Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A New Season in Full Bloom

So much as happened since the last post in December.  In the last  6 months we have built on the wonderful foundation of earlier accomplishments and now see an even brighter future for the school’s garden.  Here are just a few of the projects that have been completed or are still underway this summer:
  • Raised beds
The first project of spring 2011 was the building of six additional raised beds and increasing the height of two of the existing beds. Four of the new beds were placed in the kindergarten area which had previously been mounded soil.  This should allow for better water retentions and ease of weeding. We are already seeing the results!!
  • Greenhouse
The greenhouse was an incredible show of energy, support, and coordination start to finish.  After receiving the grant from Whole Foods 5% day we purchased a greenhouse kit. We then proceeded to get the building permits, move the garden shed, and dig trench for the foundation. All tolled the project took over 60 hrs.  Most of which were in the chilly Spring drizzle! The thought of blooming seedlings (coffee and donuts) kept everyone going.

·         Pond Landscaping

Landscaping around the pond was given a new look this spring as pavers were removed and soil brought in to facilitate the planting of grass.  Upon arriving in the fall students will find the pond full of pond life thanks to a new pump and regular parent maintenance.

  • Outdoor Classroom
 PATHS metal arts students created benches for our outdoor classroom under the arbor. The benches were recycled from Fitzpatrick Stadium seats and welded to fit our needs. Installed with the help of Portland Public Works they are now a permanent addition under the arbor where teachers can bring students to gather for outdoor learning.

  • Curriculum
With the help of teachers and Cultivating Community , a grassroots community development program students were able to once again plant vegetables and flowers with an eye toward harvest and a more integrated  curriculum in mind.  Areas of the garden have been designed:
-          Kindergarten: planted 3 sisters beds (corn, squash, and beans) which focuses on relationships between companion plants. Sunflowers welcome new students and documents plant growth from the seedlings planted in the spring.
-          Grades 1-2: planted stone soup beds (carrots, beans, potatoes, and onions) and will highlight feeding the community by making soup.
-          Grade 3: seed-saving garden (w/ heirloom Maine varieties) will aid in the discussion of biodiversity and seed culture.
-           Grade 4: Maine potato varieties are related to Maine social studies.
·               Outreach

Longfellow is listed on a new website the Maine School Garden Network.  www.msgn.org  whose mission is to “promote and support educational gardens for youth, and to encourage school programs which teach healthy eating and environmental stewardship.

Longfellow hosted one of two Portland School District Garden Summits
Organized by Blair Currier, Local Foods Manager and Maryellen Thoma, Obesity Grant Coordinator their work is funded under Communities Putting Prevention to Work, a public health initiative addressing the environmental causes of childhood obesity. Their goal was to convene representatives of PPS school gardens and brainstorm about opportunities to build capacity for school gardens district-wide.  Longfellow has been a leader in providing school grown produce for the Maine Harvest Lunch in late Sept.  Central kitchens is exploring ways in which growing micro-greens by be able to be used in salad bars across the district.  Longfellow garden volunteers hope to share support and provide expertise as the program evolves.

Other Spring Garden Events:
¨     United Way Day of Caring Thurs. May 19th, brought volunteers to the garden to help prepare much of the garden for planting.
¨     Green Day at Longfellow   Thurs. May 19th, was also the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Green house attended by students, teacher and , Whole Foods Market.

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