Field reports from

Foster Elementary School

This garden was built in Spring 2014 in partnership with the Kitchen Community. It has one, large, horseshoe shaped raised bed.

Finally Some Rain! at Foster

Rain!! Finally, finally, Los Angeles has entered, even if briefly, the rainy season. What a relief! With just a little bit of precipitation, the landscape changes quickly from brown to saturated greens. The flowers on the sides of the road begin to bloom. And the air is so fresh! Water really gives life to our…

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Monarch Cycle at Foster

For the last few weeks, my students have been learning about different examples of cycles — the water cycle, the lifecycle of a plant and composting. To continue this pattern, we talked today about the lifecycle of a metamorphic creature: the monarch butterfly. This butterfly has been visiting Los Angeles since the end of October,…

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Butterfly happenings at Foster

It’s that time of year. The monarchs are, by far, my favorite part of the garden right now. They have been so kind to allow us to observe their lifecycle. From a speck of an egg to a little hungry caterpillar to an emerald chrysalis to a soaring butterfly, the monarchs visiting these last couple…

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Good Bugs, Bad Bugs, Balance at Foster

Hanging out with the bugs always gets my student excited. Before I could even announce that today’s lesson was all about Creepy Critters, I could see the students wriggling with joy! We began with a discussion about two categories of creatures we would find in the garden. For the sake of simplicity, we titled them…

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5 Senses in the Garden at Foster

Last week, I taught my students at Foster about using descriptive words. We played a game where we had to describe the appearance, taste and texture of a fruit or a vegetable to a classmate without saying its name. To continue this lesson today, I led the students on a self-guided tour of their garden,…

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Why in Pollination Important? at Foster

Today we talked about word that isn’t used on a daily basis: POLLINATION. This word is so important to know because without this process happening there would be no food in the world. I explained the process of pollination; how pollen is transferred from the stamen of the flower to the anther of the flower. Bees,…

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Energy Transfer in Nature at Foster

The main question of the day that we examined was: if the sun gives everything energy and without it nothing would live, how in the world do humans get energy from the sun? This evoked a conversation of energy transfer to humans. First, the sun gives energy to plants which then produces food for consumers….

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Winter Planting at Foster

Foster’s garden is flourishing with life, even with the signs of winter around the corner. The sunflowers are blooming so happily and the kids and I just added the first of winter veggies to the garden — kale, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower! We can’t wait to eat them in a couple months!

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Fascinating Fibonacci at Foster

Dude, who knew math could be so fun? If I had learned about Fibonacci as a kid I might have enjoyed and excelled more in this dreaded subject. Good thing I became a teacher so I can find the fun and bring it to my students! (I make that my aim anyway.) So Fibonacci –…

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Hard Working Worms at Foster

Worms are busy creatures; they’re constantly working to decompose decaying organic matter. A worm decomposes things by eating it and digesting it into castings (the nerdy term for worm poop) that then incorporates into the soil. The type of decaying matter that worms like the most are soft fruits such as melons, apples, cucumbers and…

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We’re Buggy at Foster

At Foster we are learning about what kinds of bugs live in the garden. Last week we looked for good and bad bugs and their relationship with the plants; if they were protecting the plants or harming the plants. The garden was crawling with lots of different critters like ladybugs, spiders, wasps, bees, and we…

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Garden Snacks and Exploring at Foster Elementary!

My students at Foster Elementary love to explore their garden! They can hardly sit still during garden class and burst with excitement when I set them free from their seats! So this week, I started class differently than usual. Instead of having teaching time, I instructed the students to take clipboards, a paper and a…

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Foster Elementary

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Writing recipes at Foster

In preparation of summer time, my students and I made a refreshing drink today. I taught them how to make lemon-mint infused water and how to write the recipe to take home with them. We discussed how this drink doesn’t have any sugar but the natural sugar from the lemon and the refreshing flavor from…

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Fibonacci at Foster

Did you know swirls are all around you? Swirls, or spirals, are not just a shape but a pattern. And this pattern can be explained by the Fibonacci sequence, a series of numbers that, when drawn, create a spiral every time. During our class today, I introduced the Kinder through 3rd graders to the SPIRAL. We…

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Colors in the Garden at Ramona

Off the bat, one might think that a garden is simply colored green. But if you take a closer look, you’ll notice many more hues. With the kindergartners today, I challenged them to find three different colors in the garden. We found to entire spectrum of the rainbow (borage not pictured)! Then we smelled pineapple…

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Mulching, New Chalkboard and Planting at Foster

What a joy to have folks from WME come out and help beautiful Foster’s garden! We built a chalkboard, spread mulch on the pathways, planted summer seedlings, made signage and harvested herbs. We couldn’t exist without our volunteers!

