Welcome To Planting The Seeds

Planting The Seeds is the blog/website dedicated to detailing the efforts of planting and maintaining a garden at Nolan Elementary.  It takes its name from the motto of “BE Culturally Exposed”, the program created by Bonnie Odom.  Here you will find the story behind the people that manage, support and work in the garden.  The garden with the support of the programs of the Greening of Detroit, is in its first year at this location, and is part of the program called Project Sweet Tomato, which was created by Arthur Littsey.  The goal of the program is to bring businesses and citizens together to foster a spirit of activism and goodwill that will have a positive impact on the community.  Snelling Staffing Services is the founding sponsor of the Nolan “Fierce Gardeners” Community Garden“!


School:  Nolan Elementary School


Location:  1150 E. Lantz Street; Detroit, Michigan 48203

Garden Club:  Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners

Garden Name:  Planting The Seeds


Garden Coordinator:  Bonnie Odom (BE Culturally Exposed)


Parent/Community Involvement Specialist:  Ms. DeAndrea “DeDe” Rogers


Principal:  Ms. Angela Underwood


Garden Sponsor:  Maura Ryan-Kaiser (Snelling Staffing Services)


We hope that you will enjoy reading about the goals and activities of this urban garden program.  Come back often as there will be regular features in these categories:

  • Contributors File – This section is dedicated to provide you with how-to information on gardening.  Included in the mix will be content provided by specialists and advocates of this garden, the program and urban gardening.
  • Events/Happenings – Information regarding events related to the Nolan garden, school activities and citywide garden programs and workshops.
  • Photo Diary – pictures of the leaders, volunteers and the community engaged in the effort of planting and maintaining an urban garden.
  • Recipes and cooking techniques showcasing the diverse culinary skills of the local community and regional recipes.
  • The Opinion and Editorial Section (Op/Ed) – this is where we get to address things that we observe around and about the urban gardening experience as it specifically relates to Nolan Elementary, the impact on the community surrounding it and the people who are seriously engaged in the effort to improve the quality of life of others where and whenever possible.

We are having a lot of fun, so just click the box above to become a subscriber, and we will share it all with you!

Volunteers are always welcome and much needed.  To volunteer, please contact Bonnie Odom by phone at (313) 804-6776 or by email b.e.odom203@comcast.net.

BE Culturally Exposed

Please note that this is not the official site for Nolan Elementary School.



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It’s the Mid-Summer Harvest!

What an amazing summer it’s been this year!  Despite a vast number of problems and challenges the garden is still on schedule to begin harvesting some of its vegetables.  One thing I am sure of is that we now have a good idea as to how much work it took to tend a garden in the days before running water!

Mustard Greens and Celery...Spicy!

Mustard Greens and Celery…Spicy!

Cabbage Mix...some of which had bolted.

Cabbage Mix…some of which had bolted.

Have you ever seen Kale as robust as this?

Have you ever seen Kale as robust as this?

Weeding the Cabbage bed.

Weeding the Cabbage bed.

The Zuchinni and the Summer Squash are doing nicely but they need weeding and watering!!!

The Zucchini and the Summer Squash are doing nicely but they need weeding and watering!!!

Chief among all of the problems was the hot weather and the lack of rain during much of June and July.  The garden is located on the Nolan Elementary-Middle School playground and when the temperature gets too hot, they close the school.  When that happens, we lose access to the water system.  In the past, it has rained just often enough to offset a temporary school closing, but this year we have had consecutive days and subsequent weeks of hot, dry weather without being able to adequately water.

This Broccoli head probably could have been bigger if it had more water!

This Broccoli head probably could have been bigger if it had more water!

Eggplant A

Eggplant A

Eggplant B...What's the difference between A and B?

Eggplant B…What’s the difference between A and B?

Young Cayenne's...Muy Caliente!

Young Cayenne’s…Muy Caliente!

We were also vandalized.  Someone took it upon him or her self to steal our collard green plants, right after we had planted them.  We have also found a few of our new beds damaged.  It can be thought that the weather has something to do with the vandalism.  My reasoning is that when we are not on-site frequently and regularly, it provides opportunity for negative actions toward the garden.  We probably couldn’t have stopped the theft though.

"The Onion Field" er bed!

“The Onion Field” er bed!

There's more than one Beet in there!

There’s more than one Beet in there!



This Watermelon got a late start but let's see what happens?

This Watermelon got a late start but let’s see what happens?

Zucchini after it got watered!

Zucchini after it got watered!

There were Cherry Tomatoes here just a minute ago!

There were Cherry Tomatoes here just a minute ago!

What are these? Potatoes! (With a weed sticking right up in the middle of the picture!)

What are these? Potatoes! (With a weed sticking right up in the middle of the picture!)

