Summer 2015 updates

All is green and alive around here. We are already preparing for September with intense watering, pruning, and a complete reworking of our native plant garden. It’s been great to be here in June and really try to visualize and meditate on how to use the space better and better. Lots of changes coming in signage and the planting of more and more diverse plants.

Healthy and vibrant.

Healthy and vibrant.

First food bank donation of the summer was 20 heads of incredible lettuce!

Foodbank donation.

Foodbank donation.

The tomato garden is looking incredible and might break Orca records for size!

Tomato madness!

Tomato madness!

You need music right? How about the summertime classic ” Everybody Loves The Sunshine”

It’s hard to ignore all the buzzing out here- the bees are swarming beautifully around the lavender, mint, and of course the awesome artichoke flowers..

Bee burrowing in artichoke flower

Bee burrowing in artichoke flower

Leave a comment »

Amazing end o’ the year celebrations

DSC_0586

It’s that time of year again, when we celebrate all the hard work and learning that was done in the garden this year. It is a yearly tradition here to muddle up limes, strawberries, ice, simple syrup, and MINT to make a delicious bubbly drink (a faux-jito?), toast each other, and take one last stroll and hang in the garden.

Our favorite kindergarten matriarch MARLETTA!

Our favorite kindergarten matriarch MARLETTA!

There might have been a couple dance parties too. Will MJ live forever??? Yes, at least in the garden.

DSC_0608

It’s a time of reflection too as many students (especially in the 5th grade) are moving on and are saying goodbye to their friends. Adios!

See ya 5th grade!

See ya 5th grade!

And here are many of these fine youngsters 6 years ago! To be able to hang out and learn with them for 6 years has been an honor!

A mere 6 years ago!

A mere 6 years ago!

Leave a comment »

500th blog post: A dedication to Gloria Martin, my grandmother.

500 posts & 100,000+ views by over 10,000 visitors in 7 years- it seems like a dream. In a way it is because what we do here is so unique, so outside the box, that we seem to be existing in our own world of organic gardening, delicious plants, and progressive education. Peruse the search box on this site and see all the things we have done over that 7 years. All the support over the years has meant so much, Orca is truly an amazing place.

I just might owe the original inspiration for what I do to my grandmother Gloria Martin. She was a tireless supporter of women’s and human rights, a radical socialist feminist, an AMAZING gardener, and an all around rabble rouser that inspired so many people to march in the streets and create change. She was the co-creator of the progressive activist group Radical Women. She also owned a bookstore that housed the largest collection of radical literature in Seattle. We are rapidly approaching the 20th anniversary of her death and her 100th birthday.

Gloria Martin: My grandmother

Gloria Martin: My grandmother

You can buy her book Socialist Feminism: The First Decade at The New Freeway Hall bookstore just blocks from Orca. When I was 13 I saw her give a speech there at a dinner dedicated to her. She spoke of all the work we have to do as a community to keep changing, keep growing, and keep evolving. Then she waved a handkerchief in the air and yelled, “Let’s get to work!!”. The crowd cheered w/ a standing ovation and a seed was planted in my mind to be a part of that change.

The revolution: One plant at a time

The revolution: One plant at a time

The family home that had the most amazing garden ever is just blocks from Orca too- there are deep roots in this community for myself and my family. That’s why it means so much to grow food here at Orca for the people that need it. My grandmother was the most amazing harborist and plant aficionado, as well as being a radical progressive activist. It’s hard not to be sentimental after all these years- for both Orca & my grandmother. Thank you for all the support.

Comments (4) »

Pizza & Spaghetti herbs w/ kale pesto on the side

DSC_0493

Our weeks long project of harvesting and drying out rosemary, thyme, and oregano has finally come to fruition. We took some of our mixed pizza herb blend home to enjoy the Orca bounty all summer long.

DSC_0490

Students were involved in the entire process including some last minute thyme harvesting off of their dry stalks. A word of advice to prospective garden educator herb activity creators- make more than you think you’ll need! A little of harvesting that is blended up in my ninja food processor becomes smaller and smaller with each twirl. You’ll need a lot!

DSC_0500

I made some kale pesto using 3 kinds of kale, olive oil, and a lil’ salt. Reactions were generally positive..

DSC_0494

Leave a comment »

Massive Orca plant donations!

Have veggie oil car: will travel

Have veggie oil car: will travel

It has been a truly awesome experience to rumble around town in my bio-diesel veggie mobile delivering free tomato starts to schools. I have connected with so many organizations and schools, gotten to see their garden spaces, and really gotten to rub green thumbs with some amazing people doing and growing amazing things. We are at about 20 organizations that we have donated to. To have students growing plants and sharing them, is something that fosters empathy and caring that can only come through direct service to others.

Bailey Gatzert Elementary

Bailey Gatzert Elementary

Visiting Bailey-Gatzert Elementary after the removal of their garden via bulldozer was particularly humbling. The district thought the rat problem here near Little Saigon aka The International District was because of their garden. They proceeded to destroy an amazing space that was so important to a school community in need for organic, local foods. They have only a tiny space now but are still proud of it. I was informed that since they have no PTA or much parent involvement at the school, that students were just going to tend to the plants we donated and take them home in a few weeks. We were honored to hook them up and wish them the best in growing their garden again. This is another example of how our giving program really benefits other schools and students.

YMCA Earth Service Corps at Foster High School in Tukwila

Former UW Pipeline volunteer Stephanie w/ YMCA Earth Service Corps at Foster High School in Tukwila

A full list of organizations and schools we donated to (it’s growing too!):
Elementary and Middle Schools: Bailey Gatzert, B.F. Day, Wing Luke, Greenwood, Laurelhurst, View Ridge, Hawthorne, Graham Hill, Sandpoint, Eckstein,  Salmon Bay K-8, & a brand new elementary school in West Seattle, and more!
Organizations: Magnuson Park Children’s Garden, Jardincitos preschool on Beacon Hill, Pinnacle Explorations Outdoor School, Danny Woo Community Garden, Seattle Farm School, and more!

Comments (6) »

3rd grade tomatoes make it home!

Two for the price of one

Two for the price of one

Maybe you remember our 3rd grade plant growth project? Students grew a tomato from seed and monitored it’s growth every week for over two months. We learned measurement w/ rulers and how to care and love for our plants. Many plants had cool names like Bob & Mitzy.

They like their hard work

They like their hard work

Finally the plants were ready to go home and they looked amazing. There is a special kind of pride in a student’s face when they take that much time to create something alive, while monitoring it and taking care of it. Good job 3rd grade!

Leave a comment »

Native American folktales & Douglas Fir pinecones

DSC_0695
We revived an oldie but a goodie activity here at Orca by infusing a popular Native American folktale w/ art & an amazing sunny day. Douglas Fir trees are renowned for their ability to survive forest fires and this folktale tells the story of a mouse who escapes the fire by climbing in a pine cone (you can see their tales & feet sticking out!). Read it here!.

DSC_0694

A funny side note is that I wanted to look for a link to this story and what popped up first in the google search?!?!? Well it was an old blog post from us from over 5 years ago! Look at it here!

DSC_0689

Students were able to find a sunny or shady spot in the garden and create their story on paper. We talked a bit about the oral tradition of storytelling and folktales- this artistic rendition will help them retell the story. They took the pinecone too so there should be some fabulous stories being told tonight.

DSC_0688

Leave a comment »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 79 other followers