Posts by Jeff Mailes

ALCMC – Spring Showcase Prep

Hello Garden Friends, Not much to write about this week. We spent all the class period working on our group presentations.. I fear we are still not ready – only time will tell. Getting humans to work together is never easy. Getting humans that have special needs, speak different languages, and come and go throughout the…

Read More

Eagle Rock – Shelter

Hello Garden Friends, Yesterday at Eagle Rock we continued talking about all the things plants give us besides food. Last week we talked about water, this week we talked about shelter – and sustainable forestry 😉 The lesson started out with the presentation of a luffa, a variety of squash often used to make a body…

Read More

Calvert – Fossil footprints

Hello Garden Friends, This week we had a special class for several reasons – Last day with the second graders, introduction of new intern ranger Jessica, special cooking lesson, ANNNDDD our wonderful garden parent Paul Cassell surprised us with new shelves and a white board in the tool shed! Thanks Paul! With the whiteboard we…

Read More

TAS – Edible Fossils

Hello Garden Friends, Last Thursday at TAS we made our own fossils! It was a perfect lesson to reinforce what some of the students had learned at their trip to the La Brea tar pits. The fossils were basically handmade corn tortillas with leaves pressed into them. 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water,…

Read More

Rio Vista – Tortilla fossils

Hello Garden Friends, Today at Rio Vista we made edible fossils out of corn flour. This gluten free geology lesson started out with a chat about how we are all brothers and sisters – all coming from a common ancestor. Some have green eyes, some have black hair, some are born with six toes! The…

Read More

ALCMC – Herb Bouquets

Hello Garden Friends, Yesterday at Miguel Contreras we spent most of the class time preparing ourselves for the May 24th Spring showcase – talking about all of the things we did over the past year and which activities our participants would enjoy the most. Not to give too much away but we decided we would…

Read More

Eagle Rock – Signage and Seeding

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Eagle Rock we did some much needed signage updates. Most of the displays were dated to our winter gardens – indicating that our beds were brassicas or lettuce…ooops! Anyways, now that the garden has been filled with new tomato and jalapeno seedlings and succession seeded with squash, corn, and beans..…

Read More

Calvert – Harvesting Garlic

Hello Garden Friends, Last Friday at Calvert we said a sweet farewell to our fourth grade students. As a final farewell, we planted tomatoes, harvested garlic, and played a nice game of compost relay. Aerating our bins and getting the kids to move around is huge! They have so much energy and being able to…

Read More

TAS – Corn Sprouts and Water Spouts

Hello Garden Friends, Today at The Accelerated School I thought I would spend some time explaining where our water comes from in the garden since last week I talked about soil. Where water comes from is debate-able considering it exists in a cycle. However, I chose to start with rain and snow in the mountains. Because…

Read More

Rio Vista – Earwigs, and Pillbugs, and Larvae.. oh my!

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Rio Vista we played with bugs. I had a bunch of younger students and I really wanted them to conquer their fears of dirt and creepy crawly things. So, we had total immersion. There was no escaping the sweet smell of compost or the tingle of a pillbug on…

Read More

ALCMC – Cleanup for Dinner

Hello Garden Friends, This week at ALCMC I had lots of extra students that Mr. Herrmann sent my way. At the end of the year it seems that everyone needs to hurry up and complete their hours. Anyhow, I introduced the 15-20 new students to my class by doing a chat about systems and the human…

Read More

Calvert – Transplantation and Compost Relay

Hello Garden Friends, Last week at Calvert was the last week I will get to teach the third graders this year. These students were the first students that got to use the greenhouse, and I have been hung up on the fact that they never got to plant any seedlings. How can this be?! Well,…

Read More

TAS – Candy Stripe Beets

Hello Garden Friends, Presentation, presentation, presentation… I tell ya, nothing gets kids to try new foods quicker than a fancy display. Or ranch dressing.. it seems like kids will try any vegetable if it has ranch on it 🙂 ANYWAYS… before I had the students harvest some beets, last week at The Accelerated School, we talked about…

Read More

Rio Vista – Compost Discovery

Hello Garden Friends, Last week at Rio Vista we finally got to harvest our hard earned compost! Panning for black gold we did, except instead of 19th century gold panning equipment we used our hands to sift out the stones, sticks, and bugs. Our goal was to fertilize the corn, bean, and squash beds (otherwise…

Read More

ALCMC – Goodbye Papaya :(

Hello Garden Friends, Today was a sad day, we had to pull down our papaya tree because it had died. The autopsy report showed a severe case of rotten roots. Papayas do not need very much water and unfortunately the district’s maintenance people had reset the sprinklers (turning them on) so that the quad’s newly…