Regardless, on July17th, we had six kids ready to harvest whatever was ready in the garden.  They have already enjoyed strawberries, radishes, garlic and zucchini, so now they were going to pick cherry tomatoes, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage.  A few of the kids had never tasted vegetables raw and fresh from the garden and it was fun to watch the faces they made as they experienced the “unvarnished” flavor and texture of the various leafy greens.  “Awe” and “Amazement” are just two of the words that come to mind.  I must note that the kids ate the cherry tomatoes as fast as they picked them.  I wonder if any will make it home to somebody’s dinner table?

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“Totally Rad” Radishes

Radishes of different hues!

Radishes of different hues!


It’s not supposed to be a big deal to grow radishes but this year we had a bumper crop!  Here’s something I didn’t know and perhaps you didn’t either…Radishes are part of the Brassicaceae family….otherwise known as the cabbage family.  That includes veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, and mustard greens.  Radishes are cultivated and consumed all over the world and have been popular with the students of Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners every year of their existence.  Typically they are eaten raw as a crunchy salad vegetable but with their numerous varieties, sizes and colors a lot more can be done with them.  Thanks to a recent article I found in a recent Care2 Healthy Living E-newsletter I came across a few new ways to enjoy this crunchy, spicy root.

Braised Radishes with Dill

Braised Radishes with Dill

This tasty recipe of braised radishes is unique and the peppery taste of the radishes is balanced by tangy cider vinegar, coconut oil, and dill weed making a delicious addition to any meal.


  • 1 bunch radishes, save radish leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Fresh dill weed or mint or radish leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • Vegetable salt and black pepper


  1. Slice radishes in half from top to bottom.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the chopped garlic and stir-fry for a minute.
  4. Add the radishes, cut side down in the pan and sauté them until slightly brown.
  5. Add the cider vinegar and water and cover, simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid and turn the heat to medium-high, cooking and stirring, until the liquid has reduced.
  7. Add the dill and cook for a minute.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve.


Quinoa Radish Arugula Salad

Quinoa Radish Arugula Salad

This is a yummy and nourishing salad for any season. It is full of good protein from the quinoa. It is a whole meal in one bowl.


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 handfuls of arugula
  • 3 or 4 small tomatoes
  • 6 – 8 radishes
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup olive oil salad dressing


  1. Mix all vegetables together in a bowl.
  2. Mix in salad dressing
  3. Add the cooked quinoa.
  4. Now sit down and enjoy this delicious salad.


Radish Leaves

Radish Leaves

What to Do With the Greens From the Radishes…

  • They can quickly be steamed and dressed with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Sauté the greens with onions and add herbs such as mint, basil, thyme or dill.
  • Add them to your green smoothie.


So how do you use radishes?

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At Last!

Our Strawberries have come along

It was a dream that we could speak to



A dream we can call our own!

At Last!*


Yes finally, we have a beautiful and tasty crop of strawberries for the first time!  I am not talking about a few berries here and there, no sir!  I mean an abundance of fruit that allowed for six kids to chow down for about 10 minutes (think of locust) and there’s still a significant amount out there of soon-to-be-ready and now ready berries to pick.

I bet they would make a good jam or preserve.  Any volunteers?

Because they were the first to be harvested, strawberries are our featured recipe.  With a little research, I came up with two recipes for Strawberry Lemonade.


Strawberry Lemonade


Yield:  Makes about 1 1/2 quarts


  • 1/2 lb strawberries (1 1/2 cups), trimmed and halved
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 5 lemons)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups cold water


  1. Purée strawberries with 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a blender until smooth, then force through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove seeds.
  2. Stir together strawberry purée, remaining lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and water in a large pitcher until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Taste, then add more sugar if desired. Serve over ice.  (To diminish sweetness add more water)

Cooks’ note:  Lemonade can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

© 2010 S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.


Total Time: 2 minutes

Prep Time: 2 minutes


(Servings: 2)

2 cups frozen or fresh* strawberries (about 24 strawberries)

*You can flash freeze the fresh strawberries beforehand

1/2 cup crushed ice (or smallest cubes possible)

1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

3 packets of sugar substitute or

2 Tablespoons of sugar (or to taste)

3/4 cup water


1/4 lemon, sliced, for garnish

1 Tablespoon of ginger, fresh or dried (finely chopped)

A Few Mint Leaves


Step 1:

Allow frozen strawberries to thaw slightly (or if fresh partially freeze).

Step 2:

Before placing ice cubes in blender, crush large chunks by sealing securely inside a Ziploc® Brand Storage Bag and rolling over the bag firmly with a rolling pin.

Step 3:

Combine lemon juice, strawberries, sugar substitute or sugar, crushed ice and water in blender jar. If blades get stuck, add more water.

