Field Reports

from

Bryson Elementary School

The garden at Bryson Avenue Elementary School was built in Fall 2012 with the help of DirecTV and Do Good Bus. It features raised beds, including a “strip garden” utilizing a 2′ strip of land towards the rear of the school.

Bryson Elementary: Self-seeders

Bryson Elementary: Self-seeders

Today at Bryson Elementary, we learned all about seeds. We read A Seed is Sleepy, a review of which you can find here, and learned about the seed cycle. When it was time to go to the garden, students spotted self-seeding annuals like sunflowers, nasturtiums, zucchini and cilantro.  

Bryson Elementary: Ready, Set, Bolt!

Bryson Elementary: Ready, Set, Bolt!

“Getting your hands dirty is fun!” the first graders above squealed. There’s negative correlation between age and the willingness to get your hands dirty.  Transition into Kindergarteners (TK) and first graders? No problems with dirt and worms. Third and forth graders? “I don’t want to get dirty! I need gloves.” But as students learn in…

Bryson Elementary: the five senses in the garden

Bryson Elementary: the five senses in the garden

As we kicked off a new rotation of classes, students at Bryson Elementary got their first taste of flowers–literally. They ate nasturtiums, which taste sharp and peppery. In contrast, their petals are soft, like a “pillow or a bed,” as one student remarked. The students also observed bok choy flowering, heard birds chirping and smelled…

Bryson Elementary: Art in the garden

Bryson Elementary: Art in the garden

Students at Bryson elementary finished up their six week rotation with posters that demonstrated what they learned in gardening class. Popular themes included soil, insects and sunflowers. The first graders had just finished James and the Giant Peach and some were inspired to put in peach trees and characters like Grasshopper and Ladybug.   Meanwhile, outside…

Bryson Elementary: The Habitat Garden

Bryson Elementary: The Habitat Garden

The garden is not a sterile environment, somewhere we impose our will; it is a habitat. It teems with insects, birds flying about and micro-organisms busy breaking down organic matter in the soil. Even fifth graders are not immune to squealing when they see a roly poly or an insect they have never seen before–see…

Bryson Elementary: Winter tomatoes?

Bryson Elementary: Winter tomatoes?

Strawberries and tomatoes that can be planted in the cold season seem almost to be a myth too good to be true–especially to those not from southern California. After all, don’t we usually pick tomatoes off of vines in July and August? But at Bryson Elementary, we have planted a tomato variety called “Sub Arctic…

Bryson Elementary: Seeds in Action

Bryson Elementary: Seeds in Action

It’s only February here in Southern California, but it’s already starting to feel like Spring–we’re immune to whether the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not. The days are getting longer and warmer and plants are flourishing. Annuals that sow themselves like nasturtiums and sunflowers are popping up too, which is a wonderful opportunity…

Bryson Elementary: Scat in the garden

Bryson Elementary: Scat in the garden

Bat guano, chicken manure, worm castings–these are all words that just mean “poop,” I tell the children. In an organic garden where we don’t use chemical fertilizers, poop from many animals–bats, chickens, worms–is necessary to add nutrients to the soil. The first time one of the fifth grade classes saw the worm bin, I asked…

Bryson Elementary: Propagating Plants with Stems and Leaves

Bryson Elementary: Propagating Plants with Stems and Leaves

Plants sprout from seeds, right? Well, yes, but as the Bryson Bulldogs learned, there are other ways to propagate plants–through stem and even leaf cuttings. In our school’s garden, there are plenty of other plants that propagate easily via stem. Our oregano and nasturtiums are growing and spreading with each rain–which, exceeded nine inches in…

Bryson Elementary: Book Review of a Seed is Sleepy

Bryson Elementary: Book Review of a Seed is Sleepy

While not as lyrical as my all time favorite children’s gardening book Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt, A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston is definitely worth reading to children of all ages. Beautifully illustrated in watercolors by Sylvia Long, the book goes through the cycle of seeds. Along the way there are interesting facts…

Bryson Elementary: Winter Greens Thrive

Bryson Elementary: Winter Greens Thrive

Like I always tell the students at Bryson Elementary, we are very lucky to have such a long growing season in Southern California. The lacinato, or dino, kale is a great example. With the winter rains finally here, the plant has flourished in our garden, along with other dark, leafy greens. Here’s to the New…

Bryson Elementary: The wonder of seeds

Bryson Elementary: The wonder of seeds

Leo Buscaglia, noted educator at the University of Southern California’s Department of Special Education said the following: “The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.” There…

Bryson Elementary: Student transplant seedlings

Bryson Elementary: Student transplant seedlings

(Photo: “I am in charge of all seeds” by poppet with a camera is licensed under CC by 2.0) For many gardeners, planting is the most exciting part of gardening. Students are no different–except for those who go crazy for worms. For those students, worms come in first place every single time. But for those…

