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

IMG_20180314_142349008

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 the soil, and we return to the soil.”

 

 

 

I had been planning this lesson since I discovered a dead opossum in the garden last October. I took the opossum and placed it in a hand-made wooden decomposition box filled with leaves, straw, and the maggots that we already starting to digest the remains. I buried the box in a corner of the garden where none of the students walk and would water it every once in a while to make sure that the maggots and bacteria which break down the animal proteins would have something to drink. 5 months later and the bones look pretty clean!

I prepped the kids to see the bones by telling the story of how we are made of nutrients from the soil. We eat plants that grow in soil. Some of us eat animals that eat plants that grow in soil. Some of us eat animal byproducts that come from animals that eat plants that grow in the soil. But, we all come from the soil. Then I told them that at the end of our lives, we turn back into soil with the help of decomposers. Small creatures that take the nutrients in our bodies and return us to the cycle of life. Next, I shared the story of the possum who died under our banana tree as well as the skull that was cleaned by the decomposers. Many students had never seen a dead animal before. Some were even curious enough to gently touch the teeth and face bones!

Until next time,

Farmer Jeff

Jeff Mailes

Jeff Mailes is a garden designer and environmental educator working out of Woodland Hills, CA. A Los Angeles County Master Gardener and UC Davis Alumni, Jeff earned his B.S. in Environmental Resource Science in 2012 and has been growing edibles and natives for the past 6 years. Jeff's passion for plants and garden education has led him to school gardens from Los Angeles to Sacramento and all the way up to Portland, Oregon. Now familiar with ecosystems across the West Coast, Jeff has settled back home and works to bring people together over food and inspire the next generation of earth stewards to leave it better than they found it. When not writing about himself in the third person, Jeff enjoys singing with his guitar, going on camping and hiking excursions, and tossing a frisbee around with his friends.

Winter is my favorite season.

In this lesson we discovered that some plants are dormant (sleeping) in Winter, but before, they were preparing themselves for the winter in Fall. Others like the Summer better. Some do better in Winter and others love the Spring. We enjoy the winter because we can harvest some lettuce, kale, carrots, and rain is covering…
Read More

In Love With Our Garden

February is full of colors at Rio Vista Edible Garden. This is all thanks to the weather conditions that winter is bringing. It is also helping something very important to make a cozy place for the seeds to grow. Can you guess what?… Yes, Soil!. In this lesson we put our hands in the soil.…
Read More

Cycle of mustard greens

We could not be more happy about this! Our garden is showing us how happy it is! The mustard greens are blooming, carrots are ready for harvest, radishes taste fresh, snap peas everywhere, tatsoi and more!!! We learned today how important it is to respect the cycle of life of each species, to be patient…
Read More

From soil to flower

Winter is here, and our garden is enjoying the cold weather. Our class this month discovered why soil is so important in order to grow our seeds. We dug up and discovered a world of minerals and organic matter hiding in the samples we took from our garden. Every single component in our soil plays…
Read More

Learning about soil

January has been surprising. We have a new year to start with our hands in the soil. And yes, that is what we did. Kindergarten classes have been exploring different types of soil. They found out that soil is made of: Air, water, organic matter (leaves, vegetables scraps, bark, etc.), minerals (sand, silt and clay).…
Read More

Rediscovering the Hidden Garden

  Our 5th grade students made it clear that Rio Vista Edible Garden was missing some important information about the garden’s history. We are proud of the garden, so they interviewed the school staff and researched online to create these amazing nature boards filled with information. Our nature boards include vital information such as a…
Read More

Roosters

Great to have our feathery friends at Kingsley thanks to our awesome plant manager. The children love visiting the roosters when out in the garden. They keep us all company and they’re not too noisy!
Read More

Corn in February!