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Snails Under Observation at Foster!

I subbed for Hope at Foster Elementary this Wednesday and I thought I would bring in something fun, interesting and a bit slimy, that the kids could observe…snails! Although snails are not a gardener’s friend, I discovered they are still very interesting creatures. I read the kids some facts about snails before we brought them…

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Spring Garden Salad at Foster

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Spring has sprung and many of the veggies we planted in the wintertime are now ready to harvest. The kids at Foster were very excited when I announced we were going to make a salad together. Using greens and herbs solely from the garden, we tore everything…

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Getting to Work at Foster

Every week for the last two months, Foster Elementary students have been helping me spread wood chips onto the pathways of their garden. This project aims to beautify the space by preventing grass from growing in the pathways (and having to mow it), in the garden beds (and having to weed it); and cleans up…

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Watching The King of Caterpillars with Kinders at Foster

Today, the kindergarten kids at Foster Elementary School learned all about our bug friends, the roly poly bugs and the monarch caterpillar. With the help of a student’s shirt, we got to learn ALL about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and the type of diet the caterpillars eat (milkweed!). Afterwards, the students hurried…

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Mas Mulch at Foster

Today we continued our wood chip spreading activity. Some students learned safety and patience as they took turns shoveling mulch into the wheelbarrow and waited for their turn to scoop. Other students helped with odd jobs around the garden: planting seeds, cleaning plants of dead leaves, chopping plants for the compost pile, finding rolly pollies…

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Hanging out with Worms at Foster

With the sun out and the tables moved to the sunshine, we had a grand time in the garden today. We talked about worms and what they do to take care of the earth. They have tiny brains but they remember all of their responsibilities: digging tunnels, decomposing old fruits and vegetables, and making soil!…

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Finding Spirals in the Garden | Foster

Today was so much fun. We spent most of garden class reading an exceptional book called Swirl by Swirl where we discovered that we can find spirals in the nature that’s around us. These spirals illustrate more than just a shape; they have different characteristics like protection, cleverness, warmth, strength, beauty, and more. Sometimes the…

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Preparing for Rain | Foster

In lieu of the impending rain, I taught the students at Foster about the Water Cycle. With the clouds in the sky above us, and the breeze occasionally swirling, we got to observe the change of weather in action! The water cycle is a beautiful process in which our earth reuses water. It begins over…

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Garden: a Mini Ecosystem | Foster

“What is an ecosystem?” I began. “It is an environment where things live together and depend on each other for survival.” We live on earth. We breath oxygen, receive energy from the Sun through plants and animals, are weighed down by gravity, etc. Our planet is a perfect ecosystem for us to live. We could…

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Thank you, Bees! | Foster

Today at Foster we learned about pollination — the process where pollinators such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and bats spread pollen from flower to flower. What is POLLEN, you ask? It is the yellow dust that is made by the STAMENS in the middle of the flower. (You may recognize it as what makes people sneeze…

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Lifecycle of Plants Art | Foster

Every kid from preschool up knows that when a seed is planted in the ground, it grows a new plant. All it needs is soil, water and sunlight and – boom – it transforms from a tiny seed to a flower or tree. …but what happens to that little seed? How does it grow? Every…

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Can You Find the Dripline? | Foster

Last month, in lieu of the rain, the students at Foster Elementary and I reviewed the Water Cycle and how the earth recycles and reduces the water through evaporation, condensation & precipitation. Together, we looked at a picture illustrating this repetitive pattern: water evaporating from the ocean to the air (leaving the salt behind), condensing…