Bryson Elementary: School of Soil, Part II

Bryson Elementary: School of Soil, Part II

“What is the most important thing in a garden?” “SOIL!” Week after week, my students get the same question. To drive home the point, students experience soil in as many ways as possible. Besides smelling soil, which I wrote about in my last post, students dig in the soil with both trowels and their bare…

Bryson Elementary: School of Soil, Part I

Bryson Elementary: School of Soil, Part I

(Photo: “Radish Sprouts and Radishes” by Jess is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0) Jim Folsom, the director of the Huntington Library and Garden, likes to say that his institution is the “temple of soil.” I like to think of Bryson as the “School of Soil.” At the beginning of each class, I ask, “What is…

A Celebration of Gardens at Bryson Elementary

A Celebration of Gardens at Bryson Elementary

On the last day of their six week rotation of gardening classes, students got into groups to make posters demonstrating what they learned. Their posters ranged from the plant cycle to the long-horned beetle attacking the California Oak. The students also presented their posters to their classmates and fielded questions from the audience. “Do you…

Bryson Elementary: Students Start Seeds

Bryson Elementary: Students Start Seeds

Students use a variety of inorganic and organic containers to plant bean seeds. Germinating fast and reliably, beans are nitrogen-fixing and improve the soil. With words like, “organic,” “inorganic” and “decompose,” the lesson is an opportunity to go over prefixes and connect to literacy.    

Bryson Elementary’s Garden Detectives & The Case of the Powdery Mildew

Bryson Elementary’s Garden Detectives & The Case of the Powdery Mildew

Gardens are places of high drama. In one year, students observe plants germinating from seeds, growing, flowering, and dying. Aside from being awe inspiring places that yield fruit and vegetables, gardens are also places where plants get sick and are preyed upon by pests. While diseases and pests plague the average gardener, they present opportunities…

Bryson Elementary: Students spy things big and small

Bryson Elementary: Students spy things big and small

Students need little help when it comes to finding interesting things in the garden–especially when it comes to insects: “It’s a wasp!” “A Bee!” “A Ladybug!” As an EnrichLA Garden Ranger, I think a large part of my role is to guide their observations and pique their interest. I know I’ve succeeded when they have…

Beautiful Flowers

Beautiful Flowers

At Bryson, we fixed an irrigation issue, we harvested, we pruned, and we admired all of the beautiful flowers Lead Ranger Hope and interns planted. We are looking froward to the beautiful pumpkins coming in!

Revamping Irrigation and Planting @ Foster

Revamping Irrigation and Planting @ Foster

Today we had two teams from Next Step Ministries helping out at two sites in Compton: Foster Elementary and Bryson Elementary. At Foster, we accomplished improving the irrigation, amending the beds, weeding the footpaths, planting new seedlings and mulching the pathways. Likewise, at Bryson, we installed new irrigation dripline and planted new seedlings. What a…

Bryson has a new composter!

Bryson has a new composter!

In the heat of the day, Intern Cindy and I worked together to build a new compost tumbler, post an EnrichLA banner in the garden and in front of the school and plant some new seeds. Bryson’s garden is looking better and better each week!

Last Day at Bryson

Last Day at Bryson

This week at Bryson students made a salad that most of them loved. In previous classes, students have asked for the recipe for the salad, so here it is: dressing: juice of 1 lemon olive oil (2-3 tbs) sea salt to taste additions: strawberries or grapes (3-5, diced very small) harvest anything from the garden.…

Seed bombs at Bryson

Seed bombs at Bryson

This week Bryson students participated in a number of fun and functional activities in the garden , including seed bomb making. Students had fun using some of our left over seeds including beets, sunflowers, radishes and marigolds. Students also helped add compost to the garden as well. Its wonderful to see how the Bryson compost…

Soil & Compost at Bryson

Soil & Compost at Bryson

This week Bryson students learned about the different elements of soil. They did their own soil test at various parts of the garden, finding that they have mostly loamy soil in their garden. After finding the sandiest box, students were interested to know that watermelons grow best in sandy soil and are excited to plant…

Garden food chain and new intern at Bryson

Garden food chain and new intern at Bryson

Bryson elementary had their lesson on the garden food chain, just in time for their standardized testing. This lesson served as a great review for the students who will be tested on related subjects. Students also helped with composting and are making plans to grow summer squash. Students also welcomed a new intern from Csula,…

Busy hands at Bryson

Busy hands at Bryson

Bryson students worked together beautifully this week planting, composting, and seed saving. Students planted marigolds and tomatoes, added more cardboard from the recycling bin into the compost tumbler, and picked seeds from a dried up borage plant for saving. Students also made small bouquets of flowers from the garden that included nasturtium, calendula, and sunflowers.