May not be right,but we are enjoying watching the corn grow at Marshall. When those seeds were planted, the odds were not great, but it offers us a chance to talk about how growing is an unpredictable undertaking depending on so many variables and not always following the ‘rules’.  Being somewhat new to the garden,…
Read More

Flower Art + Radish Hearts at 6th Avenue

In February we learned lots of awesome things with our 1st grade class at 6th Avenue 🙂 One of our last lessons of the month was “How a Flower Grows” and the students had a amazing time delicately taking apart a flower and putting it back together on a piece of paper to make flower…
Read More

Brussels Sprouts

So exciting to explore our winter bounty at Kingsley! While Brussels Sprouts may not be the kids’ favorite veg, seeing it grow definitely makes them curious! We’ll give them more time to grow and then sample….
Read More

Hummingbirds feasting @ oregano flower

By David Ames | March 22, 2019

2nd rotation of the year started at Angeles Mesa Elementary. K, 1st and 3rd graders have been interacting with the garden and enjoying Unit 1. 3rd graders are so intrigued and curious about bugs, they liked the Friends & Foes lesson a lot! We recently harvested arugula, more radishes, chard; and have planted sweet snow…

Freshening Angeles Mesa Elementary

By David Ames | January 31, 2019

We have been super excited and entertained during our first Unit at Angeles Mesa. Kids from Pre-K, K and 5th grade have enjoyed learning and interacting with plants and garden. EnrichLA resumed activities at Angeles Mesa in the middle of November, bumping into a few days-off due to Thanksgiving, Winter Break, and then the strike,…

Getting organized at Taking the Reins

By Marina Frugone | November 21, 2018

“How do we know when to harvest?”  aaaah…. a hunch? a feel? it smells right? fruit’s the right size? Why don’t we make a harvest calendar! Pulling out the trusty UC Master Gardener Handbook and looking up the approximate harvest time for each of our plants. The girls are attentive!    Also, though it is…

A world beneath our feet… ALC students dig it up

By Marina Frugone | November 21, 2018

“Eeeeeewwwwwwwwww!” said ALC student. “What did I do?” said squirmy worm exposed to the sunlight. “Worms are amazing. Here, grab one and I’ll tell you about what they do” said Garden Ranger. “Their poop is really good for the plants and they create air pockets for roots. Worms are legit.” said other ALC student. ”…

Sprouts for the Sprouts at Mid-City’s Prescott

By Marina Frugone | November 20, 2018

The 1st and 2nd graders of Mid-City’s Prescott School of Enriched Sciences (the sprouts, the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders are the seedlings…) watched these radish babies grow from seed to seedling and last week we discovered why root vegetables sometimes grow hugging each other…like these carrots… Once roots start to grow and grow under…

Stewardship at Taking the Reins

By Marina Frugone | November 20, 2018

Every Sunday I teach at Taking the Reins, a non-profit dedicated to building their four core concepts: responsibility, confidence, teamwork and leadership to teen girls in LA. Last Sunday, our main lesson was on garden troubleshooting and land stewardship where we made a list of things to do when you walk into the garden: watch…

Growing in the City…

By Marina Frugone | November 5, 2018

Between Westlake (McArthur Park) and Downtown LA you’ll find Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, a high school made up of several ‘sub’ schools. One of them, the Academic Leadership Community or simply ALC. The after school garden group meets every Tuesday from 1:30-3PM in a small but oh so mighty garden overlooking downtown. From day one,…

Multnomah Elementary goes on a Scavenger Hunt

By Olivia McCallum | March 8, 2019

This week at Multnomah Elementary the 4th graders went on a scavenger hunt in the garden looking for native plants! Each native plant in the garden was given an information sheet and a reason as to why we plant it in the garden. Do they attract butterflies? Are they water wise? Students were given three…

West Vernon Celebrates a Winter Harvest!

By Olivia McCallum | March 8, 2019

This week at West Vernon Elementary, we wrapped up our winter rotation. The students harvested what was ready from the garden which included broccoli, collard greens, cauliflower, purple beans, snap peas, chard, carrots and kale! We made some vegetarian tacos, using collard greens as the “tortilla” and each student was able to help make and…

Welcome Tulsa Gardeners!

By Catherine Siefert | March 11, 2019

Welcome Tulsa gardeners!! I had the honor of teaching Tulsa Elementary’s FIRST garden classes to some wonderful 5th graders! Over winter break, I had come to the garden to plant some seedlings so that our new gardeners had some plants to explore when they got back. This included kale, broccoli, spinach, chard, and carrot seedlings.…