Archive for November, 2011

Anthony lands in India and helps build gardens!

Arriving in Hyderabad India after 30 hours of travel time can be a crazy and chaotic experience. But the sights, smells, colors, and overall culture shock are a wonderful and engaging experience. But there was no time to rest because we were set to start building gardens the next day! My good friend Jessica Frank is doing a fellowship with IDEX, working in affordable private schools in Hyderabad, India. Private schools have a different meaning here- they really provide an opportunity for low income people to get their children more of a quality education than public schools here. I even helped Mr. C & Matt’s class from Orca connect with two classes at the school as penpals (more coming on that….)

4th story roof w/ Hyderabad in the background

Hearing about this amazing fellowship, I got inspired and offered to fly over with some grant money from Boeing ($500) and build some gardens at the school. As soon as I saw the pictures sent to me, I realized that it would be a challenge to build a garden here. There is not much light in their open areas. But alas- the roof was wide open with tons of sunlight. So I set right to developing a plan to build some beds up there, along with some planter boxes and other fruit trees to really greenify this “dead” space. The owner of the school was very enthused and supported the idea from the beginning. I drew up some plans for the beds and he got a parent who is a carpenter to build 6 5×6 beds & 2 4×5 beds. We procured some seed packets of corriander, spinach, lettuce, sorrel, okra, bottle gourds, mint, and a few things that I didn’t know in Hindu. I also picked up some sprouted potatoes from the market.

a garden will go here....

The enthusiasm on the day we filled the beds w/ soil was really inspiring and energetic. Ahhhh- the soil…. We took a mix of the hard red clay they use for growing everything here, mixed it with bags of vermicompost ($24 for 400 pounds!), and added a little saw dust. The students were pounding, carrying, lifting, and planting with a fervor. They were really excited to get out of their classrooms and help. They really did all the work as I helped facilitate- they deserve all the credit- really!


The result was splendid, if only I could stay around to see all the growth and learning that I hope will be happening from the project. But I really believe that the enthusiasm of the staff will ensure it will thrive. It was incredible to see a little bit of Orca K-8 School so far away.

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Environmental Science Night Success!

What an incredible event showcasing all the incredible concepts and subjects Orca students have been exploring around science and sustainability. So many family members and students came together to share and learn. This event really brought our school community together in an academic and fun way! The thought and effort put into these projects really showed the passion and hard work of Orca students. We really got to combine environmental science and social justice w/ an artistic and fun approach. Thank you to our fabulous art teacher Stacy for integrating these projects into art class. Yay! Also thank you to all the volunteers and supporters of this great night of learning.

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The delightfulness of Lavender Oil

The precision of getting the lavender oil

Orca lavender has been marinating in mason jars for two months. Now it is a delightful scent that students get to take home! I got these cool perfume testers and we filled them up with the lavender oil from plastic droppers. All the lavender came from the Orca garden!

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Pen Pals in India & Indian Garden Project

I am headed to Hyderabad, India to build gardens at a school. I will also set up wormbins, rain barrels, and will be educating teachers about how to share this resource with their students.

RSK School courtyard

Matt & Mr. C’s classes have become pen pals with two of their classes. The 1st letters from them arrived yesterday here, and it was pure mayhem when they arrived- we have been waiting almost a month! Orca students even got a picture of their pen pal.


Pen Pals!

This project has been an amazing cross cultural connection and Orca students are getting ready to send their 2nd letter w/ me when I leave Friday. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to bring a bit of orca with me 10,000 miles away. I hope to lay the groundwork for doing these type of projects around the world.

Boys reading their letters

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Orca Calendula Balm & Kindergarten!

Another glorious Seattle fall day in the garden. We made calendula balm w/ olive oil, beeswax, and dried calendula flowers. This balm will heal cuts! These students got to learn that medicine comes from plants! We then got to go outside and enjoy the sun w/ a quick bout of mulching. Fun!

It's raining leaves!

label masterpiece

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Calendula balm. WOW!

We made calendula balm for the first time today. This great garden medicine is started with dried calendula leaves cooked up in olive oil. They are then strained and the oil is added to melted beeswax. It has medicinal properties to help heal cuts and scrapes- so you just rub it on and voila!- healing begins. Every K-3 student will get their own tin of balm with a cool label that they designed. This is a great way to take the Orca garden home and put it to practical use.

makin' a mess

Note to self: close the doors of the greenhouse, so that 5 bees don’t fly in because of the honey smell of cooked beeswax. Also- use a funnel or risk turning your table into a giant candle.

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Amazing Fall salad

We chopped a delightful Autumn salad full of beets, lettuce, chard, kale, and carrots- added a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar- and gobbled it up quick. This was hit with students, and showed that if they harvest and prepare foods, they are more likely to enjoy eating them. To be fair- a couple students wouldn’t even try it- but most did! This was a lesson in local, organic food- learned by preparing, eating, and sharing TOGETHER.

Gathering food & mulching on a beautiful Fall day

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Mulchapalooza 2011

Yes we love our garden, so we must protect it from the harsh elements of winter. Mulch in the form of leaves does the job very well. Plus we have plenty of leaves to do the job. Free resource!

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Pre-K food taste test!

Dinosaur kale?

We had a blast tasting food today during Pre-K garden time. These little ones are fresh slates ready to try anything! This includes dinosaur kale, beets, apples, valencia oranges, broccoli, and white carrots. It’s a lot of fun to eat with these kids and have them share how they feel about it and sketch the food itself. Thanks again to Full Circle Farms for hooking us up with a weekly box o’ food!

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Ms. Supaydah’s class explores SOILS!

Environmental Science Night on November 17th is shaping up to be a rocking night of fun & learning. Ms. Supaydah’s class will be sharing their knowledge of soils. We got down and dirty exploring 4 types today w/ an interactive art piece that will show at Enviro Night.

Oh yeah- we also ate some yummy beets, thanks to Full Circle Farms, who is hooking us up with a weekly CSA box of yummy fruit and produce. THANKS!

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