Archive for August, 2011

State schools superintendent to speak at Cultivating Health Central Valley schools summit

Will I see you Sept. 16 at this event in Fresno? The Healthy School Summit – Cultivating Healthy Central Valley Schools will feature keynote speaker Tom Torlakson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction. Check it out. Obesity among school children is a serious problem.

I look forward to finding out what role school gardens might have in addressing this problem. Others who would be interested: school personnel such as nurses, cafeteria managers, teachers and beyond; school board, community, youth and PTA leaders; and of course, farmers and growers. It’s an all-day 9:30-4 event.

This event is presented by the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program and funded by The California Endowment. RSVP requested by Sept. 12.


Six Reasons Why Kids Should Know How to Blog | MindShift

If I get a chance to teach a plants or gardening unit again, I will be adding a blog in there somehow. Exposing kids to this piece of the Internet is part of our district’s mission of creating “career-ready graduates,” even in the fourth grade! We aren’t quite up to eportfolios yet, and many of my students do not have Internet access at home. Still, the idea of letting kids control the messages sent about them is valuable. Maybe it would stop some of the abuse of the Internet by bullying teens. Six Reasons Why Kids Should Know How to Blog | MindShift.

Let’s “Mix it Up” with a School Garden to promote engagement

This story explores the evidence, said to be lacking, that our brains have particular “learning styles.” This message is still taught in teacher school. How about we teach children by “mixing it up” as this story promotes. As 2014 approaches, trying something new that’s really old might become vogue again. Why? Because all schools cannot all be “above average” by 2014. And even if a school as a whole tests proficient, certainly there will be groups left behind in the Annual Yearly Progress measures. Gardens would help “mix it up” and bring something new into the learning environment. We can teach standards through gardening. It doesn’t give the repetition that you can get in a classroom, but sometimes less is more when they are really paying attention.  On the other hand, how can I work in gardening when I have 33 fourth-graders in the class that I soon begin long-term subbing. I am looking forward to it, but yowza! IMHO, this story pushes it overboard, based on what I have seen teaching. We have preferences for how we remember details, or get engaged in a topic. And in what kind of environment we are talking about the brain operating? Brains working in a class of 33 is nothing like one brain working one-on-one with a teacher and/or assisted by computer learning or something else hands-on.

Greenhouse Could Revolutionize City Schools

This looks so amazingly cool! I know it’s New York but it doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen in Fresno! Just got to think outside the raised bed! The pricetag is pretty hefty, but I’ll have to follow their blog to see how it goes. Their goal is to expand eventually to 100 schools. Jamie Oliver should do something in New York, instead of hitting a wall in L.A. Greenhouse Could Revolutionize City Schools | GrowFresh Organics & More | Hydroponic Equipment, Supplies & Nutrients | Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Students from the Manhattan School for Children check out the plants in their new rooftop greenhouse on Monday. (Phoebe Zheng/The Epoch Times)

Organic farmer to speak at Community Gardening Conference

Don't forget to RSVP

Tom Willey will be the guest speaker at conference Sept. 3.

Tom Willey, of T&D Willey Farms, will be the lead speaker at the upcoming Community Garden Conference Sept. 10 in Fresno. Tom and Deneese run a 75-acre farm in Madera, according to their website They have been farming since 1980 and their farm became a certified organic operation in 1987. One look at their plantings, click the Year-Round Crops button to the left, reveals a diverse collection that follows the Mediterranean seasons of the San Joaquin Valley. I look forward to hearing what he has to say. Other topics will include starting a community garden, planning a plot, and keeping a school garden. We’ll also tour the Peach Community Garden. Bring your cameras in case you see an idea you’d like to steal or a plant you’d like to grow!

Art meets food preservation

WPA canning poster

Even if you're not into canning, you've got to love this for art's sake.

I couldn’t help but share this blog entry’s beautiful art. It’s actually from another blog, Margaret Roach’s blog A Way to Garden. But I first saw it on another one I follow, Retro Renovation by Pam Kueber. I myself am in a late ’50s home that we are slowly unremuddling. As a fan of retro fruit crate labels, I couldn’t help but share this poster beauty. Plus you get tips on canning, and strategies for choosing what you’ll plant based on what you’ll need in winter. Take a peek!

Great Sunflower Project

Great  Sunflower Project by mtnester
Great Sunflower Project, a photo by mtnester on Flickr.

I missed the July 16 bee count with The Great Sunflower Project. I was on vacation — couldn’t help it. But I will be visiting the Lemon Queens that a few of my students planted as seed last May. Several young sprouts were eaten before they cleared even 4 inches, most likely by squirrels. But several survived anyway as of the end of the school year. Custodians watered the area over the summer, along with their corn growing nearby on a sliver of land across from the cafeteria (and behind the Dumpster — don’t do it if you have another option). I hope our plants made it! Photos, and a count, to come. BTW, this photo is from the pool posted to flickr, by Teresa. 🙂 Bet you didn’t know that scientists figure bees are responsible for every third bite of food we take. Here’s a video on the project, http://youtube/33bRgiSgQcA

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