Step 4:

Blend on high with lid tightly secured until smooth and thick.

Step 5:

Pour into glasses and serve immediately.  Garnish with a slice of lemon, if desired.


Is it good? Bonnie says yes!

Is it good? Bonnie says yes!


*At Last written by Harry Warren, Mack Gordon



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Simply Irresistible!

2016 will be a much different year than previous years at the Nolan Elementary-Middle School “Planting the Seeds” garden in Detroit.  We have taken steps to change the look and feel of the garden and we are growing a slew of new crops that hopefully will make this year’s efforts more fulfilling and fun for our young growers.  Much thanks goes out to our supporting sponsor, Snelling Staffing Solutions!  They came out on a chilly April morning to build the new beds, clean out the old ones and plant some cold-weather crops in the ground.  We really appreciate all that they have done!

We would also like to announce that Be Culturally Exposed, led by Bonnie Odom-Brown, received yet another grant for $1000 from the Healthy Environment Partnership (www.hepdetroit.org).  We are very excited to be recognized once again for our efforts for maintaining this community garden and working with children and to receive the additional support.

What’s New?

New in 2016 will be 10 raised beds!  Our original beds were placed in 2011 and served us well until vandals and the weather caused a few of them to rot and decay.  We got 5 good years out of them but they had become a safety concern as they were breaking down and splintering.

Blueberries are new in 2016 also!  We actually planted the new bushes last fall (Oct. 2015) and we were very fortunate they made it through the winter.  It takes a number of years for the bushes to get established and to produce fruit, but we will be ready when they are.

We are also going to try to grow celery, popcorn, peanuts, okra and various winter squash.  It is vitally important that we continue to add new crops to the garden as it enhances the appeal to our young gardeners, primarily those who have come back from previous years.

Lastly, from an editorial standpoint we are going to introduce more recipes using the vegetables we are growing in the garden.


April – Cold Weather Crop Distribution & New Bed Construction

And a way she goes!

And a way she goes!

 April 23rd

Getting Started!


Breaking out into teams!












One wheelbarrow load at a time!

One wheelbarrow load at a time!



 May 3rd

Blueberry Bushes and Curly Kale


Collard Greens

Collard Greens


Planting Celery

Planting Celery


Planting lettuces!

Planting lettuces!


Planting Onions and Leeks

Planting Onions and Leeks


The villagers have gathered!

The villagers have gathered!


Yeah, I Got It!

Yeah, I Got It!

 May 5th

Planting Potatoes...

Planting Potatoes…

May 17th

Keep Growing Detroit came out to test the soil!

Keep Growing Detroit came out to test the soil!

 May 19th

Hot Crop Distribution Day at Earthworks!

Hot Crop Distribution Day at Earthworks!  Oops, excuse my thumb!


What a crowd!

What a crowd!



I got some tootsie rolls and some candy corn!

I got some tootsie rolls and some candy corn!

May 24th

Cabbages 1 Month

Cabbages @ 1 Month


Broccoli 1 month

Broccoli @ 1 month


Pretty lettuces in a row @ 1 month

Pretty lettuces in a row @ 1 month


We need to weed this kale and blueberry bed @ 1 month

We need to weed this kale and blueberry bed @ 1 month


Red Skin and Blue Potatoes 3 weeks

Red Skin and Blue Potatoes @ 3 weeks!



Comments (8) »

Lookin’ Back!

It was just another day in the garden when I spied crawling slowly through the blades of grass a huge tomato worm.  It was camouflaged smartly so as to hide itself from its predators but it did not escape my watchful eye as I was tending the garden with the assistance of our student gardeners and a host of volunteers.  Tomatoe-horn-worm2Seeing this as another learning moment I jumped at the opportunity to draw the attention of the nearby kids to this fearless destroyer of tomato plants.  After a cascade of oohs and ahs…”what is that…oh, it’s nasty…can I touch it” type comments one little girl, who goes by the name of Jade, turned, looked down to see what everybody was talking about.  Her eyes opened wide and then with her “little big foot” she just stepped on the caterpillar.  She SMASHED it!  She then looked around at all the other kids, wiped her shoe on the grass, shrugged her shoulders as if she couldn’t understand what all the fuss was all about and why is it always left to her to do all of the dirty work.  AHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhh, it is wonderful to be outdoors and working with kids!

For many people, the idea of city school kids actively participating in gardening, urban farming if you will, just doesn’t make sense.  These kids are expected to be running the streets, playing sports or just gaming on either their cell phones or an x-box.  Gardening?  It’s not cool!  It’s not urbane!  It’s…it’s…well, it’s COUNTRY!  How is that FUN?

