Field reports from

Rio Vista Elementary School

The garden at Rio Vista Elementary School was built with the help of the Do Good Bus, UCLA CSC, and UCLA Chi Omega. There are raised beds, benches, picnic tables, an outdoor kitchen area, and a three bin compost system.

Rio Vista – We come from the soil, and we return to the soil

Hello Garden Friends, Today at Rio Vista I brought some tomato seedlings and several other varieties of seeds to throw in the soil, also we found a grasshopper! After a quick lesson to remind the children the proper form of planting a seedling I mentally prepared the students for my next lesson: “We come from…

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Rio Vista – Saving Seeds

Hello Garden Friends, This week is all about making room for spring. I know, technically, we have another month before the spring equinox, but with higher than normal temperatures.. now seems as good a time as any to start clearing out the old plants and prepping the soil for the new ones. With some of…

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Rio Vista – Worms

Hello Garden Friends, Here today talking about worms and shooting ya some fun worms facts. Today, I brought over my broken refrigerator that I have stocked full of red wiggler composting worms. We started with the most obvious question, “Why on Earth would Farmer Jeff save a broken fridge and put worms in it? The…

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Rio Vista – From Basil to Pesto

Hello Garden Friends, Last Week at Rio Vista we finished part 2 of the two part lesson in making pesto sauce. Before this, we had to harvest the plants, remove the leaves, harvest the seeds, then wash the good looking leaves to save for the cooking lesson. Normally, pesto is made with parmesan cheese and/or…

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Rio Vista – Pre-Pesto Preparations

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Rio Vista we centered our lesson around Basil. These fragrant plants have started to flower in this late heat wave so it was time to pull them out. While doing so we took the opportunity to process the leaves for pesto, and collect the seeds for next year! The…

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Rio Vista – Fall Planting

Hello Garden Friends, Last week at Rio Vista we setup  a few beds for fall planting now that the temperatures are projected to come down and the light hours are diminishing. The 5th graders started the process by pulling out a the corn stalk and basil plants that flourished here over the summer. We lined…

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Rio Vista – Brick Making

Hello Garden Friends, The last couple of weeks have been pretty centered around how soil helps us grow food. This week I thought I would show them how soil can give us more! Like shelter for example! The lesson started with a question. Why do people build houses out of sticks instead of bricks? Especially…

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Rio Vista – Saving and Planting seeds!

Hello Garden friends, Today was the second week of garden class at Rio Vista. That means we got to progress beyond the introduction and rules and move into more fun learning activities! First we started by clearing out some of the dry corn so that we could save some seeds. In doing so we exposed…

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Rio Vista Elementary School

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Rio Vista – Magic Potions

Hello Garden Friends, Last Wednesday at Rio Vista we toured the spring garden and harvested ingredients to make delicious infused water beverages.. or magic potions. The garden is full of nutrients and vitamins and organic chemistry that has incredible healing abilities. Making teas and infusions is one way we can keep our bodies balanced and…

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Seed Embryos at Rio Vista

Today I had the pleasure of teaching garden classes at Rio Vista Elementary School garden.  It truly is a gorgeous place to be- so many fruit trees, garden benches, flourishing vegetable beds, and shade structures.  All nestled between a public park, the Los Angeles River and Rio Vista Elementary School.  What a treat!    …

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Rio Vista – chickens and asparagus

Hello Garden Friends, Can anyone think of a better way to spend a Wednesday than to dig up some soil, plant some asparagus root stock, and then watch a chicken eat some bolting lettuce. I certainly couldn’t think of a better springtime activity. Planting asparagus in the ground has been something I have been wanting…

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Rio Vista – Spring Cleaning and Garden Art

Hello Garden Friends, Ahhh yes the apple tree is blossoming and the fig tree is leafing out, the signs of spring are all around. The newly transplanted cabbage are growing quickly, as are the weeds; Thus the inspiration for todays lesson. After breezing through the intro with the third and fourth graders,  we identified the…

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Rio Vista – Recycling with Worms

Hello Garden Friends, Last Wednesday we celebrated Dr. Suess’ birthday by reading in the garden. With several guest readers, including  LAUSD Superintendant Michelle King, our garden time had an unusual start. To the left is a picture of several of our guests with the children. After the readers left, normal garden time resumed and I introduced the…

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Rio Vista – The pulse of the garden

Hello Garden Friends, Take your index and middle fingers and place them on the right side of your neck, right under your chin on the side of your throat. You feel that? That’s your pulse! That’s how you know you are alive! Right now blood pumps through your veins and into your thinking mind, allowing…

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Rio Vista – Chickens!

