Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Theme: Other Gardens, Everywhere

Hi Everyone,

If it's safe wherever you are, go outside!

...this could mean sitting on the front steps, opening a window, sitting in the backyard or on the deck, standing on the sidewalk, or going for a walk in your neighborhood, if that's possible. 

*Be sure to follow all of the safety guidelines for your area while you're outside.

But, whatever your access to the outdoors is, do whatever you can to get some fresh air and sun!!!

We have to take very good care of our bodies and minds right now.

Drinking water and getting in nature helps this in a BIG way!
I love this video from Farmer Rivka about making sun tea! 

*If you don't have access to a garden, you can put fruit in your water like apples, berries, oranges, or cucumbers to keep yourself excited about staying hydrated. I like to put ginger in my water, too!

We'll do a virtual tour of other Berkeley Public School gardens today - so you can see what's happening out there, in the big green world...

*If you picked up one of our seed kits or if you have some seeds to plant of your own, you can find even more seed planting information here, from Farmer Marlee!

Everyone, everywhere - get outside if you can and take care! 
Stay hydrated and calm! 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Theme: Bug Board Check

Hello Everyone, Everywhere!

Today we'll check our bug boards:
Things have been above average busy in the garden and packing up our classrooms at school. I know many of us are adapting to new schedules, timelines, and we have tasks that need to be done before the official end of the school year. 

(Tangent) *The toughest thing for me to manage right now is what to do with student work. 

We keep beautiful journals in the school garden! Kids work so thoughtfully and take so much time to journal, write, and draw many garden activities.

Calm, quiet, and careful moments are often captured in student work in the garden, and now, our box of journal pages needs to somehow be handed back to students for summer reflection (or recycling).

*Elsa from Frozen would say, "Let it go," but there's just something so scientific and perfect about student art.

Anyways, the BUG BOARDS!

Upon careful inspection, I noticed my bug board was very dry, even though we had rain last week. I wonder if the creepy crawlies need more moisture to thrive? It reminds me of crunchy granola!

Let's look underneath:
Hmmm, it doesn't look like anyone is home that can be seen with just our eyes. Maybe we need a microscope!

*That RED stuff is actually flower petals from the Bottle Brush tree that grows over where I placed my bug board.

I moved the leaf litter around a little and it was very dry. I didn't find any creepy crawlies, but, I did see some fungus growing on a piece of mulch!

See the white moldy stuff? That's part of fungus called "mycelium" and it's like the roots of the fungus!

*Looking under my bug board led me to another thought - I wonder if my bug board hasn't been there long enough to attract some friends...

I now have to do a science experiment using the scientific method:

Purpose - What if I look under something that has been on the ground for a longer time?

Research - Creepy crawlies like dark, damp places like old logs, rocks, and places that have been on the ground for a long time.  

Hypothesis - I think more critters will be under an object that has been on the ground for a longer amount of time.

Procedure/Experiment - Go look under something more established!

Data/Analysis - I decided to look under some tiles that I use as a pathway and sure enough:
...there is a small millipede friend living under this tile! 

Conclusion - I'd have to run a few more tests, but, I bet the longer you leave your bug board, the more time will pass and more creepy crawlies will come visit!

Great job today scientists and remember, even if no one is living underneath your bug board YET, the important thing is to stay curious, check on it, and continue to ask questions!

Alright Artists, Students, Scientists, and Creepy Crawly Allies EVERYWHERE - have a calm weekend! ...and get outside if you can!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Theme: Malcolm X and the School Garden

Berkeley Public Schools are on holiday today to honor the life, contributions, and legacy of Malcolm X. 

We have an elementary school named after him and their garden is HUGE and wonderful - one of the oldest in the district. The garden teacher has been teaching garden education there for over 20 years! 

Here is her spring video:

You'll notice that Farmer Rivka makes a "weedo," which is a term they've coined for when students walk around the garden and make a "burrito" out of whatever they can find. 

They use favorite plants like kale, nasturtium (hot cheetos), broccoli flowers, herbs, and other tasty edibles like miner's lettuce (full of vitamin C!) to make a healthy, filling meal or recess time snack.

Providing access to healthy, filling meals at school is part of the legacy of Malcom X - who became an activist to fight against the injustices affecting his community.

