At Ground Education, we love it when students slow down and observe nature at work. At first glance, this common milkweed at Herrera Elementary seemed to be quietly blooming. But when we looked closer, there were Monarch larva (i.e., caterpillars) of all sizes munching happily on nearly every leaf. There were bees busily pollinating, and aphids cleverly camouflaged as yellow buds on the stems. And there were droves of ladybugs enjoying the feast! We also spotted large milkweed bugs, which dine on the spongy seedpods, but apparently have been known to eat dead caterpillars if given the opportunity. The students were fascinated by this ecosystem at work and had lots of big ideas and questions about what they saw. It was a bountiful, emergent day in the learning garden.
The Boys and Girls Club members are making it happen! Every week we move closer to creating a productive urban farm where kids will enjoy seasonal meals, practice citizen science, and take pride in the tasty results of their sweat equity. Last week we tested the soil for contaminates, a critical step in the process. Kids scrubbed tools and sample jars, used a huge hand auger, and cleared away weeds to expose some really hard, dry soil. And the news was good - the soil is safe for planting! The next step is to add a 6" layer of compost as a base for our row crops. Hopefully by Spring, we'll be enjoying our first harvest.
At IVA charter middle school, we've been exploring the natural world and our deep connection to (and dependence on) plants through poetry, field trips, and tastings. Together, we've been inspired to create a local habitat at the school, with plants native to coastal Southern California. This week we planted nearly 180 specimens - California Buckwheat, Hummingbird Sage, Coyote Bush, Toyon, Coffeeberry, Sisyrinchium and others - in a 3,000sf garden. This native learning garden will be a place for reflection, exploration, observation, and fun. Thank you to the California Native Plant Society for your generous contribution to the project.
We love celebrating seasonal food, and in Southern California it's pomegranate time. These magical ruby gems, which originated in Ancient Persia, and have long been celebrated in mythology, folk tales, and art. These days we understand them as an antioxidant powerhouse and a shirt-staining indulgence. We had a great week celebrating and tasting this fruit in 3rd grade classrooms all over Long Beach!