Hello Garden Friends, Today was a unique day in the history of Rio Vista’s Hidden Garden. Today we introduced the students to a chicken! We centered the class by reminding them about respect and empathy. “Do any of you get stage fright when you are in front of lots of people and asked to perform?…

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Rio Vista – First generation seedlings

Hello Garden Friends, In tandem with the mud brick post, teaching the children how to make their own seedlings has been a process a few weeks in the making. I can’t tell you how many lessons I have gotten out of our new seedling station.. oh wait, I can – in this blog post! Our first…

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Rio Vista – Mud Bricks

Hello Garden Friends, Writing today to share a few highlights from the last month where we learned to make bricks from the soil! This activity was worked into a lesson I usually teach explaining all the things that come from the dirt. The kids seemed to remember from last year, “plants, food, wood, paper, clothes…”…

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Rio Vista – Peas or Beans?

Hello Garden Friends, Long time to see! Well, schools back and the garden is returning in style – with a new seedling station! Last Wednesday we talked about the seasons.. and different seeds have a preferred time to sleep in the soil. The end of summer is tricky. Will it be hot? Will it start…

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Rio Vista says a HUGE THANK YOU to IPG MEDIABRANDS for their help in our garden!!

A very special thank to IPG Mediabrands and their internal summer intern program. Before Before After After Thank you IPG Mediabrands!! The garden looks amazing with your help!!

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Rio Vista – Early Summer Harvests!

Hello Garden Friends, It’s beginning to look a lot like summer! With giant squashes and zucchinis bursting forth from the beds, fresh potatoes coming out of the soil, and the scent of tomato leaves wafting in the air. Oh.. the simple things. Last week I shared these simple joys with the students while wishing them…

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Rio Vista – Grain to Bread

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Rio Vista we made our special garden fossil tortillas. Concluding the year with a nice talk about what fossils tell us about ourselves and how we are all related. While the kids had their tortillas cooking on the cast iron I had them smash some popcorn kernels so the kids…

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Rio Vista – Mortar and Pestle

Hello Garden Friends, Last Wednesday at Rio Vista we made corn tortillas! With the younger students I focused specifically on how we turn corn kernels into flour. We sat in a circle and passed the mortar and pestle around while I told stories of how communities used to grind wheat, rice, and corn grains into flour…

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Rio Vista – Tortilla fossils

Hello Garden Friends, Today at Rio Vista we made edible fossils out of corn flour. This gluten free geology lesson started out with a chat about how we are all brothers and sisters – all coming from a common ancestor. Some have green eyes, some have black hair, some are born with six toes! The…

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Rio Vista – Earwigs, and Pillbugs, and Larvae.. oh my!

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Rio Vista we played with bugs. I had a bunch of younger students and I really wanted them to conquer their fears of dirt and creepy crawly things. So, we had total immersion. There was no escaping the sweet smell of compost or the tingle of a pillbug on…

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Rio Vista – Compost Discovery

Hello Garden Friends, Last week at Rio Vista we finally got to harvest our hard earned compost! Panning for black gold we did, except instead of 19th century gold panning equipment we used our hands to sift out the stones, sticks, and bugs. Our goal was to fertilize the corn, bean, and squash beds (otherwise…

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Rio Vista – Weeds to Compost

Hello Garden Friends, Last week at Rio Vista we fed two birds with one scone, weeded the garden and fed our compost. With Spring comes the growth of all kinds of unwanted plants. So, I thought the kids could help me do some of the work 🙂 Above you can see the students watering the…

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Rio Vista – Plant Parts

Hello Garden Friends, This week we had the opportunity to see all different kinds of plant parts. carrots gave us roots, kholrabi gave us stems, lettuce gave us leaves, brocolli gave us flowers, lemon tree gave us fruits, and our wheat gave us seeds! Spring gives us such an amazing opportunity to showcase life at its…

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Rio Vista – Three Sisters

Hello Garden Friends, Last Wednesday, Before weeding, composting, and planting our three sisters garden I told the kids a story. See if you can figure out what the days lesson was about! Once upon a time there was a king who was in charge of a magical kingdom that grew food for the entire world….

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Rio Vista – Bug Hunt

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Rio Vista we continued to watch and observe the lady bugs transformations from egg, through the larval and pupal stages, to adulthood. Normally, I have a strict rule about touching insects in the garden. Can you imagine how the bugs feel – having 50+ strangers pick you up each…

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Rio Vista – Bug Season

Hello garden friends, Last Wednesday at Rio Vista we took a moment to stop and smell the flowers, watch the ladybugs, eat some citrus and play a game. What game you ask? Ladybug, aphid, plant freeze tag of course! Before the game I make sure that the students see all the different life cycle stages…

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Rio Vista – Baby bugs and trees

Hello Garden Friends! This Wednesday was the wonderful Read-Across-America event. The garden was alive with the sounds of birds, bees, and grown ups passing on a love of literacy through storytelling. After story time was over, I sang the students a song about farmers markets, saving seeds, and the joys of sharing good food with a…

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Rio Vista – Food Choices

Hello Garden Friends, Doing my best to channel Morpheus from ‘The Matrix’, I presented the 4th graders with 2 choices last Wednesday. The blue pill was a sugary donut hole – a choice that represented the primitive pleasure seeking mind. Students who chose the donut were blissfully ignorant of the health effects and environmental impacts…

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Rio Vista – Sweet Roots

Hello Garden Friends, Last Wednesday at Rio Vista we talked about warm and cold season veggies and the importance of eating locally in an age where food is getting expensive and the air is getting polluted. Cold season veggies usually grow under ground or are some sort of leafy green. Warm season veggies are usually…

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Rio Vista – Greenhouse Gas Dance

Hello Garden Friends, Today was unseasonably hot, Just about 90 degrees in North Hollywood. I had prepared a lesson about saving and germinating citrus seeds for the students, but I thought I needed to say something about this weather – so we danced. The lesson starts by talking about the balance of breath between a…

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Rio Vista – There is plant for everything!

Hello Garden Friends, The moral of Wednesday’s lesson: plants provide. In fact, we can get everything we need from the earth by taking care of the soil and cultivating the right plants! Yesterday’s lesson started by encouraging the students to think of all the things that plants give us. Food and air came out first….

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Rio Vista – Pollinators

Hello Garden Friends, Last Wednesday at Rio Vista, we talked about pollinators – specifically bees and butterflies. With the fifth graders, we talked about the different parts of a plant and focused on how fruits are formed. Next, we started naming all of our favorite fruits that would not exist without our pollinator friends. There…

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Rio Vista – Fruits and Bees

Hello Garden Friends, This Wednesday we finally got to utilize our fancy new chalkboard during a discussion about the six plant parts! We then took turns giving examples of edible roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Once the students were able to understand that anatomically speaking, anything with seeds in it is a fruit,…

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Rio Vista – Green Burritos

Hello Garden Friends, This Wednesday at Rio Vista, the students and I spiced up our greens tasting activity from last week. I brought some purple cabbage and carrots to shred and use as a filler in our ‘Green Burritos’. After rolling the filler up in our freshly harvested salad greens we dipped them in an…

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Rio Vista – Mild or Wild

Hello Garden Friends, This Wednesday at Rio Vista we did an exploratory tasting activity I call “mild or wild” to get the students to try some new greens. We had three types of greens freshly harvested from our appreciation bed planted during the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony – romaine and butterhead lettuces as well as some…

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Rio Vista – Dirt Made my Lunch

Hello Garden Friends, This Wednesday at Rio Vista I brought my guitar to sing a song about the importance of soil. The song is called “Dirt Made my Lunch” and it was originally written by the Banana Slug String Band. I usually start this lesson by casually asking the students what they had for breakfast…

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Rio Vista – Soil Building and Food Meditation

Hello Garden Friends! This Wednesday (9/9) at Rio Vista, we did some soil building activities with the older kids and some exploratory activities with the young ones. With the 4th graders I explained that making healthy soil is important in making healthy food and healthy humans. After that we learned two ways to make healthy soil. The first…

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Rio Vista Elementary School will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Garden.

Rio Vista Elementary School will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of their new Hidden Garden. The school has been working with the nonprofit EnrichLA, along with parents and volunteers, to revitalize the campus space. Sponsors and community members have been invited to the celebration. Who:              …

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Rio Vista Elementary School Garden. All schools should and can look like this!

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A New Garden at Rio Vista Elementary!

We would like to extend a huge thank you to Do Good Bus, UCLA CSC, UCLA Chi Omega, Rio Vista Elementary parents and students and EnrichLA volunteers for helping us with building our fourth new garden of 2015! Our volunteers beautifully made a three bin compost system, garden beds and benches. They did an amazing…

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