Calvert – 5th grade highlight reel

Hello Garden Friends,

Oh where oh where has the time gone. It seems like just yesterday when I was welcoming to the 5th graders back to garden class and now they have come and gone. For those of you who missed out on the action and would like a recap of the first group, keep scrolling. Pictures and stories of the last 6 weeks ahead.Calvert - 5th grade highlight reel 2016 - 1 of 4

Let’s start with the featured image: Planting strawberries. Probably the most popular plant in the garden on par with summer watermelons, the kids were very excited to plant these. It was worked into a lesson about plant reproduction. Did you know strawberries make clones of themselves by sending runners out along the surface of the soil?! Explaining clones was not very hard for a bunch of 5th graders who have been fully immersed in Star Wars culture by now. “Why do all clones look the same?” I asked. I called on the kid with the Death Star on his shirt, he gave me wayyy to much information but never the less it came down to genetics. Many plants can reproduce asexually with clones or sexually with flowers and seeds. In addition to strawberries, we also planted garlic to show that bulbs are another way plants can reproduce asexually. As you can see to the right, a student has broken off a clove and very intentionally placed it in the soil. The bottom of the clove (where the roots come out) is facing downwards while the pointy end with the future leaves is oriented towards the sun. The next post will include pictures of the garlic which is already taking off very nicely.

Below is a picture of a time when we played a game very similar to red light – green light. For those of you that don’t know how to play.. essentially everyone minus the caller lines up one one side of the field. The caller then signals the crowd to come, stay, or move slowly using different verbal commands (aka red, green, yellow). However, we put a new garden spin on the game – reinforcing our lesson about the seasons and how all living things preserve foods during times of abundance to survive the winter. Bees make honey, Squirrels stash nuts, and humans can/freeze/dry/pickle/ferment fresh food.

First, I taught the students a phrase, “Food doesn’t go bad, someone else just eats it first.” We thought about the words for a while and I asked them to think of who someone else could be. Bugs! Yes! Mold! Yes! Bacteria! Yes! They were getting it. Then, I asked them how we save food. The fridge and freezer were obvious answers so I used it as an example when the students were lined up across from me. “Now,” I said, “Imagine you are all hungry decomposers trying to get this sliced up apple in my hand. Instead of green light, I’ll say a food that rots quickly. Instead of yellow light, I’ll say a food that decomposes slowly and instead of red light, I’ll say a food that doesn’t go bad.”

What would you do if I said… fresh lettuce? how about orange juice in the fridge? canned peaches?

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To the left is a student writing love notes to the garden on a piece of wood bound for a construction project. Why?

Because water thats why.. still confused?

Well, here is some context. Over the summer we installed a new water system so that parents and garden rangers can easily adjust the water system based on the seasonal needs of the plants. Unfortunately, it turned out that the students were all to eager to help with the timer and for several weeks in a row I would come back and the water was off because the dial was turned to the wrong setting.

Maybe now the picture will make sense. The fore mentioned construction project is an irrigation lockbox and I decided I would make the kids part of the solution. While some of the kids were decorating the pieces of wood, others were helping me attached them to a wooden cube I made out of scraps from past garden builds. I asked the students to draw things they would like to see in the garden, or write a poem or phrase that shows your appreciation for the space.

Below is the cube in progress with several students helping me put it together at recess. Now we have reliable water!



Until next time,

Farmer Jeff

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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.