Field reports from

Ramona Elementary School

The edible garden at Ramona Elementary School was completed in Fall 2014. The raised beds are watched over by a smiling scarecrow.

Food Chain in the Garden at Ramona

Whenever I teach the food chain — which most students older than second grade are familiar with — I like to teach it in a way that makes connections with the real world. For example, today we learned not only the basics of a food chain — that consumers eat producers — but also the…

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Soil Samples at Ramona

Okay, let’s talk soil. Did you know the Earth is the only known planet that has soil on it? As we know from living on this rotating, orbiting sphere, soil is important for life. With soil, vegetation can grow. Without plants, the air would not be clean, the topsoil would wash away and, of course,…

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Our Edible Garden at Ramona

Today at Ramona we talked about the nature of an edible garden and how it’s grown to eat food. Then we made a salad together with things from the garden. Fava bean leaves Dino kale Green chard Celery Basil Thyme Sorrel Eggplant Cherry tomatoes The kids worked in groups to chop the ingredients and toss it…

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Kids Make Nature Boards at Ramona

Today, I gave my first graders some freedom to have more exploration time than usual and to dive into creative mode. As the students took a seat, I explained that they could each go around the garden and pick 5 different (small) things to bring to the table to make into a picture collage. Always…

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Oxidation and Tea at Ramona

Today’s Word of the Day was Oxidation. The simple explanation (for fourth graders) is that sometimes when things are exposed to the oxygen in the air, these things exhibit chemical and physical changes. Some examples are iron rusting when exposed to the oxygen that’s in water, apples browning when the white flesh is exposed to…

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What’s Growing On? at Ramona

My students and I have been talking about the climate and growing seasons of Los Angeles. Because Southern California’s weather is fairly temperate, the growing season is longer than most states and for that reason a wider variety of plants can be grown throughout the year. Fruiting plants are grown in the summer (cucumber, tomatoes,…

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Super Salad at Ramona Elementary

At Ramona Elementary this week, my students had a chance to make something delicious. Chopping up blue kale leaves, green onions, tiny red cherry tomatoes, purple basil and tender squashes, the kids worked on their own to make a garden salad. They loved the hands-on responsibility of using kid-safe kitchen tools; and I am convinced…

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Ramona Elementary School

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Writing Recipes at Ramona

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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Open House 2017 at Ramona

What a fun evening! I had the honor of hosting a Garden Party during open house for the second year in a row at Ramona Elementary school. The parents stopped by to see the garden and also to taste some garden snacks. We served garden salad, beet hummus, lemon-mint water, grapes and rosemary olive oil…

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Pink flowers & Garden Tasting at Ramona

Info Circle Nuper turba hunc viseret foret vultus. Conversa turba orbem coeptis fossae liquidas. Innabilis membra est quisque evolvit praebebat vos his adsiduis. Matutinis caelo speciem capacius tempora posset: sic. Instabilis magni alta erat: unus divino obliquis igni turba. Today’s lesson was all about observation. I brought a large collard leaf, a bolted celery stalk,…

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Fibonacci at Ramona

Today’s class was a review from last week. My students recalled how to draw the shape of a Spiral and what are some examples they might find in the world around them, based on the book, Swirl by Swirl. A monkey’s prehensile tail, a snail shell, a tornado and a rose are fantastic examples. But…

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Let’s talk Urban Gardening at Ramona

What’s the point of urban farming? Wanting to open up discussion during our first week together, I asked my sixth grade students what they thought about farming in cities, especially on their school campus. There were a lot of differing answers from better access to fruits and vegetables, to learning about the ecosystem, to being…

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Garden Hummus at Ramona

My students at Ramona love to taste from the garden. To follow up our recipe writing activity last week, I brought the recipe for making homemade hummus. It’s a simple spread made with chick peas and tahini and can be flavored to your liking. We added a few ingredients from the garden — onions and…

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Let’s Make Observations at Ramona Garden

Introducing my new rotation of first and second grader to Ramona’s garden, I began with a table activity. We talked about the five senses first — touching, listening, smelling, seeing and tasting. And using three of our five senses, we made observations about three different leaves from the garden, recording our findings on tri-folded paper….

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Drawing Our Dream Garden at Ramona

“If you could design and build your own garden, what would you grow?” I asked my 1st graders. I then encouraged them to take some time to imagine and draw their own dream garden. It was a great activity to understand what kinds of fruits and vegetables these six and seven year olds are already…

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Gardening is Life at Ramona

Being the first day of a new rotation, I taught a new class of sixth graders today. With every introduction class, I like to take a moment to ask my students the benefits of gardening in a city like Los Angeles. Is it really relevant to us? How is it different than buying food from…

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Exploring the Garden at Ramona

(written in early February) Since the rains have been so prevalent lately, preventing my students from going to the garden during my classes, we spent the majority of today exploring the space and getting familiar with the habitat and current growing season. Lots of plants have emerged from the ground and bloomed, happily in response…

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Taco Tuesday at Ramona

What better way to defeat the rainy blues than by making tasty tacos? Working together, the students prepared a tasty treat with refried beans, shredded carrots (as the “cheese”) and steamed garden greens. The students had a blast being involved in this recipe demo: spreading the beans on the tortilla, grating the carrots, tearing the…

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Why are Worms Important? at Ramona

After two weeks of rain, we were back in the garden! For our last class of this rotation, we talked WORMS. Why are worms important?, we asked ourselves. What is such a big deal about these dark-loving, leftover-eating, red-bodied wigglers? In actuality, we are privileged to have such creatures roaming the earth beneath our feet….

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Exploring the Winter Garden at Ramona

Today was the start of a new rotation! After playing a game of “Heads Up!” garden style and discussing garden classroom expectations, we explored the garden space. A lot has changed since these second and third graders have seen the garden last year. Many students commented on the missing sunflower, which was a great chance to…

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Rainy Day Erosion Lesson | Ramona

With the rain steady trickling from the sky, today was a perfect day to talk about erosion. Erosion is when rocks and soil are moved from one place to another. Two primary actions of nature cause this: water and wind. Over time, these elements of nature wear away rocks and soil, creating nooks and crannies…

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Harvest Salad at Ramona

“Woohoo!!!” Hoots and hollers filled the air as I announced today’s lesson: making a salad together. As the students filed in and sat at the picnic tables, I split them into three groups: Choppers, Harvesters and Salad Dressing Makers. I gave each group a piece of paper with instructions to read before giving them their…

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Fungus, Bacterial, Invertebrates, oh my! | Ramona

Okay, so we know that a compost box is kind of magic, right? You toss rotten food and old plants in there and eventually out of the door comes dirt. But HOW does this decomposition happen? I’m glad you asked. 🙂 You see, there are other things in the piles besides moldy apples and brown…

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Nature Gives Us Everything We Need | Ramona

It was a joy to teach fourth and fifth graders today at Ramona Elementary School today. I haven’t spent time with these students since last year and — to be honest — I was a little nervous at the beginning of the day because all semester I’ve been teaching third grade and below. “How am…

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Layer That Compost! | Ramona

Today, 2nd and 3rd graders at Ramona students learned how to layer the compost bin, just like a cake. This technique is important in our school compost bin to balance the wet ingredients and dry ingredients (what we farmers call nitrogen and carbon). We defined these components as the following: wet ingredients – fruit and…

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New Signs, New Pathways at Ramona

In this current rotation at Ramona, I am teaching three classes, 3rd grade and up. They have a lot more energy than K, 1st and 2nd graders (my previous rotation), so I thought I’d put them to work today. Last week, I’d discovered a hidden mulch pile near the garden. Much of it is decomposed…

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Competitive Composters at Ramona

Do you know the three categories of ingredients that go into a compost pile? Wet, dry & water. Just like when making a parfait or cake, we also layer ingredients into a compost pile, alternating each one until we reach the top. Together, the students and I drew a diagram to illustrate a Compost Cake…

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Compost Cake at Ramona

Have you ever made a birthday cake before? Have you noticed that cakes tend to be served in layers? A cake layer, an icing layer, a cake layer, and finished with an icing layer. Well, in the same way, we can make a compost cake. Not for ourselves to eat but to feed the bugs!…