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Ladybugs & Cauliflower at Foster

Today was the last day teaching Ms. Chavera’s kindergarten class. I was a bit sad because her students always brings a smile to my face. I shall miss their hugs! Also, each of them is not only curious but very mindful of the plants and animals. We’ve had so much fun observing worms, planting sunflower…

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Fence Building at Foster with UCLA volunteers

On Saturday, we built a brand-spanking new fence for Foster’s garden. Additionally, we installed a line of irrigation along the fence for drought-tolerant and native plants, thoroughly weeded the beds and capped off the leaky sprinklers so no more grass grows in the walkways. Thanks to the volunteers from UCLA who helped make this happen!

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Bugs & Seeds | Foster

During our class today, we talked about the bugs that make the garden happy and bugs that make the garden sad. Then we went on a scavenger hunt to see what we could find… check it out!

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Anatomy of a Worm | Foster

Do you know which end of a worm is its mouth and which end is its tail? Do you know how many hearts are inside a worm? Did you know that a worm doesn’t have a stomach? Through drawing the Anatomy of a Worm, my students at Foster Elementary learned that these invertebrates do, indeed,…

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“Chard is delicious!” at Foster

Today at Foster, we were introduced to a new leafy green: Swiss Chard. This late-summer-early-fall green has a red vein down the middle. While some kids don’t mind eating it straight off the plant, and some kids compete for who gets the stem, some don’t like the bitter taste very much. So today, I brought…

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Chard Grows Wild | Foster

Wow! Since Foster’s irrigation was fixed this summer, the newly planted Swiss Chard has been growing RAPIDLY! I made sure when making my rounds to speak with teachers today, to announce the news that the chard is absolutely begging to be eaten. I even showed several staff how to harvest the leaves by simply snipping…

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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…

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Foster – Irrigation on lock!

Hello Garden Friends, Following up after the Next Step Ministries work party last week, we now have the irrigation portion of the job complete! Follow this link to see the system in action and scroll down to view the pictures below! Until next time, Jeff  

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Final Class @ Foster!

What a lovely year, gardening and teaching at Foster Elementary! To commemorate the last day of Garden Classes before summer, I wanted to share an experience for them to remember: making food together and serving one another. Our recipe was a simple pasta salad: shell pasta, diced yellow pepper, diced cucumber, diced tomato, torn fresh…

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Garden Nature Boards | Foster

The kids had an opportunity to be their creative selves in the garden today. I put them into two groups and each assigned each to work together to design a “garden flag.” It was fun for me to watch how the students interacted 🙂

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Vermiculture | Foster

I had the pleasure of being alongside a fabulous Intern today who was such a help to me whilst teaching the kids at Foster about Vermiculture. I’d taught them about COMPOST a few times, which a few students remembered. But this is such a complicated subject that today I thought I’d take a different approach:…

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Lifecycle of ladybug 🐞 | Foster

What a gorgeous day! Students at Foster Elementary learned about the lifecycle of a ladybug. This insect grows up much like a butterfly but the stages look different. Instead of a caterpillar, a ladybug is born as a larva, sheds its skin several times as it grows, hardens into a pupa and crawls out as a…

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Why Do We Garden? | Foster

I had so much fun today with my students at Foster 🙂 today marked the first week of classes for a new unit so we mostly discussed the purpose of gardening. Instead of me boring them with a list, I decided to ask them what they thought. Here are my students’ top answers, from Kindergarden…

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Yummy strawberries! | Foster

During recess today the kids helped me pick the strawberries that were ripe after a week of spring break. What a treat!

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Decomposers | Foster

Today was so much fun. I had new Ranger Christina join me in educating the kiddos about composting. We alternated our dialog back and forth, evaluating their knowledge of the earthy subject – what they already knew and what they wanted to know. We taught them about decomposers (the Fungus, Bacteria and Invertebrates), what materials can go…

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Harvesting Seeds | Foster

Today we learned about where seeds come from (flowers and fruits). I showed the students some examples of flowers (zinnias, blanket flowers and sunflowers) which died but have seeds accumulated in the center. We might be sad that the flower is gone but we can be happy because the center carries lots and lots of seeds…

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