Read More

Eagle Rock – Garlic harvest

Hello Garden Friends, Last week at Eagle Rock, while making room for our summer plantings, we pulled out the garlic that we has planted as cloves from the grocery store last fall! The horticulture students and I had planted it near the brassica plants to hopefully stave off flying insect pests that don’t like the…

Read More

Calvert – 5th grade Garden Graduation

Hello Garden Friends, This week we said goodbye to the 5th grade classes with a last tour of the garden and put together all of the things we learned earlier with a talk about systems. A system is a bunch of individual parts that work together to serve a function. An organic garden is also…

Read More

TAS – Seed Potatoes

Hello Garden Friends, This week we pulled out some potatoes to see how the plant stores its energy in its tubers. Don’t worry – we left several in the ground to get bigger. This was part of our 6-plant parts lesson. To augment the lesson we walked over to our bolting lettuce plants where we…

Read More

Rio Vista – Weeds to Compost

Hello Garden Friends, Last week at Rio Vista we fed two birds with one scone, weeded the garden and fed our compost. With Spring comes the growth of all kinds of unwanted plants. So, I thought the kids could help me do some of the work 🙂 Above you can see the students watering the…

Read More

Eagle Rock – 3 sisters and irrigation renovation

Hello Garden Friends, Today at Eagle Rock started out with a visit from Ms. Manrique’s design tech students. After quickly reviewing our previous lesson about landscape design ethics, and the ways we change our environment to suit our food, air, water, and shelter requirements, we focused in on food. So, How can we manage the plants…

Read More

ALCMC – Spring rolls!

Hello Garden Friends. Last Tuesday at ALMC we made spring rolls! Served with a homemade peanut sauce the snacks were a huge hit! I brought my camping stove and steamed the beets for the maximum yummy factor. I always love balancing some of the garden work with cooking lessons. I mean, why grow food if…

Read More

Eagle Rock – Garden Design Intro

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Eagle Rock we had a new group of design tech and nutrition students visit the horticultural center. So I thought – garden design! Sustainable agricultural is achievable only through smart design and a systems thinking mentality. What is a system? A bunch of individual pieces working together to achieve a…

Read More

Calvert – Light Misting

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Calvert we had a few of the kinder classes cancel due to a light misting. I was a little disappointed, but I reminded myself that wet students don’t learn well. Since moving back to California from Oregon, I notice myself being extra critical of my fellow California Natives. If…

Read More

TAS – Carrot Harvest!

Hello Garden Friends, This Thursday we had a rockin’ carrot harvest! Every student that walked into the garden got to pull their own carrot out of the soil! It is so gratifying to have such abundance. Because of the amount of students that cycle through the garden it can be hard to keep up with the…

Read More

Rio Vista – Plant Parts

Hello Garden Friends, This week we had the opportunity to see all different kinds of plant parts. carrots gave us roots, kholrabi gave us stems, lettuce gave us leaves, brocolli gave us flowers, lemon tree gave us fruits, and our wheat gave us seeds! Spring gives us such an amazing opportunity to showcase life at its…

Read More

ALCMC – Spring Cleaning

Hello Garden Friends, This week at ALCMC we did a little spring cleaning – pulling out weeds/ old kale, deadheading flowers and making room for our squash and tomato plants. The lesson for today had to do with pruning. For example, by cutting off the dead flowers, the plant focuses its energy away from seed production…

Read More

Calvert – Strawberries at Recess!

Hello Garden Friends, While the kindergarteners were out on a field trip this week, I got to visit with lots of children who came to play in the garden with me at recess and lunch. The highlight for us all was a food meditation around one of the most sacred fruits in a school garden.…

Read More

TAS – Lasagna Compost

Hello Garden Friends, First Sunflower Bloom! Spring has just arrived but some days it feels like summer is here! Last Thursday at The Accelerated School I worked with some students who were actually volunteering on their spring break! What dedication! We got lots done including flipping the compost into the next stall and built back up…

Read More

Rio Vista – Three Sisters

Hello Garden Friends, Last Wednesday, Before weeding, composting, and planting our three sisters garden I told the kids a story. See if you can figure out what the days lesson was about! Once upon a time there was a king who was in charge of a magical kingdom that grew food for the entire world.…

Read More

ALCMC – Harvest Time

Hello Garden Friends, This week at ALMC we spent the first half of class answering questions as a team for our grant progess report. One of the questions asked the students to share a thought about their experiences in the garden. Here are two that warmed my heart: “Hard works pays off” – Juan (age…

Read More

Calvert – Seedlings with Kindergarten

Hello Garden Friends, Last week at Calvert the kindergarteners and I started tomato, corn, and pumpkin seeds. I thought this activity would be perfect considering they will be gone on spring break and a field trip for the next two weeks. The next time they come visit the garden they will be greeted by their…

