Field reports from

El Sereno Middle School

The garden at El Sereno Middle School is a large, terraced garden with three levels and a dry creek to collect rainwater.

Locked in a Seed

  From collecting all seeds our garden has yielded this summer, to packing and labeling them, to seeing what giant specimens the smallest of seeds can become, to recognizing their shapes, sizes and function, we moved on to more metaphoric seeds, of thought and action. This we did by listening to the Seed song by…

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October Pumpkin Studies

Where is it from? How did it get here?   How did ours grow so large ? Is it the Soil? Is it the Seed? Is it the Weather? What now? What do we do with such a large pumpkin? Pressing questions weve been tackling all month long.

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Understanding place and history – El Sereno Middle School

Our year at El Sereno middle school has begun spending September familiarizing ourselves with place (the garden) and people (all of us who use it) and the connections between all things living, plants, animals and ourselves. Each class has walked through making sensory and written observations of the entire space, sharing their insights in class….

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April’s bounty

Lots goes down week after week, particularly in our special needs classes. Sometimes everyone can be highly productive and other times no ones in the mood for anything! But what tells me that im getting through and that its both relevant and important, is when I meet some of these children in other areas of…

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Signs for the orchard

Our fruit orchard is getting a face lift with signs being drawn by 8th graders as part of their community service project. Since both Mandarin and Spanish are taught in school and many children speak both the languages, we added them to the signs along with the common and Latin names. The last part of…

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Landforming for Water Harvest at El Sereno

This bare spot of the Arroyo at El Sereno Middle School was ripe for a water harvesting project, so the classes worked today to put in a berm. Constructed of logs, brush, wood chips and soil, it works something like a natural dam to absorb the water running off the pavement. It will put this…

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Vernal Equinox/No-rooz

March brings with it the first day of spring. The vernal equinox. A time for rebirth, and a fresh start, not just in our gardens but in our lives. We got to learn the physical and symbolic importance of the moment when night and day are equal and the sun shines directly on the equator….

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The Fungal Kingdom

In preparation for our Fungi lesson with Professor Naveen Hyder of Cal Poly Pomona the students finish up their Fungi Kingdom Poster. Theyve covered alot of ground on knowing the parts of this essential componant of a healthy ecosystem. Professor Naveen shows them different types of fungus/mushrooms (fruiting part of the mycelium) and is surprised…

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Prepping fruit trees and pathways for Spring.

With so much winter rain we expect copious amounts of weeds to come to life, so all February, between rain breaks we’ve worked feverishly to sheet mulch our pathways, and build healthy weed free pathways. While I’ve been slowly pruning each fruit tree since late January, for a robust harvest and aesthetic functional shape, the…

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Cauliflower is King

  Its been our signature winter vegetable. Cauliflower! Planted in the fall with starts from Sylmar High school’s farm, in beds that were mulched and well fed during the winter, each head grew to be bigger, juicer and more beautiful and tasty than the next. We’ve shared it with staff, and Enrichla admin and volunteers…

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The Los Angeles Rural Center at El Sereno Middle School. Part Farm..studio…arts and crafts space and lab

  This Rural Center will build off of the pre-existing garden and Ranger Program at El Sereno Middle School through a unique partnership with the school. El Sereno has set aside a bungalow that will permanently house the EnrichLAbs, an all new woodworking studio, and teaching studio.  We will with the district convert to farm…

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Triple the productivity at El Sereno Middle School – New Rural Center!

On Saturday, we had an extremely productive day at El Sereno Middle School! We had the help of 3 different volunteer groups, including students from Marlborough School and Do Good Bus. They helped expand our current garden and paint the new Rural Center. The Rural Center will become an environmental education hub run by EnrichLA….

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Recognizing Fungi

January brought us much needed rain and the emergence of a wet habitat that we havent seen in a long while. Between being sporadically thrust indoors and some days of bright sunshine, each class has been discovering the workings of a wet habitat. The emergence of mushrooms being the most obvious. They have been looking…

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Decorating for the holidays!

