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.

Snails Under Observation at Foster!

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…

Spring Garden Salad at Foster

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…

Getting to Work at Foster

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…

Watching The King of Caterpillars with Kinders at Foster

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…

Mas Mulch at Foster

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…

Hanging out with Worms at Foster

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!…

Finding Spirals in the Garden | Foster

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…

Preparing for Rain | Foster

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…

Garden: a Mini Ecosystem | Foster

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…

Thank you, Bees! | Foster

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…

Lifecycle of Plants Art | Foster

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…

Can You Find the Dripline? | Foster

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…

Ladybugs & Cauliflower at Foster

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…

Fence Building at Foster with UCLA volunteers

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!

Bugs & Seeds | Foster

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!

Anatomy of a Worm | Foster

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,…

“Chard is delicious!” at Foster

“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…

Chard Grows Wild | Foster

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…

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…

Foster – Irrigation on lock!

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  

Final Class @ Foster!

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…

Garden Nature Boards | Foster

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 🙂

Vermiculture | Foster

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:…

Lifecycle of ladybug 🐞 | Foster

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…

Why Do We Garden? | Foster

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…

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…

Harvesting Seeds | Foster

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…

Identifying Plant Parts | Foster

Identifying Plant Parts | Foster

I love teaching the parts of the plant. There are so many ways to introduce this important aspect of botany; it can either by super simplified or super complicated. That means that if a class has already heard the lesson before they will always learn something new! Knowing that several of my classes were about…

What’s in our compost? | Foster

What’s in our compost? | Foster

Today we had an open discussion about compost with Foster students… We began with defining DECOMPOSE. Some students knew this but it was a mystery to most. It means BREAKING DOWN. We can break down anything – fractions in math from big numbers to small numbers, a big pizza into small pieces. But we can…

Garden Games | Foster

Garden Games | Foster

To close the last week of this unit at Foster, we played a Review Game. I divided the students into two teams and allowed them each to choose a name. One class chose the Amazing Stars vs. the Super Eagles and another class was the Bees vs. the Scorpions. One classmate on each team had…

Ladybug Pupa | Foster

Ladybug Pupa | Foster

While we were reading about the life of a ladybug we found a pupa in the garden on a borage plant! I had never seen this part of the beetle’s lifecycle in real life so this was just as cool for me as it was for the children! Ranger Hope

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…

Let’s Make Salad! | Foster

Let’s Make Salad! | Foster

With fresh and ready-to-harvest greens, it was time to make salad! I had a new Intern joining me today named Anne. I was so happy to have her help with classroom management, as Food Demo Lessons can often be a challenge! After washing their hands, the kids divided into three groups: Salad Making, Dressing Making…

What are Pollinators? | Foster

What are Pollinators? | Foster

Our lesson today introduced four types of pollinators: bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and bats. We talked about what pollination is (the spreading of pollen) and why it is important (so plants can make more plants — so we have food to ea!). Then we pretended we were bees collecting nectar from flowers; the kids buzzed around…

Lifecycle of Plants | Foster

Lifecycle of Plants | Foster

I know that many of my students at Foster Elementary have heard the “Parts of the Plant” lesson several times by now. Miss Lily did an excellent job teaching it last year. But because this lesson is SO important to the fundamentals of gardening and understanding plants, I took a different approach today. I introduced…

Happy Plants | Foster

Happy Plants | Foster

I am amazed how beautiful Foster’s garden us. Of course, there is always work to be done so that it looks more aesthetically pleasing to passerby-ers. But Miss Lily (the Ranger last year) must have left some of her magical touch! The leafy green plugs I planted before Christmas break are looking marvelous; I’ve given…

New chrysalis at Foster!

Last week we looked at a caterpillar that had just attached itself to a fence in the garden. Today it was a chrysalis! Maybe after holiday break the caterpillar will turn into a butterfly😊 -Ranger Hope

Bees and Caterpillars and Pumpkins, oh my! | Foster

Bees and Caterpillars and Pumpkins, oh my! | Foster

With Veterans Day and Thanksgiving week, I’ve really missed my students at Foster. I can’t believe next week is the last week of classes for the year! Today we had a ton of fun learning about pollinators in our garden. We learned what pollen IS (yellow dusty stuff inside of flowers that helps plants grow),…

Thriving Garden | Foster

Thriving Garden | Foster

Despite having weekly irrigation issues, I am SO THANKFUL the garden at Foster is slowly but surely growing. I love observing the quick flutter of orange butterflies camouflaging in the Mexican sunflower bushes; hearing the buzz of busy bees pollinating the periwinkle borage plants as well as our pumpkins, basil, wildflowers and rosemary!); and noticing…

Foster | Garden Explorers

Foster | Garden Explorers

Brrrrr it’s finally starting to feel like fall, aka the cold season of LA! I was shivering a bit in my shorts and long sleeved shirt while teaching at Foster this morning. Yes, I am one of those wimpy East Coasters… 😀 Regardless I am thankful for the break from the hot spell. Today was…

Foster | Rosemary Olive Oil Dip

Foster | Rosemary Olive Oil Dip

With summer ending and the cool season beginning, there hasn’t been much to harvest at Foster … but I wanted to end the first unit with a bang. So today we learned a recipe the kids could take home and make with their parents – a recipe straight from their school garden! To each student,…

Starting seeds at Foster

Starting seeds at Foster

The weather is finally beginning to cool off in Los Angeles but the daytime’s hot temps continue, leaving us urban farmers with a rather awkward planting season. Summer crops are beginning to die off and it’s still too hot to start autumn plants (root veggies and leafy greens). But this is a perfect opportunity to…

Buzzy pollinators at Foster

Buzzy pollinators at Foster

Today was super fun as we learned about pollinators at Foster! Together we learned that this rather large word means animals that spread pollen from flower to flower so that plants can grow fruit; and what kind of animals accomplish this task. We came up with bees, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds! I showed them pictures…