Usually the distance our food travels to our table is measures in miles…many, many miles. Today, 120 fourth graders had a true farm-to-table experience. The students harvested the rainbow of leafy greens they planted in October, and walked 50 feet across the playground to create their own personal salad. Fresh picked lettuce is crisp, juicy and delicious. Most students appreciated the sweet, crunchy romaine and the slightly spicy Russian kale, but the peppery arugula received some mixed reviews. We enjoyed our salads in the garden, with real cloth napkins and plenty of fun conversation. Thanks for a great meal kids!
Pomegranates were one of the first known cultivated fruits and have long inspired artists and writers with their sweet taste, ruby red coloring, and delicate juicy arils. They have considerable heart-health benefits, and were once painted on the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs to symbolize life after death. Pomegranates were the fruit Hades used to tempt Persephone in the ancient Greek myth, and a symbol of strength in the ancient Persian culture. Pomegranates are in season in Southern California and so it seems fitting to celebrate their enduring appeal.
For transitional kindergarteners, the main appeal of the pomegranate is its unique structure and taste. So we got our hands red – very red – dissecting our own pomegranates and enjoying their crunchy sweetness. We also made pomegranate art and our own pomegranate spritzers. For many students it was their first taste of the exotic fruit and a tasty way to learn about seeds and plant parts.
“What we do to the soil we do to ourselves.” – Wendell Berry
Did you know that one teaspoon of healthy soil contains a billion living organisms? That’s right, the topsoil is more crowded than a freeway at rush hour. Most inhabitants are bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes we cannot see. But they are all there working symbiotically with plant roots to create our garden’s fertility and ultimately the nutritional content of our food. That’s why studying the chemical and biological health of the soil is so important. Last week we introduced more than 100 second graders to the science of soil. We began in small groups discussing who or what touches soil (earthworms, plants, seeds, water, farmers, groundhogs, frogs, etc.) and what each stakeholder’s needs might be. Then we collected soil samples from our raised beds and used test kits to determine the pH and the current levels of Potassium and Nitrogen. Where we found deficiencies, we mixed up targeted organic materials and worked them into the soil to prepare for our next planting. It was a fun day of scientific analysis and a great reminder that soil is so much more than meets the eye.