The fun that comes from pruning back in the winter is making wreathes with garden clippings. We used apricot and olive twigs and branches to make the frames, and then everyone went to town with mostly lavender and pine cones to decorate. Many students took their creations home to share with family. Some left them…

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December to do’s at El Sereno middle school

As rapidly as Fall continued to color the trees, our year end tasks in the garden, also took on a speed of their own! We pulled weeds from as many beds and pathways and covered them with thick layers of mulch. Our mountains of crab grass, became a perfect nitrogen fix in our compost pile….

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Tastes of Fall

While the younger farmers continued to plant for winter, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, and lettuce, each in their square foot garden, another group prepped a salad made to feed everyone, of garden harvested pumpkin, acorn squash, broccoli, chives, mint, lavender flowers, arugula and a dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. To this mixture…

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Natives in the ground – and now for more rain!

Our first natives this season, have gone in the ground! We’ve planted white and black sage and a native rose. Last years yucca and toyon berry are both growing well, as is a small native cherry that slowly but surely hangs on!  

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Fall at Last!

Fall has shown its face at last in our orchard of plum, apple, apricot, pomegranate, fig, pear and olive trees. and with that follows lessons in pruning for next years fruit and growth. But with our erratic weather that will have to wait till Jan when all the leaves have shed and no chances of…

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Decorating for the Holidays!

Our dry collection of fennel and corn varieties serve as the back drop to seed packets made by all the students from this years crop of heirloom varieties of carrots, corn, wheat and barley. All strung up in the garden, for a few weeks display before the kids each take a packet home to add…

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Garden exploration

Today we explored the garden at El Sereno Middle. We observed everything from big to small. This picture shows terraces and swales that allow us to both garden on a slope and save water. Here are some baby ladybugs. How many can you find? Rue, a bitter and beneficial herb!

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Square foot gardening

Measuring, and dividing space, assessing companion and seasonal vegetables, and reading seed packets accurately made up our unit on square foot gardening. Were not there yet but very close. Most children have managed to plant x # of rows in each square foot assigned per child but connecting the dots between plant spacing is taking…

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More November News

The Compost pile excites my special needs students like no other! We visit it every other week, adding, chopping and turning. coffee grounds and cafeteria waste are particularly fun for their smell and textures. But what really excites everyone is pulling the grubs out of the rich moist compost heap! Whats been instructive is having…

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November challenges!

Weve had a few cloudy days, some over 90F and a smattering of rain. Nothing is as Nov should or has been! We’ve planted seedlings and then had them toast before they could go too far. Yet many have survived the erratic weather. All along were learning about ‘resilience’ and ‘rolling with the punches’! Here’s…

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Observing Fall

The only pomegranate that survived impatient hands, birds, squirrels and who knows who else, made it to the tasting table today! We ate the juicy brilliant red seeds, and drew this wondrous fall fruit. The brilliant sun on a post rain garden, elicited a walk around it all, observing fall. What moves, whats grown, where…

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Math, Science and Collaborative effort. Planting for winter!

After three weeks of place and soil study, today was all about collaborative planting work. Mr Muro’s sixth graders started out by understanding cardinal directions viz a viz their garden, measuring the gardens area and perimeter, deciding which group was planting where, then testing that garden space for soil composition, and converting silt, sand and…

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Building compost, and planting for winter

Our eager composters dig dig dig for soil friends and foes as they add cafeteria waste. Every moving compost creature is trapped in a jar to look at closely and draw a close enough look alike in their journals. Salvaged lunch carrots and a weeks worth of food waste also goes in the compost pile….

