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Spring? Garden Workday

Whew! Is it really still spring? The weather would make you think otherwise. Probably the hottest Community Garden Workday on record commenced this past Saturday: 94 degrees with humidity. Water play, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and fava bean hummus kept our energy up and temperatures down while we accomplished a number of projects: Fixing the gate to our pond  Fixing the lattice on our shade structure for gathering circle Mulching and weeding to our hearts’ content Planting luffas, gourds, and trumpet vines to shade the gathering circle  Thanks to all who participated. We had a great time with each of you! Advertisements

Carolina Gold Rice: Lessons in History

In spring 2015, Upper Elementary students planted Carolina Gold Rice in their permaculture garden. That fall, they threshed and winnowed the harvest as they discussed its history and origins in West Africa. They used a mortar and pestle like West African women did to hull the rice. Our students read about how these women, like those fed by the rice they prepared, were slaves bound for the Americas. They commented on how difficult it was to hull even a quarter cup (in an hour!) and imagined what months of such labor might feel like. In the year since we first planted and harvested Carolina Gold Rice with Upper Elementary students, I have read and researched more and more about its history. I recently came across a piece written by culinary historian, and grower of African and African-American heirloom crops, Michael Twitty. Twitty, whose work has been internationally recognized for years as a prominent voice in food justice, gives us a true and untold timeline of Carolina Gold (Oryza glaberrima), which dates from 3,500 B.C.E. along the West African Niger and Casamance rivers. …

Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) 2017

Have you ever wanted to learn more about Permaculture? Do you wish you had flourishing gardens with fruit tree’s, herbs, and abundant fresh vegetables growing in your front or backyard like the ones at Montessori? Permaculture (short for permanent agriculture) teaches you to get the most out of space, filling it with useful and edible plants, all to the benefit of the land. Humans reap the rewards on so many levels – juicy fresh blackberries or a warm vine ripe tomato, the cool shade on a warm summer day offered by a plum tree, butterflies and birds attracted to the garden by flowers and food, the gift of hours quietly working in the garden. And then there’s the fact that there’s nothing more satisfying to the soul than cooking with food you’ve grown yourself! If this sounds exciting to you, then you may be interested in taking a Permaculture Design Certification course. Jenny Kimmel, longtime gardening teacher at GMS, and the Land-Lab Coordinator, is offering a 72 hour Certification that will teach you not only the …

Traditional Corn Husk Dolls

We grow corn every summer in the GMS gardens but this is the first year that we have saved the husks, cobs, or silk for any purpose. These charming little dolls were so easy to make and the students seemed genuinely pleased by them. They aren’t as bedecked as the “tree change dolls” or some of the other corn-husk dolls I’ve seen, but nonetheless, the children’s imagination took flight and they were playing with them instantaneously. To make the dolls we soaked the corn husks in hot water for ten minutes and then used yarn to tie a head, waist, and legs! They were a treat for our Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary students. We also enjoyed reviewing all of the words associated with corn (winnowing, kernel, husk, cob, silk, maise, tassel, stalk…..) and learning about how corn pollinates.

“Be Keepers”

Friday morning was truly a riotous affair for several Upper Elementary students. Why? It marked the first session of a new Beekeeping elective 10 students are participating in. After discussing the basics of beekeeping in the fall, students got geared up and had their very first hands-on view of our hives behind the Middle School building. Check out what Upper El mother and photographer extraordinaire, Aris Wells, captured that morning. Thank you Aris! Stay turned for more information and Greensboro Montessori gardening adventures. In the meantime, remember that to “be a keeper” of bees is more fun with friends. Thanks for your continued support. Post comments and questions below!  

Welcome Back!

The gardens are in full summer swing here at the Greensboro Montessori School. Giant Zinnias and Black-Eyed Susan flowers are exploding in Primary, Scuppernong Grapes and Lunchbox Peppers are beginning to flush in Lower Elementary, and Sunflowers grace the Upper Elementary Teepee alongside a bounty of red burgundy okra. What a joy to be greeted with such beauty this week as students return! This year marks a significant change in the Permaculture Gardening program staff. After twelve spectacular years, Jenny Kimmel has decided to teach part-time in the Middle School Land and Microeconomy programs. She will still be an active part of the Greensboro Montessori School in this role, but this means we will all miss her grace and peaceful presence as our leader of both garden classes and the Permaculture program. Jenny’s mentee, Eliza Hudson, has moved into her position as the Lead Environmental Educator and Director of the Permaculture program. She will continue in Jenny’s stead teaching Primary, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary gardening classes and leading the program to ensure the gardens remain grounded in permaculture and Montessori …

Edible (and useful) Spring Weeds

In a permaculture garden there are many plants providing myriad functions. Have you ever wondered how we maintain such abundant gardens without the use of pesticides that seem to flourish in all seasons? One of the ways that we do this is to utilize nature to support itself. For example, many “weeds” or things that people consider to be weeds actually blossom and bring in beneficial insects and pollinators, or mine for minerals deep in the soil, bringing nutrients to the surface.  This is an important concept in permaculture for healthy thriving ecologically diverse gardens, so we brought the lesson to the classroom while working recently. In Lower-Elementary we had A LOT of spring weeds we needed to catch up with. We noticed while weeding that the most prolific of these was Purple Hen Bit (Lamium amplexicaule.) This purple flower is among the earliest bloomers and therefore one of the first food sources for honey bees. We explained that we leave these valuable weeds in the garden until after other nectar and pollen sources begin to …