Friends, foes, & borage at Bryson

Friends, foes, & borage at Bryson

Bryson students had their lesson on friends and goes in the garden this week. They played a game of friends and foes tag to further illustrate the relationship that plants and bugs have with each other in the garden. Students also learned about the Borage herb and it’s function as a great companion plant in…

Soil & Composting at Bryson

Soil & Composting at Bryson

Bryson students learned the basic components of soil that include sand, silt, and clay. Students had a chance to collect samples of soil from their own garden to see what they are working with. Students then learned the basics of composting and checked out their own tumbler to see what they might need to add…

Utilizing resources at Bryson

Utilizing resources at Bryson

A new rotation of students began garden classes this week at Bryson elementary. Students explored the existing plants in the garden, harvesting chard and cauliflower to create a simple, tasty salad with lemon, olive oil dressing. Students then added left overs and cardboard bowls to the compost, working together as a team to give the…

Friends and Foes discovery at Bryson

Friends and Foes discovery at Bryson

Bryson students learned about the benefits of friends and foes in the garden this week by exploring the garden with magnifying glasses and small containers. Students helped plant more snap peas all over the garden and watered all plants by hand. Students picked nasturtium flowers, and drank nectar just like the hummingbirds. Students will continue spring…

Planting at Bryson

Planting at Bryson

The Bryson garden has come a long way since the start of the school year when this garden was covered in Bermuda grass. It’s great to see how Bryson students have come together to help make their school garden productive, flourishing, and beautiful. This week we planted beets, peas, and more marigolds. We are also…

Harvest picnic at Bryson

Harvest picnic at Bryson

Bryson students completed a six week rotation and celebrated by harvesting vegetables from their garden today. Studens created a wonderful colorful salad full of fresh ingredients such as kale, chard, cauliflower, nasturtium flowers, mint, and lettuce. Students worked together wonderfully and shared with other students and teachers at recess and lunch time. It’s great to…

Butterfly garden prep at Bryson

Butterfly garden prep at Bryson

Students at Bryson learned about the importance of butterflies as pollinators this week. They paid tribute to butterflies by creating butterfly paper decorations out of recycled magazines. Students also planted an assortment of flowers to attract butterflies such as marigolds and wild flowers. Students look forward to watching these flowers grow and bloom, awaiting the…

Protecting the Garden at Bryson

Protecting the Garden at Bryson

Students learned about companion planting this week at Bryson Elementary. Students worked together to plant garlic and nasturtium, two beneficial protectors of many plants in our gardens. Students worked together to identify existing plants in the garden and whether or not they get along. Students planted potatoes with cabbage and radishes. Lunch helpers are essential…

Our beautiful Compton gardens

Our beautiful Compton gardens

While traveling south, I was able to visit 5 of our beautiful Compton gardens- Foster ES, Whaley MS, Dominguez HS, Sullivan Pre-K, and Bryson ES. Our rangers and students are doing a wonderful job maintaining these spaces. I loved visiting Sullivan Pre-K, which is maintained by Garden Ranger Hope and Garden Volunteer Extraordinaire Dee, and…

Kale feast at Bryson

Kale feast at Bryson

Bryson students are glad to be back in the garden after their three week break. This week students learned about Friends and Foes in the garden and were pleasantly grossed out by the root maggots that still linger here. Students also helped harvest the abundant kale and rainbow chard growing. Many had not tried kale…

Heavy Harvesting at Bryson

Heavy Harvesting at Bryson

This week a new group of Bryson students began their first visit in the garden where they learned the basic rules. Since we are coming up on a big three-week break, students helped harvest some of the abundance such as kale, rainbow chard, lettuce, and mint. Bryson students also learned about composting and helped put…

Recycled newspaper pots at Bryson

Recycled newspaper pots at Bryson

This week was the last week for the kindergarten students at Bryson. Their last session included a craft activity where students learned that you can use many different household items to create your own planting pots such as newspaper, egg shells, or even plastic containers. Students started seedlings for lettuce and spinach plants to take…

Bryson Kinder students visits kale at home

Bryson Kinder students visits kale at home

This week at Bryson elementary, the kindergarten students came to visit the large garden where the kale lives. Students were able to see, taste, and smell kale, a vegetable that they had not been introduced to before. We approached this endeavor like we were introducing the children to a new friend whose house we were…

Water knowledge at Bryson

Water knowledge at Bryson

This week Bryson kindergarteners learned how important water is to growing and maintaining life forms. Bryson students were able to witness the effects of their watering as they saw how the cauliflower and cabbage they planted last week are growing nicely. Students were also able to witness a romaine lettuce crop slowly re-grow itself just…

Planting at Bryson

Planting at Bryson

This week the kinder garden at Bryson received some new plants. The children got their hands dirty as they helped with all stages of the planting process. The students planted cauliflower, cabbage and lavender. Students had their first smell of lavender and were given pieces to take home with them to share with their family.…

Little hands in the garden at Bryson

Little hands in the garden at Bryson

The youngest students at Bryson elementary are receiving their gardening lessons for the next month. This week, Bryson students learned what seeds are and how we make things in the garden grow. They learned that plants are alive and have needs just like we humans do. Students assisted with giving the garden a “haircut,” and…