Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Growing Food... Growing Together

Every Saturday morning brings us fifteen wonderful families to the youth garden. They are a part of Growing Food...Growing Together, a ten year old program of the Washington Youth Garden that provides gardening space, resources, and instruction for area families. For fifteen weeks, families come to the youth garden to tend communal vegetable and herb growing spaces and go home with a share of the harvest every week.

In addition to our gardening, we learn about compost, nutrition, bees, healthy cooking, preserving, and many more topics through guest speakers who come to share their knowledge with us. We also go to the local farmers' market three times throughout the course of the program to sell some of our wares and meet our neighbors.

Though all this rainy weather has been holding us back a bit, we've gotten a good amount of gardening in over these first four weeks. We learned about soil and how to prep areas for planting. We planted beans and mulched them the following week. Kim Rush Lynch, former director of the Washington Youth Garden and current integrative health counselor, came to talk nutrition with us by sharing the best ways to choose whole, balanced, sustaining foods and avoid sugary, processed, and fatty products. On tap for next week is planting, planting, planting, as well as a session about container gardening.

Above: planting pole beans. Below: stirring the compost.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Week 2 of Garden Science classes in the Youth Garden

Marking the end of Garden Science program for this year, our third and fourth grade Garden Science classrooms from E.W. Stokes, Center City Trinidad, and Webb/Wheatley came out to the Youth Garden for the second and final time. Fortunately, the students brought beautiful weather out with them to the garden!

We began our morning with a walk through the Arboretum's Asia Valley down to the Anacostia River. We observed the river, and the students made insightful observations about how pollution and human impacts affect the river and its ecosystem. We discussed watersheds, discovered what watershed we live in, and made our own paper watershed models. Back at the garden, the students came up with many different ways we could help keep our watershed healthy. For example, the students suggested things such as recycling, not using chemicals, making organic soap, and putting filters in storm drains to catch garbage before it reaches the river.

After a snack of apples and honey, in the afternoon the students used the knowledge they learned in the classroom to plant in the garden. E.W. Stokes planted head lettuce, cutting lettuce, and swiss chard. Center City planted carrots, beets, and bok choy (one variety is called joy choy!). Their hard work is paying off, as the plants are starting to poke up through the soil in the garden.

We were sad to see our Garden Science program come to an end, but we hope to have many visits from our Garden Science students out at the Youth Garden throughout the summer!

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Name is Christopher Turse, and I am the 'Garden Coordinator' at the Washington Youth Garden. I wanted to write this first post on my birthday to say how proud I am to be a part of such a magnificent team at the WYG! Yup, this is my first job out of college and what a journey it has been... Today marks my 26th birthday and June 13th marks my 3 year anniversary as a youth gardener instructor! I am feeling very excited for the future and would be silly not to remeber the past and what has gotten us here. The garden and all of the WYG educational programs have come such a long way throughout all of our manifestations. Thank you so much to everybody that is or has been affiliated with the WYG in any capacity. I am posting these pictures for you all to get a glimpse of what myself, Kaifa, Kacie, Katherine, and all of our volunteers and participants have been experiencing in the garden. I truly cannot wait until this summer when the sun is beating down our necks and we are all laughing in the garden as we harvest an array of stunning vegetables, fruit, and herbs. As always, it's all about the children, no matter how healing it is for the rest of us...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

From the classroom to the garden

During the month of May, our five third and fourth grade Garden Science classes come out to experience the garden for two full days each. Despite all this rain we've been having, we managed to get two of our schools out this week - E.W. Stokes and Center City Trinidad.

We started out the morning with a scavenger hunt through the garden that took us around to find certain plants as well as parts of the garden that connect to our Garden Science curriculum, like our compost demo area. The students also got to say hello again to the worms that were in their classroom this winter, who have now returned to our vermicomposting demo area in the garden.

Next, we did a fun nutrition lesson that includes a healthy fruit kabob snack. The students learn that eating a variety of colors in our diet can help our minds and bodies to grow strong and be healthy.

Since the garden was really wet, we couldn't do any planting this week. So instead, we planted up flowers in pots for the students to take home for Mother's Day. We had already planted seeds in the classroom with these students and then transplanted the seedlings outside to their school gardens, so this time around, the students were telling us the proper way to plant.