Several factors have contributed to our harvest of a bumper crop of persimmons this year. One of those is most likely the honey bees on campus have been working hard to pollinate our many crops and they apparently did a thorough job on the persimmons, which are an early bloomer and good source of food for them in spring. We also prevented any “pre-harvesting,” which led to higher yields. We have been busy in gardening classes and with the middle school farm team (part of the MS micro-economy) finding creative ways to eat and preserve the HUNDREDS we harvested this year. Hopefully you’ve already heard about a few of these from your children or purchased some of the jam, chips, or whole persimmons in the front office See some of our creations below! In addition to the persimmon salad, fruit roll ups, pancakes and 5 spice persimmon jam we also made persimmon salad dressing and ate a lot of fresh persimmons. Look for some of these products at Marketplace on December 16th!
We made these celebratory pancakes both this fall and last as the persimmons were ripening. There were loads of them this year, so look for more blogs on the many many things we’ve done with them. This recipe featured cardamom, a spice many primary and lower el students had never encountered before. They were a perfect treat during the cool rainy weather. One of our favorite activities is making whipped cream from scratch and grinding flour from wheat berries so that the students can see where all of the ingredients came from in their whole form! We used ultra ripe persimmons for this recipe, so the pulp folds into the batter just like jam. You can however, also cut up a firm Fuyu persimmon and there will be little chunks of persimmon goodness in your pancakes. Enjoy!
This lesson has been in the making for a number of years! Teaching about pollination and pollinators is essential not only because of its role at the core of food production, but also because of the plight of the bees (and many pollinators in general.) In the Spring as the first flowers were opening, we transformed the children into tiny buzzing pollinators and sent them out into the gardens to search for pollen. Because they had been miniaturized, the pollen became huge! Fuzzy little balls of pollen were inside of all the flowers and their task was to collect it. As they collected, some of the pollen from other flowers (which were different colors) fell off of their bee bodies and the colors got all mixed up! Hmmmmm….. is this how pollination works? We pondered this and other questions in this interactive lesson and discussed how much we depend on bees and their work for our food supply. With the older students we discussed what we could do to help. Planting food sources (nectar and …
Last week was a riotous affair in the GMS Gardening classes! A crop of strawberries presented the best opportunity for eating in some weeks! Every class made the most of a beautiful bounty of lettuce and strawberries with a delicious salad (topped with fresh strawberries and strawberry dressing) and strawberry ice cream. We divided into two groups to create the menu: Aubrey’s group led the salad making, carefully placing fresh berries from our garden on a bed of colorful, crunchy lettuce. My group made the ice cream, filling the ice cream bucket with ice and rock salt and watching intently as the motor turned the cream slowly, but surely, into a deliciously sweet treat. There’s only a few more weeks of strawberry season left, so follow the recipes below to try some at home today! Strawberry Ice Cream Ingredients: 1 pound strawberries 2 cups heavy cream 1 cup whole milk 2/3 cup sugar Directions Place 1 small bowl strawberries in a food processor and puree. Combine cream, milk, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat …
We all know that bunnies (or rabbits as they are often referred to) like carrots and radishes. This is also true of the Easter Bunny. After chatting with him, he’s convinced us that he most prefers wild garden spaces with plenty of food to eat and habitat for his friends – worm, snake, butterfly, bird, etc. This year, he gave us many many Easter Egg Radish seeds and asked if we could spread this important message to the children: “Plant a garden!” “Make a place in your yard where I am welcome. Make it healthy. Fill it with love.” So, after some discussion, Eliza and I decided an Easter Egg hunt was necessary. Inside of each egg were the seeds so generously bestowed upon us by the Easter Bunny. The kids took them home and we hope that some are germinating now, over spring break! We plan to continue this tradition. After all, the Easter Bunny left us with important instructions and we’re recycling the eggs so we can use them year after year.
When I tell parents, teachers, or friends that I’m a garden teacher, they inevitably ask: “So, what do you do in the winter?” My answer? “We pour over seed catalogs, cook with vegetables we stored in the fall, learn bird songs and make corn husk dolls. It’s true—there is less to do in the gardens in the winter, but we slow down and appreciate the larger, seasonal environment where we work and play.” As the temperatures dropped, we’ve moved most of our gardening classes indoors. This summer and fall we were blessed with particularly bountiful crops of sweet potatoes, popcorn, and Blue Hopi corn. Last week’s Primary classes made popcorn together, from the dry-stored crop we harvested in October. In anticipation of this tasty treat, we each transformed into popcorn kernels. Inside each of us was a tiny drop of water. When Jenny placed us in the pot with a little oil and salt, the water inside started to heat up and before we knew it…POP! We were ready to eat! Lower and Upper Elementary …
We had A LOT of okra this year in the garden and unfortunately a good bit of it got too big before we had time to harvest. When okra over-develops it gets hard and sinewy and isn’t good to eat. We let all of this big okra dry out on the stalk and then when it was hard and brown we clipped it off. Some of the okra we’ll use for seeds for next season, but most of it, we used to make Christmas Ornaments.
For our Thanksgiving lesson this year we talked about the bounty of the garden & nature. We filled a basket with seasonal produce – butternut squash, sweet potatoes, dried corn, garlic, and herbs – and discussed how many of the foods we see at Thanksgiving are roots and seeds. They are foods that store well and are often harvested near the end of the growing season. Some things change with time, but the seasons and foods available, no matter how technological we become, are much the same regionally (barring greenhouses and transfer trucks.) Fall is a time of bounty and we are so thankful to be able to share food together that we have grown with the help of rain, sun, microbes, and all manner of other creatures. Students crunched away on some delicious carrots before break and contemplated mindfulness and gratitude while they ate.
I have marveled for years at how much children love kale. For some reason it always surprises me how they flock to it, and this year when we made kale salad and crunchy kale, I was no less amazed. They were literally licking their plates clean and asking for seconds. For a classic crunchy kale we tossed the washed and shredded kale with balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and olive oil, and roasted it in the oven until crispy.
This year we made this amazing beet hummus that the kids went crazy over because of its beautiful red color. Bright Red Beet Hummus: Makes a medium-sized bowl of hummus 1 pound cooked beets 1/4 cup sunflower seeds 2 tablespoons lemon juice ½ tablespoon tahini ½ teaspoon ground cumin 1 garlic clove 1 tablespoon olive oil ½ teaspoon salt Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Taste throughout and adjust the balance as you see fit. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered.