Field reports from

Toluca Lake Elementary School

The garden at Toluca Lake Elementary School, designed with help from Ryan Drnek, was completed in Summer 2015. There are raised redwood beds, picnic tables, and an outdoor sink and kitchen area.

Garden Pizza Party

By Jessica Brown / June 9, 2017

T’was our very last day of the year at Toluca Lake Elementary.  As the 5th graders graduated in the auditorium, across the playground I celebrated with my kinder and 1st graders in the garden! As a special farewell treat Andrea brought fixings for some fabulous garden pizza!   We were able to break down the…

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Birds and Gardens

By Jessica Brown / June 3, 2017

A garden is not just plants in the ground. A garden is an entire ecosystem from microbes to predators interacting with one another. Today in the garden we learned about one of the pieces of that complex system: birds! We usually welcome birds in our garden because many of them prey on the caterpillars and…

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Corn Pollination at Toluca Lake Elementary

By Jessica Brown / May 27, 2017

The students at Toluca Lake got a first hand lesson in pollination this morning. We learned some new corny vocabulary words like tassels, silks and kernels. The corn in the garden has begun to flower which means the tassels have “bloomed” and the silks have begun to show their hairy heads along the stalk. After…

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Natives at Toluca Lake Elementary

By Jessica Brown / May 22, 2017

The garden topic of the day at Toluca Lake was Native plants and flowers. Many of the plants we grow in the garden have been manipulated by humans through years by selecting seeds and sending those seeds across continents and hemispheres. We are grateful for the food diversity that an ever globalizing world has brought…

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Tea Party and Leaf Anatomy in the Garden

By Jessica Brown / May 12, 2017

It was a brisk and overcast morning at Toluca Lake, but not too cold for a tea party!  My kindergartners warmed up with some garden yoga to get their limbs moving. We then toured around the garden hunting for interesting leaves. I explained a bit about leaves and plant anatomy; leaf veins are much like…

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Leaf Hunt and Seed Discovery at Toluca Lake

By Jessica Brown / May 5, 2017

We had a new rotation at Toluca Lake Elementary School Garden this morning. I and my new intern, Andrea, welcomed the students into the garden by challenging them to a leaf scavenger hunt! We split off into groups and each group was given a handful of leaves.  They were tasked with finding the plant they…

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Where Our Eggs Come From…

By Jessica Brown / April 30, 2017

Today’s lesson at Toluca Lake was centered around Red, my fabulous travelling hen!  It was the last day of the rotation and Red was a special parting treat for the students as we said goodbye until next year.  Because it was such a windy day, I brought the hen into the classroom. The teachers were…

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Spring Cleaning at Toluca Lake Elementary

By Jessica Brown / April 21, 2017

Today in the garden we accomplished many tasks that needed our attention.  The last of the lettuce bolted, along with the spinach. The sugar snap peas finally slowed down there production and soil levels have been low.  The students today helped me remove the winter plants and put them in the compost.  We spread new…

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California Native Seed Bombs

By Jessica Brown / April 7, 2017

We did another round of seed bomb making at Toluca Lake Elementary and, again, it was a huge hit with the kids and the teachers! The younger ones simply had fun learning to mix soil and water to make structures.  We can only hope that the pre-kinders remember that the seeds inside their mud balls…

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Food Preservation and Flower Presses at Toluca Lake

By Jessica Brown / March 24, 2017

My students today at Toluca Lake Elementary school learned about food preservation.  We talked about what really happens when we accidentally leave an apple on the counter top for too long and it rots.  What is “rot”?   If we zoom in, we can see that rot is really micro-bacteria eating our food- turning into…

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Lookin’ at Leaves at Toluca Lake Elem.

By Jessica Brown / March 17, 2017

Today at Toluca Lake Elementary we took a look at the diversity of leaves we have in the garden.  Big ones, small ones, some the size of your head!  The young ones took time to draw and color the leaves.  My older classes were asked to write descriptive words next to their drawings.   Because it…

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Fossil and Corn Tortillas

By Jessica Brown / March 10, 2017

Today’s garden class at Toluca Lake Elementary School combined cooking with paleontology. We celebrated our last day of the rotation by cooking corn tortillas and talking about dinosaurs! We followed a simple recipe to make the tortilla masa- corn flour, water and salt. Most kids had eaten tortillas, but none of them had made them…

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We Love Manure!

By Jessica Brown / March 4, 2017

The garden was full of giggles and squirming children at Toluca Lake Elementary School this morning as we talked about animal manure and it’s value in the soil.  Last week the students met my hen “Red”.  Part of the lesson was understanding that her poop contributes to a healthy soil structure and gives and extra…

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Chickens in the Garden!

By Jessica Brown / February 24, 2017

Outdoor and garden education can be tied to all subjects in academics, especially in grade school.  My lessons have included art, math, history, science and more!   Today I brought one of my beloved chickens to class and she prompted some very lively and rarely-spoken-of topics of discussion.   Primarily the kids were just thrilled…

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Fruits, veggies and so much more…

By Jessica Brown / February 17, 2017

Today’s garden class at Toluca Lake Elementary was once again confined to the classrooms as the storm of the year raged on outside.  Never the less, we had a comprehensive lesson on plant properties. Today’s topic:  What do plants give us? First, we thought of the obvious answers: Food, clean air, shelter, healthy bodies.  …

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Seed Anatomy at Toluca Lake

By Jessica Brown / February 10, 2017

Today at Toluca Lake Elementary School I visited each class with my travelling popcorn show.  This class rotation is laid out conveniently in that I have a Kindergarten/Pre-K class, then 1st graders, then 2nd!   My Pre-K and Kinders are happy just wandering around the garden, smelling the plants and touching the colorful corn.  There’s…

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Veggie Testers and Descriptors

By Jessica Brown / February 3, 2017

In this morning’s rain I found myself indoors with my students.  I tried my hardest to bring the garden inside as the winter harvest is peaking and someone has to eat the veggies!  I brought in dino kale, cabbage, mint and broccoli flowers for some plant identification and taste testing. To practice our writing skills we…

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Winter Harvest and Seed Bombs

By Jessica Brown / January 27, 2017

My students today at Toluca Lake Elementary got their hands muddy with some Native Seed Bomb making.  They were troopers on this brisk windy morning.  I heard some apprehension about cold hands as I was explaining the lesson, but once we got our hands muddy everybody seemed too distracted to care. We filled our little…

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Garden Math Magic

By Jessica Brown / January 23, 2017

Today at Stevenson Elementary it was yet another rainy day on campus.   Once again I held garden class inside.  I applied their math skills to a seed production problem.  I gave them all 5 blue corn seeds and told them that on average one ear has 200 seeds and one plant has 4 ears.…

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Seeds: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

By Jessica Brown / January 20, 2017

On yet another rainy day at Toluca Lake Elementary School I held garden class indoors. (not that I’m complaining about the rain)  It was the 6th and final class rotation.  As a parting gift, I gave everyone 6 blue corn seeds.  And while 6 may not seem like a sizable amount, the kids and I…

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The [plant] Variety Show

By Jessica Brown / December 16, 2016

What a storm we had last night!   The much needed rain made for a very soggy and dewy morning in the garden at Toluca Lake Elementary School. I held the first part of garden class outside.  The classes had time to wonder about the beds, searching for emerging cauliflower and spotting caterpillars.  Everyone got…

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The Gardens

By Jessica Brown / December 9, 2016

Pheww!  What a busy day in the garden at Toluca Lake Elementary!   I arrived almost an hour before class to prep some beds for more winter planting.  The tomatoes have finally gassed out, and the crazy toma-to-topia jungle that once was, is no more.    (Tomato-topia is a word I overheard a student use…

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Garden Bingo

By Jessica Brown / December 5, 2016

My new rotation of students in the garden were lucky to come at the height of winter growth!   I wanted to be sure that my new garden friends were able to check out the flourishing plant life for themselves, so I put together garden bingo for them.   In pairs, they roamed about the garden,…

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[seed] Bombs Away!!

By Jessica Brown / November 18, 2016

Today at Toluca Lake Elem. I tried a new lesson with my students.  We made what I call “SEED BOMBS“! When I was in college, I made these with friends.  Basically you create a mud/adobe ball combining clay, sand, compost and water.   Then you mix in some seeds and set them to dry for…

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Caterpillar-mania at Toluca Lake Elem.

By Jessica Brown / November 7, 2016

Today at Toluca Lake Elementary School we found so many holes in our brassica plants!  (brassica = cabbage family.   Broccoli, cabbage, kohl rabi, etc.)  Before our lesson, we had a chance to explore the garden and catch those pesky cabbage worms.  They may turn into lovely white butterflies, but they are hungry, hungry caterpillars…

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Rainy Daze at Toluca Lake Elementary

By Jessica Brown / November 1, 2016

Hooray!  It rained this morning! I can almost hear the sigh of relief from the all the plants around Los Angeles that have been sticking it out through the long, hot, dry summer. Luckily for our edible garden, we run a drip irrigation system, so all our plants continue to be watered through the dry…

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New Rotation at Toluca Lake Elementary

By Jessica Brown / October 25, 2016

The Toluca Lake Elementary School garden is buzzing with life this week, new and old.   Today was the first day of a new rotation of classes in the garden.   Garden introductions are a great way to build a sense of place, belonging and responsibility among students.  Although all of my new 5th graders…

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Plant Reproduction

By Jessica Brown / October 15, 2016

It was a bitter sweet day with my Toluca Lake Elementary students; today was the last day of gardening class!!  (with these 3 classes, anyways) Though it was sad, that didn’t stop us from getting some serious garden learning and garden work done. Today’s topic: Asexual vs. Sexual Reproduction in Plants When we think of…

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Herby Days at Toluca Lake Elementary

By Jessica Brown / September 23, 2016

Today’s garden lesson was about food preservation. Why does food go bad in the first place?  Why is food preservation important?  How do we do it?   In the garden today, we fused science class with snack time.  Our world is full of living things too small to see with human eyes;  Micro-organisms are everywhere.…

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“We hit the jackpot today!”