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Freshness at Ramona w/ Amal

A few weeks ago I suddenly noticed that a saliva bush in between two beds was dead. Looking closely, I noticed the plant still had a bit of life; so I decided to give it a little boost. I watered it with a generous portion of AMAL high voltage tea, plus some additional water. The…

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Edible Rainbow Boats at Ramona

Today at Ramona we learned that eating a rainbow is “NOT eating candy” (as one kid astutely remembered at the end of class :D) but rather eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables. We briefed the benefits of each color before assembling our snack: Red – heart (put hands on heart) Orange /…

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Farm to Table @ Ramona

For the first day of class, I wanted to introduce a term to my students that they may (or may not) have heard before but haven’t studied much: Farm to Table. We talked about the reality of our foods being imported from rather far away – even across California. When our food travels from a…

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Ramona Harvest

What a better way to get excited about garden class than to share the harvest ??? Today I found a sugar baby watermelon, peppers, dino kale, purple basil, green beans, leeks, eggplant and a tiny zucchini in Ramona’s garden! Amazing what a few weeks of summer will do to give a garden time to grow…

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How Does Your Garden Grow? – Ramona

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Ramona Students Make Salsa and Rate 10/10!

In an effort to introduce more of the garden veggies before school ends, I shared a salsa recipe with my students at Ramona Elementary today. Though I had to buy diced tomatoes (our tomatoes aren’t ripe yet!), frozen corn and canned black beans, I was pretty impressed with how “in season” and fairly sustainable our…

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Harvest at Ramona

What a pleasure it is to harvest what’s growing in the garden and share with teachers, staff and kids! Today I picked a basket full of greens, zucchini, carrots, basil, flowers and herbs!

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Whole Foods Kids come to Ramona!

What a fun day!!! Several team members from local Whole Foods visited Ramona today to observe the garden classes and record how this particular school garden is doing. I showed these guests around the garden, allowing them to nibble on make greens, chard and herbs; and to assist me in my classes. I was so…

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All About Seeds | Ramona

Where do seeds come from? What part if the plant produces seeds? Obviously there are seeds in fruits but where do seeds grow on a vegetable? What’s the biggest seed in the world? Are all seeds the same? These are the riddles we resolved during our class about SEEDS. We briefly walked through the lifecycle…

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A New Cycle | Ramona

Ramona’s back from spring break! It’s already our third and last cycle of the spring, which means new students to inspire into stewards and a garden awaiting the summer season. Off we went to pick, prune, pull out, and plant!  Our bounty of greens from before the break looked less vibrant, but the flowers we…

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Tasty Summer Rolls | Ramona

To commemorate our last day of classes for this unit, Intern Ashley and I made summer rolls with our students! We partnered up the kids, soaked rice paper in water, handed one to each pair, and allowed them to choose a variety of colorful veggies to roll up inside. Lastly, they dipped their roll in hoison…

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Water Cycle | Ramona

This week, we went on a journey through the water cycle—by drawing! On a blank page and with a colorful marker, we set out to explore an important question: How does old saltwater (as old as the dinosaurs!) become fresh groundwater?   To recap our journey: Saltwater from the ocean evaporates into the air and…

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Layering the Compost | Ramona

If there’s at least one thing Hope and Ashley share in common, it’s that we can talk about the many reasons why nature amazes us. One reason is that caring for a garden is a continuous journey through the circle of life. Why do we collect scraps and peels from our kitchen and cafeteria and check…

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Seed Lab | Ramona

Today’s lesson was especially neat because we got to see what we learned last week (a plant’s life stages) as a seed before it is planted and as a plant ready for harvest. Students writing out their observations about seeds… After receiving seeds in unlabeled bags, our students did not wait to guess the matching…

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It’s Spring at Ramona

It’s Spring at Ramona Elementary! The flowers are bold in pinks, purples & yellows. The radishes, arugula, lettuce and bok choi are bolting. And the air is filled with puffs of warm air. Goodbye winter… ….hellooooo Spring!

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New Garden Friends | Ramona

What a happy day to begin a new unit at Ramona! The garden is looking lovelier and lovelier each week and the kids are endlessly excited to see what’s growing, what they can taste and what bugs they can find. At the beginning of each unit, I always begin the first class with Garden Rules…

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