Native Plant Studies

Our native plant studies have reached new levels of awesomeness- this usually happens though when we combine garden science with art. This allows the scientific and artistic mind of students to combine and cross streams (like Ghostbusters). They are preparing their books for our annual meeting of the minds- the ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE NIGHT on November 20th in the lunchroom.

Low Oregon Grape & Scientific Art

Low Oregon Grape & Scientific Art

The teachers & I are really able to engage the kids and help them when they need it. They are studying sword fern, snowberry, low oregon grape, thimbleberry, salmonberry, kinnickinick, alpine strawberry, and more. It’s been great to really examine how Native peoples from the NW used these plants medicinally and as a resource.

Examining the finer sapects of a Salmonberry leaf.

Examining the finer aspects of a Salmonberry leaf.

Plus the coolest trees of all time- the Western Red Cedar- are conveniently located in the back of the school. We sustainably stripped bark pieces that were traditionally used by Native peoples for clothes, baskets, and even diapers?! No need to chop these beauties down to use them again and again as a natural resource.

Who can strip the longest piece of Western Red Cedar?

Who can strip the longest piece of Western Red Cedar?

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Harvest Festival Funnnnnn!!!


What an amazing Harvest Festival this year! Our annual two day event was filled with fresh pressed cider, home baked goodies, corn husk dolls, leaf crowns, fort building, salsa making, & an endless supply of Orca French Fries. Whew!


Thanks to all the AMAZING parent volunteers and community members who are the unsung heroes of this cool event. We love you!!!


Most fries of alltime!


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Harvest Festival on the horizon!

With our legendary Harvest Festival on the horizon (Oct. 15th & 16th), we have a lot of work to do to procure all the goodies we grow in the garden. It’s a huge celebration and we worked hard to grow massive amounts of food in the hope of sharing & eating as much as possible. We hit up the Hillman City P-patch and our plot there to get our pumpkin on (a record pumpkin harvest for us!).


We picked enough mint to brew tea for decades…


And enough purple, red, white, and fingerling potatoes to ensure french fry goodness during the festival.


Ain’t no squashin’ our harvest…


And we were feeling grape, errr great!

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Organisms in the garden

1st grade is studying organisms for their SPS science unit & we went on an organism hunt throughout the garden. Spiderwebs are of particular interest because they are prevalent this time of the year (and super awesome to look at). Just grab a simple plant mister water bottle, spritz the webs, and they come alive.


The scientific drawings they did turned out fabulous.


They found many other organisms in the garden: worms, centipedes, millipedes, potato bugs, beetles, flies, spit bugs, stink bugs, & of course our mortal enemy aphids!


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Let the frying begin… Orca french fries!

& their 3 ingredients VS. the 17 ingredients of….


Lets get local, organic, fresh, free, & delicious. We harvested potatoes, washed them up, fried ‘em, & enjoyed the fruits of our labors (or should I say tubers).

Of course this is a crowd pleaser, but the lesson here in this annual tradition is clear- know what you eat & where it comes from. Grow it, harvest it, eat it.

It was an awesome harvest of purple, red, yellow, and fingerling potatoes.

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What’s in our food? McD’s vs. Bent Burgers!

McDonalds is always an easy target, I know….BUT! It is a recognizable fast food restaurant and an American institution that deserves to be looked at critically. In the 6th grade garden science class, we are comparing local, fresh, organic food systems w/ industrial food systems. Let’s get critical & scientific.

it has been a long time....

it has been a long time….

Though I can never recommend going into a middle school classroom w/ a bag of Mickey D’s and a bag of locally based Bent Burgers (Orca’s Peach Pit)- this did happen. What will happen if we let McD’s & a fresher bag of local hamburgers decompose in jars? Will one break down (No cheating, but check out this Supersize Me outtake) faster than the other because it uses fresh ingredients? Many are aware of the 17 ingredients in McDonalds fries but will they break down like a 3 ingredient french fry? How about a fresh meat burger vs. a frozen processsed one? Should we eat something that won’t decompose? Lots of questions, so lets get some answers.

Will it smell? Lets hope not.

Will it smell? Lets hope not.

It make take a while to make some moldy goodness, so we got down on reading the nutrition facts & ingredients on your average industrial food snacks & meals. We will be learning how to decipher serving sizes, ingredients, and the ins and outs of the maze that is a food label & nutrition facts box.
Again- beware walking into a room of middle schoolers w/ this box.

Again- beware walking into a room of middle schoolers w/ this box.

We will keep you updated on our findings….

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Amazing first week of garden delicious fun


We have been having a great back to school harvest after our first week back to school. There have been tons of greens, cherry tomatoes, sorrel, mints, carrots, beets, and so much more.

Can you find 3 kales?

We have started many units in the garden that are centered around the science that students will be studying in their classrooms this quarter. Check out 4th grade learning about food chemistry by comparing nutrition facts:
The hyroglyphics of nutrition facts

We have doing some serious harvesting for projects such as lavender oil and medicinal calendula balm- all grown here at Orca.

harvest time

And look how much mint this class harvested:

massive mint

Most primary classes got to do a fun garden taste test:

harvest time

And of course- some delicious mint tea:


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