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soil and square foot gardening

Getting soil classified from areas where each group will be planting. and sharing soil readings with everyone. deciding what winter vegetables will go in one square foot for each child in the class!   while some do the square foot calculations on paper another group preps a chalk board to divide into 27 squares another…

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Eating, drawing, compost and beds

Last week we drew pictures of the greens we ate, and threw the waste into the compost pile! Everyones getting the hang of composting.   The self watering south facing Hugel has a solitary pumpkin vine growing across the mound. Cant wait to harvest its only pumpkin soon. Not too far out purple asparagus grows…

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browns, greens, water, air, heat and FBI

After delving further into various types of seeds, seed pods and seat coats, we went on to exploring what makes healthy growth and the significance of compost to soil.   They kids all helped break down both nitrogenous and some carbon materiel into smaller pieces to make life easier for the FBI that will do…

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salvaged banana salad

Our morning started with collecting cafeteria waste for the compost pile. We salvaged all the edible portions of ripe bananas and amid talk of trash, dumps, methane gas, compost and food waste, we created a yummy Banana Salvage Salad! slice slightly ripe bananas add mint, parsley, curly kale, fuji apples from the garden, meager asparagus…

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meanwhile outside

As Fall approaches, albeit ever so slowly, we harvest and taste whats left on the fruit trees. Meanwhile our two diligent Cal State LA interns continue to prepare planting beds with a fresh layer of soil and mulch, making sure not to bury the perennial herbs, the growing artichokes and odd squash or two where…

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mapping place and saving seeds

Weve been spending our days refining our mapping skills and collecting seeds. The children are learning how much there is to record on one simple map of their garden and how many sizes and shapes there are in seeds. Not to mention the variety of ways in which to harvest them. Its a big mess…

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First observations – mapping spaces/saving seeds

Back to school with new batches of middle school children, began with getting a sense of place – what is where, and why. Walking and mapping the garden have been our first exercises in becoming familiar with the gardens function and systems. We have also begun to talk about seeds and gather them as we…

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Our almost antique and beloved  John deere 318 equipped with a custom Bufford loader is in service at el sereno middle for loading compost. Beautiful onan engine in it that sounds like a Harley.  

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Back to School!

Summers bounty or at least what the critters left for us, awaits the children and their curious minds. We have black corn to taste, a tree full of olives to cure, both are a first in our garden, plus a ton of seeds to save!

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El Sereno Middle School yields seeds for future blooms

Our interns are more than happy to collect new seeds for future blooming seasons. At El Sereno Middle School’s lush garden, we were able to collect seeds of plenty. We have fennel, parsley, artichoke and buckweat! We were able to cut back some overgrown pathways and add more to our compost pile. We can’t wait…

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Summer Sun at El Sereno Middle School

The garden at El Sereno Middle School is mature and beautiful! With that comes plenty of perennial maintenance to keep things in check. We pulled out a bed of mint which had gone crazy and a ton of fennel that we will save for seed (both to grow more fennel, and to eat as a…

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Herb Explosion at El Sereno

The garden at El Sereno Middle school couldn’t have more herbs. Mint, basil, lavender, oregano, and mint, mint, mint – none of them used this summer to relax and chill out. The garden looks lovely here. It’s huge, with spots to sit, relax, and enjoy some peace and quiet. Plenty of pollinators and butterflies milled…

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El Sereno Middle School

           

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Garden Signs for All!

We ran every scrap piece of redwood that we had through a table saw to create 1000 garden signs for our 100 school gardens!

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The new Wheelchair friendly garden at El Sereno

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Breaking Bread

We grew Spelt, Sonora wheat and Buckwheat for our winter cover crops. Reaping our harvest and tasting the fruits of our labor. Buckwheat spelt and Sonora wheat bread, butter and buckwheat honey!  

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Harvesting Artichokes, Sonora Wheat and Buckwheat

The artichokes have dazzled the birds the bees the palate and anyone who sees the giant flowers now ready for seed. Our winter cover crops have been harvested, using the chop and drop method to recover the new beds with hay from Sonora wheat

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April at El Sereno Middle school

From planting native black corn on earth day, to harvesting yellow and purple potatoes and sharing a spring harvest with teachers and students   and enjoying the slow but sure growth of our native cherry, and toyon berry bush, with ca poppies everywhere Hurray to spring!  

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The El Sereno Middle School Garden is wild

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