Posts tagged Nolan Elementary-Middle School

Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part One

On a winter day…

I was going through the collection of pictures that were taken at the garden and I couldn’t help but reflect on the trials and tribulations of this summer’s garden program.  Many have been addressed in earlier blogs so I do not have to go into great detail here and now.    All I will say is that it was a summer that was hot as hell and as dry as the Sahara on one end of the spectrum to rain forest-like ecosystem at the other.  There was definitely a time when I thought it was all in vain but then the weather changed and we got rain, and lots of it.  As the locals here know it was hot, tropically hot and humid but it was the right type of hot and humidity that nourished the plants back to life.  It’s not such a stretch to have felt that that was the gardens’ biblical moment…like a miracle the rain poured from the sky and everything grew and grew to alien proportions.  Not really, but as you will see it turned out nicely.  And most importantly, our kids once again took home bags and bags of fresh vegetables!

 

Cheery Cherry Tomatoes!

Cheery Cherry Tomatoes!

 

 

 

We planted watermelon that actually grew big enough to steal (we lost two to thieves), but everything ultimately worked out (more on that later)

 

 

 

Popcorn…perfect snack for squirrels and other varmints!

 

Our "Field of Dreams"!

Our “Field of Dreams”!

 

A forest of kale!

A forest of kale!

 

Digital Camera

Later!

 

These pepper plants will be very productive!

These pepper plants will be very productive!

 

 

This alien looking plant is Okra!  It was the only one to survive the drought-like conditions in June and early July. 

 

 

 

Pretty vine!

Pretty vine!

The picture above is the result of two surviving sweet potato sets.  We planted 11, but all but two were vandalized and pulled out of the ground.  In spite of the difficult start, we were surprised by the very impressive yield produced by the surviving plants.  Think size 12 shoes!!!

 

Orange tomatoes!

Orange tomatoes!

 

 

Second planting of collard greens…everybody got some!

 

Collards ready for harvest!

Collards ready for harvest!

 

Future star of "The Pickle Story"!

Future star of “The Pickle Recipe II” movie!

 

Onions

Onions

 

First harvest!

First harvest!

 

Leeks

Leeks!

 

To be continued…Part Two

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Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part Two

One of the unavoidable challenges we face with a school garden is what to do when school is on break and the kids are unable to get out there.  We basically go into maintenance mode.  Before school lets out, the children have already had a taste of the good things yet to come by harvesting strawberries, peas, radishes, beets, etc., all quick-to-grow vegetables that were planted in April and May.  In maintenance mode we work to ensure that the kids have something to look forward to and come back for…and boy do they come back!

 

 

 

Mother and son enjoying the fruit of his labor!

Mother and son enjoying the fruits of his labor…picking tomatoes!

 

 

Another big harvest day in August!

Another big harvest day in August!

 


 


HABENEROS!

HABENEROS!

 

Remember these from Part One?

Remember these from Part One?

 

The start of something sweet!

The start of something sweet!

To be continued…Part Three

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Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part Three

It’s after Labor Day and the kids have returned to school and the garden.  The weather, much to our surprise, has enabled the garden to peak at just the right time.  We set the following timeline for the remaining weeks of the garden…

Week of 9/12

Kale; Cherry Tomatoes; Eggplant; Squash

Week of 9/19

Potatoes; Tomatoes; Peppers

Week of 9/26

Peppers; Lettuces; Popcorn

Week of 10/3

Collard Greens; Sweet Potatoes

__________________________

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t quite cooperate with us and it remained warm enough to extend the growing periods and harvest production of several plants.

 

 


 

 

Popcorn or Birdseed?

Popcorn or Birdseed?

 


 

Digging up potatoes…

 

 

 

This could be the start of something big!

Oops…a worm!  Let’s chase Arthur!!!

 

A lot of small ones to start!

A lot of small ones to start!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still something out there…

 

A teacher and her son!

A teacher and her son!

 

The vice principal doing some grocery shopping!

The vice principal doing some grocery shopping!

 

Not the last of these!

Not the last of these!

 

 

 To be continued…Part Four

 

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Just Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Part Four

The Great Watermelon Experiment!

One of the most anticipated events was the watermelon harvest.  After all, we had been trying to grow this plant for quite a few years without much luck.  This year, despite the fact we lost two melons early on to theft, our dream was going to be fulfilled.  We hid the remaining melons until they had grown to term and were ready for harvest.

But that’s not all we did…lol. Instead of growing the more traditional melons like “Jubilee” and “Stars and Stripes”, we grew a hybrid called “Yellow Doll” and it’s fruit was yellow instead of pink!  Our kids were surprised and at the same time disappointed.  Though it looked like a watermelon on the outside, it didn’t on the inside and therefore it tasted foreign to them.  Being allergic to melons, I was no help to them as I dared not touch the flesh.  To some of the kids it tasted more like a cucumber and for a few others it had no taste.  But for the majority of them though it may have looked like a watermelon on the outside, it definitely was not on the inside.  So much for the “looks like a duck, walks like a duck” theory!

 

 

 

Digital Camera

 

Remember those sweet potatoes I talked about in Part 1?  Well take a look!

 

 

 

 

 

So all in all it was a very good year.  The kids had fun…they got plenty of food to take home that they grew…we had fun…lots of fun and we are looking forward to next year, Spring 2017!

 

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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!

Pop-Pop-Pop-Popcorn!

Pop-Pop-Pop-Popcorn!

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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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!

 

 

 

Cabbages

 

Broccoli

Broccoli

 

Strawberries

Strawberries

 

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!

2011

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

2012

 Garden June 201229

 

Garden June 20126 

Garden breakdown photo 217[1]

2013

IMG_3574

 

IMG_3579

 

IMG_3589


IMG_3593           

 Nolan Garden 2013-18

 

DSCN1153

 

DSCN1328           

DSCN1183

2014

_MG_5248

 

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2015

 Cabbage Harvest

 

Pumpkin Seeds-2

 

Pumpkin Seeds 4

 

Pumpkin Seeds 5

 

Weighting Produce

 

Fruits of our labor-1

“TA-DA”

 

dark_honey_bee_hemberger

B.E. Culturally Exposed

Bonnie Odom-Brown

MIFCU logo and tagline

Andy Daily

newSTAFFINGdiamondtop[1]

Maura Ryan-Kaiser

project-sweet-tomato-logo

Arthur Littsey

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