It was the spring of 2011 that we first started the garden here at Nolan Elementary-Middle School.  Since then we have had 4 different principals and we have been fortunate that each one has seen the educational and recreational benefit the garden provides for its students.  They see that one of its many values is its ability to be used as an extension of the classroom.  We teach math in our garden…measuring and calculating.  We teach science too.  Reading comes into play also.  We encourage leadership and teamwork skills.  They learn how to collaborate.  The garden, for them, is a place where their imaginations can run free and their minds can be as fertile as the soil they are playing/working in.  Here they can experience the wonder of growth and the humility that comes from understanding the power of what one seed can do.  The garden reflects the realities of life and the benefits of investment, commitment and hard work.  That might sound a little heavy for a bunch of 8, 9 and 10 year-olds, but amazingly they get it.

So here we are in 2016 getting ready to nurture our future world leaders from the ground up.  It is here where they will learn about sustainability and gain a deeper appreciation for the environment.  They are participating in the oldest rituals in the world…sowing, tending, and harvesting their own food.  There’s no better substitute!


Nolan First Day DSCN0530[1]


Nolan Garden 6.18.11 - 018


Nolan Garden 6.18.11 - 019


Maura IMG_2160-3 

 Maura IMG_2149-2


 Garden June 201229


Garden June 20126 

Garden breakdown photo 217[1]








 Nolan Garden 2013-18













 Cabbage Harvest


Pumpkin Seeds-2


Pumpkin Seeds 4


Pumpkin Seeds 5


Weighting Produce


Fruits of our labor-1




B.E. Culturally Exposed

Bonnie Odom-Brown

MIFCU logo and tagline

Andy Daily


Maura Ryan-Kaiser


Arthur Littsey

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The Major “Get” of 2015

October 2015 BE Culturally Exposed, the organizer of the garden at Nolan Elementary-Middle School, participated in the Detroit Community Development Awards “People’s Choice Awards” which was presented by Comerica Bank.  This was the first year of the People’s Choice Award and the winners would come from 7 geographically defined districts in the City of Detroit.  Each winner would be given $1000 and would be determined by an online voting program where supporters could vote as often as they’d like, once a day, during a 15-day period.


Winning out of District 3 was BE Culturally Exposed!  We contribute our success to the online efforts of friends, volunteers and supporters, you know “people who know somebody that knows somebody”.  We used every social marketing tool that was available for us to use to reach out to our constituents to get them to vote not just once but as frequent as the rules allowed.  It was a social networking miracle that enabled us to compete with other “more recognized or established” programs.  But like the little engine that could…we did, we won and it couldn’t have come at a better time.


We were vandalized at the end of the year by some individuals that do not appreciate what we are doing for the students of Nolan, the school, families and the community immediately adjacent to the school and several of the beds were in need of repair.  That’s where the award money is going…new raised beds!  New beds will be easier and safer for the young gardeners to manage.  Plus, we suspect they will be slightly more durable.  Lastly, they are modular, so we should be able to come up with some unique bed formations that may fuel their creative minds.


We also received a sizeable donation from Michigan First Credit Union toward the repair of the beds.  Lowe’s Home Improvement then stepped up big time by selling us some beds at cost, donating several more and providing soil upgrading materials at cost. We were able to feed and upgrade the soil conditions of each bed, including the new ones!


So a Big THANK YOU to all of our friends and supporters (the people that know somebody) that voted and helped us win the $1000 award.  Thanks to Michigan First Credit Union (Andy Daily) for their continued support and thanks to Lowe’s Home Improvement for their timely contribution.


This was so much fun, let’s do it again!


Bonnie Odom-Brown

B.E. Culturally Exposed


Maura Ryan-Kaiser

MIFCU logo and tagline

Andy Daily, Bus. Development/Community Dev.


Arthur Littsey

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Through the Eyes of a Child!

This year at the garden, like every year before, our primary sponsor, Maura Ryan-Kaiser, brought her camera to the garden and let the students take charge of taking pictures for a day or two. The amazing thing is that the kids do not see this as n opportunity to goof off…take pictures of each other doing stupid things or their cute little shoes.  They see this it as a chance to show off their photographic skills. I would be the first to admit that they do a much better job of it than I, capturing each others excitement, working and having fun in the garden. If I had to choose only one word that describes how they feel about their garden it would have to be the word “proud”. These kids, from the 1st grade all the way up to the 8th, are very proud of their school garden and all it represents. This year’s garden says a lot about the kids that came out on Tuesdays and Thursdays to plant, weed, water and ultimately harvest the fruits of their labor. Take a look and you will see what I mean…

You and me are going to be partners…



You and me are going to be pals!





When you’re smiling…






The whole world smiles with you!




Gray skies are going to clear up






Put on a happy face!






Are you smiling?  I bet you are!

Put on a Happy Face

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