By Jessica Brown / September 17, 2016

                                          “We hit the jackpot today!”                                                     -An excited Toluca…

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Down with Food Waste!

By Jessica Brown / September 15, 2016

Wow, what a great first day in the Toluca Lake Elementary School garden!  Our students today all remembered how to behave in the garden, so we got to jump right into the day’s activities. Today’s theme was “good bye summer, hello winter”.   Have you noticed the change in weather?  The garden sure has.    Any farmer/gardener…

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Garden Ranger Training going strong!

By team / August 24, 2016

It’s been about a week since we started Garden Ranger training at EnrichLA! This is the first time we’ve been able to offer training to incoming Rangers and it’s been a blast so far! We are getting ready to start our Garden Ranger program after Labor Day! Last week, we were at West Vernon where…

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New timer and Irrigation

By Alexys Thomas / August 8, 2016

Last week, we installed new lines and a new timer at Toluca Lake to water trees and our herb garden. It was so great to have new rangers learn from Lead Ranger Jeff! We all felt equipped to install irrigation ourselves! We also visited with the wonderful admin team, Mr.Daniel and Ms.Bove. We love Toluca…

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Gardening on the Fly

By team / July 13, 2016

As students throughout Los Angeles are spending their summer vacation away from the classroom, EnrichLA volunteers, interns and rangers are hard at work maintaining and preparing the gardens for their return. This past Monday Ranger Jeff and I visited Toluca Lake Elementary School to make sure things were in tip-top shape for next year’s students.…

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Crazy Cherry Tomatoes at Toluca Lake

By Shelby Thibodeaux / July 12, 2016

To tomatoes at Toluca Lake Elementary are booming like crazy! Today my entire day eas spent taking care of and harvesting from the tomato plants, especially the cherry tomato. Lots of pruning needs to be done that I will take care of next week. The potential of the garden here is amazing, and the plants…

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Toluca Lake – Independent Irrigation

By Jeff Mailes / July 5, 2016

Hello Garden Friends, So excited to have the control to fine tune our plants watering needs! Last week Jess and I set up a new electronic timer which controls the flow of water to our raised beds. We removed the lines which plugged into the districts sprinkler and set up a new line over a newly constructed…

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Thai Basil At Toluca Lake

By Michelle Moore / May 26, 2016

The Thai Basil at Toluca lake has been resilient all winter. It came to flower and we were able to harvest its seeds. Many times this is it for the basil plant, once it flowers and seeds it dies off but at Toluca lake we have new green growth again!

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Toluca Lake Teamwork

By Michelle Moore / May 10, 2016

Friday at Toluca Lake Elementary we learned about the six parts of a plant. Including body movement to teach kids the parts enhancing their psychomotor skills and improves the improves the amount of information they will be able to retain and recall. Each part of the plant has a correlating position for the body that…

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Radish and Relay Ready!

By Michelle Moore / March 15, 2016

Toluca Lake Elementary knows how to compost! Last year I started a Composting Relay Race game and it was such a hit I have been teaching it to students ever since! The objective is to choose the picture of the correct compostable item from a pile of pictures that include trash, recyclable items and compostable…

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Growing Beans

By Michelle Moore / February 29, 2016

On Friday at Toluca Lake Elementary, We were started a little experiment that would allow us to see the first staged of a seed turning into a plant. To be able to see the first little roots all the way till we are able to Identify almost all the parts of a plant.    …

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The Little Scientist

By team / October 22, 2015

Toluca Lake Elementary transformed into a classroom full of scientists! With magnifying glasses in hand they were ready to observe the world around them. Ranger Michelle explained how all scientists make observations and ask questions. They then form a hypothesis which sparks ideas and experiments. This was a fun way to introduce The Scientific Method…

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Toluca Lake Elementary’s Summer Bounty

By team / August 1, 2015

Flowers and fruits are abuzz at Toluca Lake Elementary Garden. The squash and watermelon plants are brimming over beds and the sunflowers and tomatoes have grown to their prime. After watering and fertilizing, weeds were battled around the ground bed, flowering basil was pruned back and a few tomatoes were harvested. Excited to share the impressive gourds and…

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Toluca Lake Elementary

By enrichla / July 24, 2015
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Spirals at Toluca Lake

By team / May 27, 2015

At Toluca Lake we read a favorite of ours, “Swirl by Swirl”. We talked about spirals in nature and went hunting for spirals in our garden. The kids found spirals in tomatos, beans, and peas!! We also planted seedlings of peppers, calendula, and an assortment of herbs. 

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The Toluca Lake garden prospers with students’ help

By team / May 21, 2015

Today at Toluca Lake Elementary, students enjoyed planting strawberry and pepper seedlings in the garden beds. Students were sure to plant their seedlings next to the drip irrigation pipes so that the plants receive all the water they need.     Tomatoes can already be found growing on the tomato plants that the students planted earlier in the year.…

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