He influenced the Black Panther Party, who started numerous community programs, including providing free breakfast for school kids. This program still exists today.

We know that malnutrition, inequitable access to healthy food, and the subsequent health issues that arise because of diet, disproportionately affect People of Color and other marginalized groups in our society. 

We can make schools more equitable by making sure that all children have access to healthy food, learn about growing their own food, and share their food knowledge with their communities.

In the city of Berkeley, the school garden program staff are passionate about food, access, and education. 

Check out Longellow Middle School's plant sale to support their community! 

Farmer Jesse says, "With this plant sale, our goals are to support local food security, encourage students and their families to garden at home, inspire curiosity about science and the natural world, and empower everyone in our school community to nourish themselves and their families. The way I see it, this is food justice in action."

Willard Middle School also teaches a class called "Growing Leaders" where students grow, cook, and sell their own food to learn about nutrition, science, and business. 

And of course, the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr Middle School, started by Alice Waters, furthers The Black Panther's work by feeding kids at school.

Growing food and sharing it with our communities is a great way to take a stand against racism, other injustices, and, in the words of Malcom X to build a more equitable society. 

"Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality." -Malcom X

Friday, May 15, 2020

Theme: Get a little Buggy!

Well, we made it to another Friday, Friends! And in the Bay Area, we had some rain, which is ALWAYS a good thing. More in the forecast! 

(My gratitude for the day is done - what are you grateful for today?)

Now that the sun's out, let's get outside and look for some bugs!

I just looked out of my window and saw a fly go past, so, if you are inside, you can still look for bugs. 

*Let's stretch, get to a window, or step outside if it is safe!

...Maybe this isn't comforting, but those bugs, they are EVERYWHERE!!! 

So if you're an inside entomologist, maybe get close to the ground, or check around the compost bin, or look up in a corner to see if some bug friends are hiding out.

(Draw or photo journal what you find!)

Activity: Make a Bug Board
1. Use a rock, log, piece of wood, or cardboard box to make a "safe zone" for some bugs (or creepy crawlies) 
2. Place this item on the ground in a safe place (put a weight on top of it if you're using a cardboard box so it doesn't blow away)
3. Wait a few days! 
4. Predict - who might be living under your Bug Board?
5. Look underneath to see who's there!

I wonder if the placement of the Bug Board matters? 

I put my Bug Board under a tree, near the compost bin. 

What happens if you put yours in the middle of a sunny place?

We'll check our Bug Boards on Monday to see if anyone has moved in! 

In the meantime, you might want to join "The Outside Every Day Challenge" from the folks at Thorne Nature Experience! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Theme: "The People's Insect"

I am super into podcasts right now and my favorite is called "Sidedoor," from the Smithsonian Institute.

This week's was all about Monarch butterflies and since we've been focusing on adaptations, pollination, and the "essential workers" who help our garden, I thought it would be good to do an introduction to bugs.

Butterflies are definitely essential to our garden.  And again, if you eat, then you are depending on insects like butterflies and bees to make your food, too.

You can listen to the podcast here: The People's Insect

Okay, side note on Sidedoor over! 

...What's an insect?
Be careful not to confuse our insect friends with our spider friends!
The critter on the left, the green one, is an insect. 
It has 6 legs, antennae, 3 body parts, and wings.
The critter on the right is a black widow spider. 

*Spiders have 8 legs, no antennae, 2 body parts, and no wings.

*Sure, I wouldn't want a black widow in my house, but I accept that they are important parts of the ecosystem and they can live safely outside! 

*I respect the partnership we share with our invertebrate brothers and sisters. 

*Actually, I have a house spider living in the corner of my apartment! We have a mutual arrangement...you eat the bugs and stay up there, it's all good.

Insects are amazing and whether or not they are cute, scary, colorful, or a boring old ant, they all deserve to live:

What insects have you seen lately?

Someone who studies insects is called an Entomologist.

...on Friday we'll do some insect activities that you can do with anyone, anywhere!

Theme: Other Gardens, Everywhere

Hi Everyone, If it's safe wherever you are, go outside! ...this could mean sitting on the front steps, opening a window, sitting in...