Question: “What do you do in the winter?” (Folks never fail to ask me this when they learn we practice year-round Permaculture gardening at Greensboro Montessori)
Answer: “We follow nature’s lead. There’s plenty to study in the winter. So much that it changes every year.”
Garden classes at Greensboro Montessori are hosted outside when it is 40 degrees and above. Those classes are movement-based and even if there’s not as much garden work to be done, we play games that keep us up! But when the weather is just dismal, we host lessons in the Environmental Education classroom (many of these are cooking lessons!)
Here’s an update on what we have been up to in the past few months:
- Isabelle and Gail’s class studied the continent of Africa. Many of the plants we grow in the garden originated from what historians call the West African Savanna-Forest Complex., including Cotton, Okra, and Black-Eyed Peas (Carney 2011). This winter we explored a cotton plant grown in the GMS gardens last year and saved seeds from the bolls. What was left? The fiber. We watched Eliza demonstrate how to card the fiber to make a punis, a small tuft of fiber we can give to a spinner to make cotton thread. This is an on
- For the past 3 years at least, bird studies with Primary and Lower Elementary students in the winter. This year, the lessons included learning song bird calls (Northern Cardinal, American Robin, and Mourning Dove are always their favorites!), making bird seed ornaments for the long holiday break, a migration game, birds and their beaks, making binoculars from recycled toilet paper rolls, and going for bird walks all over campus. Lower Elementary students have particularly enjoyed recording the birds they have seen on their walks in their journals!
- Right before winter break, Lower Elementary students were busy wrapping up their garden: preserving food and sharing the harvest. They harvested the last of the fall produce to share with Backpack Beginnings. We had two lessons on food preservation this year: dehydrating (persimmons, yum!) and fermentation. We are anxiously awaiting to taste the beet and turnips pickles we made in the coming weeks, but the persimmon chips and fruit leather are long gone.
- Upper Elementary students have enjoyed learning about garden design as they re-vision their garden this fall and winter. They are furiously drawing sketches of what they want their garden to look like when they aren’t doing research on the groundhogs or birds they have been seeing! For those that signed up for the beekeeping elective, there have been many adventures in winterizing our school bee hives. We are anxious to see if they make it through the winter this year!