All posts tagged: Upper-El

Worldly Plants: Luffas and Rice

This fall Upper Elementary students have been working hard in their permaculture garden. So hard, in fact, that they are in the midst of perhaps the greatest discovery they’ve made all year: how to process the luffas and Carolina Gold rice that they planted in the spring of 2015. Students planted the luffa gourds with Aubrey in early June by mounding up 3 small hills at the end of beds along the black chain-linked fence. Why here, you might ask? Because these plants produce a beautiful trellising vine that will grow straight up a brick wall all summer long. Our luffas loved that small corner we carved out for them and only at the end of December were they ready to harvest. Although most of the plantings we have in the garden are edible (and luffas are), there are some that are not! When harvested early, the luffa fruits are eaten often in many South East Asian countries. When left for months to grow large, the fruits become, arguably, nature’s best scouring brushes and sponges! …

Strawberry Smiles

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 …

January 2015

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 …

Okra and Pine Cone Ornaments

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.

Thanksgiving and Mindfulness

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.

Beets!

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.  

Fresh Grape Juice

We have decided that there is nothing more heavenly than fresh pressed juice. This year, like most, we harvested bucketfuls of grapes from our scuppernong/ muscadine vines. These native grapes are prolific and uniquely delicious. Students worked hard to use the fruit press to squeeze all of the flavor out of their grapes!