Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Blog

Thanks so much for your interest in the Washington Youth Garden. Keep up to date with our latest adventures at our new blog: washingtonyouthgardenblog.org. There you'll continue to find photos, events, program updates and more!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Long live the queen!

Look closely at the photo above and you can see our queen: she's the one with the spot of light green on her back in the midst of a swirl of activity. Last Tuesday afternoon was an exciting time to be in the garden. After some high winds compromised the hive's integrity this winter, there were some lingering fears that the queen may not have survived the upset.

Slowly examining the hive, WYG beekeeper Toni Burnham gradually revealed clues of "queen rightness." Everyone was optimistic, but there was nothing quite like seeing her majesty in the flesh, lowering her large rear end into empty cells while her handmaidens hustled busily about her. We even witnessed the early moments of a brand new member of the hive, slowly breaking out of her cell, emerging into the world on gorgeous spring day.

Above: Toni cleans up the hive, scrapping off the food she had put in the hive to help them make it through the end of water.

Above: Kacie steps in to lend a hand with the spring cleaning.

Below: Winter's a tough time to be a bee. Fortunately, Chris constructed a brace to help protect the hive against future weather-related catastrophes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WYG Featured In "A Community of Gardeners" Documentary

The new documentary “A Community of Gardeners,” from local filmmaker Cintia Cabib, will premiere next week at the Environmental Film Festival. The film explores the vital role of seven community gardens in Washington, D.C. and shows how these green spaces are changing people's lives, their communities and their environment. Among the gardens featured in the film is the Washington Youth Garden!

The documentary will premiere Thursday March 24th, 7pm, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Following the March 24th premiere, Washington Youth Garden Program Director Kaifa Anderson-Hall will be participating in a discussion with the filmmaker Cintia Cabib as she discusses the 40 year history of the Washington Youth Garden in the DC community. The film will be screened again at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) on March 25th, at 4pm. Do plan to join us as we celebrate the community spirit of gardening.

For ticket information and for reservations click here.

To view the trailer and learn more about the film visit http://www.communityofgardeners.com/

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Enjoying the fruits (and stems, leaves, seeds, roots, and flowers) of their labors

“Wait! I need my recipe!”

The third graders from Center City Trinidad have cleaned up their desks and are being ushered off to their next class, but Makayla makes sure that our root-stem-leaf-flower-and-seed stir-fry recipe will go home with her. Our last Garden Science classroom day culminated with the ultimate gift that plants give us: their nutritious tastiness. Each cluster was given a baggie filled with vegetables and were asked to name the veggie, identify what part of the plant it represents, and its function in the plant's life.

I could not have been a prouder volunteer when even those who had participated the least in our eight weeks stood in front of the class and proudly, loudly presented their vegetable. The palpable enthusiasm in the classroom on our last day is what I had hoped for. I was thrilled with having helped them make the connection between plants and their lives, but wistful to see how they'd carry that lesson on. I'll be back next year!

Contributed by Olivia Ellis, one of the many dedicated volunteers that makes Garden Science possible.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Growing gardeners

Between long weekends, critters and technical difficulties, life for plants has been difficult at several of our Garden Science classes. The plants in our E.W. Stokes Spanish class, however, are looking great!

The third and fourth graders in all our classes are also continuing to take care of their resident decomposers.

Our classes at Burroughs are a week behind due to snow. Last week they made applesauce and traced their favorite meals back to the soil.

Stay tuned to learn more about our plant parts stir-fry extravaganza. After stepping out of the class to go wash her hands, one student reported back: "We filled the halls with jealousy because we're eating healthy and it also tastes good!"

Yoga for Gardeners

Head to Takoma Park on Saturday to show your support for the WYG at this garden-themed yoga workshop:

Yoga for Gardeners
Saturday, March 19, 2-4:30 p.m.
Willow Street Yoga Center, Takoma Park, $35

Learn optimal alignment for digging in the dirt, while nurturing yourself and enjoying the community of your fellow yogi gardeners. For beginner and more experienced yogis and gardeners alike, find ways to optimize your experience in the garden and on the mat with therapeutic applications of the Anusara principles of alignment. Elizabeth will donate a portion of the profits to benefit the Washington Youth Garden and will host a seed swap at the end of the workshop! Everybody welcome. To register or get information about Willow Street, please visit: www.willowstreetyoga.com.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Did dirt make your lunch?

In this week’s Garden Science classes we turned our gaze from the insects that make plant life possible, to one of the most important (and delicious) reasons we garden—to grow food!
Together we began to explore the all-important question of where our food comes from. We started off by breaking down a common and favorite meal, a cheeseburger, into its five basic ingredients: bun, tomato, lettuce, meat and cheese. Then we traced each of these ingredients back to its earliest beginnings. The pattern? All of these ingredients could be tracked back to the soil.

By contrast we considered the case of the Stawberry Pop-Tarts—purportedly “Baked with Real Fruit!” How many ingredients in a Pop Tart? Our third and fourth graders tried to guess:
“Nope….Forty-seven ingredients!”

The clincher: “Do you think all of these 47 ingredients came from the soil?”
“Do you think R­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­iboflavin or Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate came from the soil?"

Our digestible message about nutrition: If you can’t trace back your food to the soil, it’s probably not that healthy. Pretty pictures of strawberries on the front of a shiny box do not mean there will be healthy strawberries inside. (Dried strawberries can be found in the “two percent or less” category, right after salt.)

To bring our lesson to life, we equipped each young chef with a plastic knife, cutting board and apple slice so they could help the class make a pot of fresh applesauce. Unlike the grocery store apple sauce that might have upwards of thirty-two ingredients, homemade applesauce can be made with only five or six.

While the applesauce simmered into sweet, cinnamony goodness (with the help of some volunteer elbow grease), each student drew a picture of their favorite foods and practiced tracing each ingredient back to the soil. In some classes our students had remarkably sophisticated taste—drawing pictures of lentil burgers and sushi. In other classes students were still putting together the idea that chicken (the food) came from chicken (the animal) and that eggs come from inside the bodies of the aforementioned creature.

Regardless of their prior food exposure, young applesauce enthusiasts in all of our schools requested the recipe (before we had a chance to pass it out) and told us they planned to make this tasty treat at home.

Perhaps our most transcendent comment of the week came on Tuesday afternoon at Mary Becloud Bethune Elementary. From across the room a rambunctious third grader declared, “This tastes so good I feel like God is speaking to me!”

I think we can all agree that no lecture or lesson plan will ever compare to the transformation that happens during moments of sheer pleasure that only real foods know how deliver.