Read More

TAS – Tomato Transplants

Hello Garden Friends, This week at TAS the first graders planted some tomatoes. They already had some good practice because of our experience with the potatoes they planted earlier. Like the potatoes we planted them deep – pulling off the leaves and burying the nodes underground. This encourages the new transplants to focus on root production…

Read More

Rio Vista – Bug Hunt

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Rio Vista we continued to watch and observe the lady bugs transformations from egg, through the larval and pupal stages, to adulthood. Normally, I have a strict rule about touching insects in the garden. Can you imagine how the bugs feel – having 50+ strangers pick you up each…

Read More

Calvert – Seeds to Trees

Hello Garden Friends, Last week at Calvert we saved seeds from some tangerines and peeled off the seed coats to prepare them from planting. In nature, the seed naturally loses its coat when the weather is good to grow – though it can take a year! By removing it manually, and wrapping the seed in…

Read More

TAS – Calendula with Kindergarten

Hello Garden Friends, Last week with the Kindergarten students we pulled apart calendula flowers looking for some seeds to sprout. We checked the different stage of flower development and made sure that each seed was dry before plucking it away from the bees. The high school classes joined us in the afternoon and we continued…

Read More

ALCMC- Cooking demo and Succulents

Hello Garden Friends! Today, Farmer Jeff decided to do a cooking demo with the purple potatoes that the kids planted in the Fall! We harvested kale, onions, rosemary, and broccoli for our stir fry. Not only did we do a cooking demo today, we were also able to plant succulents that I had brought as…

Read More

Eagle Rock- Cooking Demo

Hi Garden Friends! Today at Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High, Farmer Jeff decided to teach the students how to make vegetables more palatable. We demonstrated two different ways to make kale palatable: cooking and massaging. We separated the kids into groups of 3: skinning and mincing the onions, harvesting kale, and harvesting lettuce. As Farmer Jeff was sauteing the onions…

Read More

Rio Vista – Bug Season

Hello garden friends, Last Wednesday at Rio Vista we took a moment to stop and smell the flowers, watch the ladybugs, eat some citrus and play a game. What game you ask? Ladybug, aphid, plant freeze tag of course! Before the game I make sure that the students see all the different life cycle stages…

Read More

ALCMC – Spring Planting

Hello Garden Friends! Spring is in the air! I can tell because my allergies are acting up :p This week at ALCMC we finished hooking up the drip irrigation and planted a bunch of warm season crops. Heirloom tomatoes? Yup! Zucchinis, Cucumbers? We got em! Cilantro? Oh yeah, don’t you worry… I bought starts to…

Read More

Calvert – Seeding with the Kindergarteners

Hello Garden Friends, Last Friday we planted bean seeds with the kindergarteners. I taught them how to plant seeds and they taught me how to be a better teacher. When I arrived on campus with my guitar I planned to teach the students about the importance of soil by singing “Dirt Made My Lunch” and…

Read More

TAS – Behind Enemy (water) Lines

Hello Garden Friends, This week the high school students with Ms. Yousef’s Environmental Science class were battling bermuda grass in the trenches. The fierce war was waged over a new water pipeline which would feed the eastern side of the garden. We secured the outer perimeter with some soaker hoses which will feed a new crop of pole…

Read More

Rio Vista – Baby bugs and trees

Hello Garden Friends! This Wednesday was the wonderful Read-Across-America event. The garden was alive with the sounds of birds, bees, and grown ups passing on a love of literacy through storytelling. After story time was over, I sang the students a song about farmers markets, saving seeds, and the joys of sharing good food with a…

Read More

ALCMC – Herb Spiral Renovation

Hello Garden Friends, Last Tuesday at ALCMC the leadership development class broke ground on a new project. The herb spiral outside the ALC office! This area looks like at one point someone put some serious love into this space. Now, we restore. Starting with water, we ran polytubing around the spiral and learned to augment the…

Read More

Eagle Rock – Soil Chemistry and Heirloom Tomatoes

Hello Garden Friends, Last Monday at Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High we thinned out carrots, took some soil samples, and started heirloom tomato seeds with the horticulture class. While the hugging carrots in the featured image made the featured image – I am most excited by the work we did this week with the chemistry class.…

Read More

Calvert – Kholrabi!

Hello Garden Friends, Last Friday at Calvert we harvested our first kohlrabi! It took a while to process the stem and get to the sweet middle but it was definitely worth it. We started the lesson by introducing the kindergarten class to the garden rules. There are three: Respect all life: The plants and animals…

Read More