed to table tastings with their organic produce. The PPGC has donated generously to the Native American Garden. Zach Eastland is one of three Boy Scouts who built items in the garden as part of their Eagle Projects. The others were Parker Smith and Piers Carmichael. Other 2015-16 donors who could not attend included Kellogg's Garden Supply, Whole Kids Foundation, Western Growers Association and Jamba Juice. Jeannie Kamm represented School Board President Steve Zimmer.

Students at various stations described their grow light garden projects, composting with worms, Three Sisters's Garden, the Native American Garden, the Peter Rabbit and Salsa Garden and the butterfly garden. Other students prepared and served some of their favorite foods including vegetable salad and broccoli. Both guests and students enjoyed the food!

Thanks to Amanda and Linda Keston and Laurie Vander Veen for helping with the celebration and to Nicola Buck for taking photos.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Herb Tea from the Marquez Garden

Mint and Lemon Verbena Tea

We grow both mint and lemon verbena in the Marquez Garden. Here is a recipe for a refreshing tea that can be served either hot or cold. I adapted this recipe from

1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves  (about 10 leaves)
1/4 cup of fresh lemon verbena leaves, rinsed, lightly packed (about 5-8 leaves)
1 cup of water

Bring a pot of fresh water almost to a boil. Put the leaves in a teapot. Pour the hot water over the leaves. After approximately 3 minutes pour the tea in a glass or cup. Use a strainer if you wish to keep the leaves out of the cup.

Read more:

Friday, May 6, 2016

Thanks to Kellogg's Garden Supply

Kellogg's Garden Supply donated 100 bags of soil to the Marquez School garden this week.  We received Xerimulch, Native Planting Mix, Raised Bed Planting Mix, Worm Gro and Patio Plus Outdoor Potting Mix.

The Xerimulch will be used to mulch the Native American Garden and some of the edible beds. Mulch keeps the soil moist, retards weeds and reduces the need for water. When we apply it we leave a small ring around each plant.

Native Planting Mix is a new product to use with drought tolerant natives, especially when planting in pots.

We add Worm Gro or other compost to all of our vegetable and flower beds before our fall and spring planting. It adds nutrients back into the soil. Remember, healthy soil makes for healthy plants.

I use the Raised Bed Potting Mix when starting new raised beds and reviving old ones.
This is the third year that we have received soil donations from this locally based company.