Archive for September, 2012

Orca french fires- local, organic, & delicious.

From in the soil to french fry in 10 minutes

It’s that time of year again- harvesting and enjoying the fruits of the last year’s labor. It is an annual tradition (5th year straight!) to harvest potatoes and turn them into french fries.

casualty of digging

While we do not advocate frying everything from the garden, we do recognize a child’s love for french fries. Plus our french fries are fresh, local, organic, and only made with 3 ingredients (potato,oil, salt). Compare that with McDonlads fries and their many chemicals, preservatives, and additives (beef fat anyone?). Check this video….

Students got to explore making their own Orca fry advertisement. But it’s free?!?! So what- this gives us a great chance to explore advertising and how products are being marketed to kids irrespective of the health effects.

Future ad executive

Studies prove that the more TV and food commercials kids see- the less healthy they are. I think a big focus at Orca is to help kids develop critical thinking skills to make their own educated and informed decisions. Also to maybe share what they learn with their families, so we can reverse the health epidemic that the grand ol’ USA is in. One fry at a time!

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Amazing first week back!

scarlet runner beans

So much tasting, smelling, harvesting, and all around fun in the garden this week. The garden really is a place that brings us all together for a common goal that we all can agree upon- becoming connected with food & the natural world. It’s such a place of smiles and enjoyment as kids walk around smelling, tasting, & exploring.

Of course the other kindergarten class got down on some carrots and had a grand time being out here for their very first class. These lil’ guys are so open and excited about just about everything. All I could hope for is some skill building in growing and being connected to the food we eat.  Also- if they just start to enjoy plants and the environment- mission accomplished.

We harvested a ton more calendula flowers & seeds, lavender, anise seeds, and more. This fall is gonna be a doozy.

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Orca pasta sauce VS Spaghettios!

After studying the nutrition facts of a can of  Spaghettios (50% of your sodium for a day, 4th ingredient is corn syrup, 22 grams of sugar, etc.), we cooked up some Orca sauce with tomatoes and herbs from the garden. More fresh, more local, more healthy, more organic, and dare I say- more delicious?

This book + this can= a powerful lesson

I have been using Michael Pollan’s Food Rules book as a great mini-lesson for each class.  I just pick a rule that pertains to what we are doing that day and have an open discussion about it. Today’s rule was- Salt and sugar your own food! It’s not a surprise that home cooked food has half  the sugar and salt content.

The sauce was a hit & a very simple way to get kids excited about local & organic fresh foods.

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Carrot-tastic 1st day for kindergarteners

The 1st kindergarten class is always one of my favorites. It’s an annual tradition to do an awesome taste & smell tour- then pick one of those delicious Orca carrots. When I ask students how many of them are picking a carrot and eating it for the first time- more than half the hands go up. This makes my heart perk up- what a beautiful connection to make with food- picking and eating it for the first time. It’s an experience that forms their foundation and concept of food and where it come from. Awesome.

Then we picked some cherry tomatoes (and munched more from yesterdays p-patch harvest). The greenhouse was abuzz with these little Orca bees tasting and sharing- it was a beautiful sight.

Then we got a chance to smell and use our lovely lavender oil- soon they will get their own bottle of it to take home. Buzz on kindergarteners.


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Harvest-palooza for 1st grade!

yum yum cherry tomato

Sunshine! We gathered lavender (for lavender oil), calendula flowers (for calendula medicinal balm), calendula seeds (for seed packets), mint (for tea of course!), cherry tomatoes (to munch on), and fennel seeds (for future snacks).

Organized and ready for action

We got going quick today on our first official garden class day for students. We are in the midst of the longest dry spell in Seattle history (can you say global warming?)- but we still have tons of food to snack and harvest. What we harvested today will set us up for a few garden projects that are fun & tasty.

Bouquet flower power!

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Welcome back!

All in a day’s harvest

Welcome back to another great year at Orca. The garden is a place of growing, fun, and of course- delicious food. This next week, garden classes begin and I have some great new ideas for food, sustainability, and gardening activities. How about Orca spaghetti sauce from our own tomatoes? How about Orca french fries from our own potatoes? I’m just back from getting mad inspiration from the Growing Power facility in Milwaukee- the mecca of urban farming. Orca is on the up and up for sure with some new ideas and creativity.  Look for more food, more depth, and more food systems connections.

The p-patch is awesome

I went to the p-patch two blocks from school today, to harvest some goodies for cooking next week. It’s gonna be extra delicious during next week’s classes.  Stay tuned!

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Milwaukee Urban Farming Conference 2012

Humbled, inspired, and ready for action! The Growing Power Urban Farming Conference was an amazing mix of farmers, revolutionaries, students, teachers, and forward thinkers trying to change our food system. I was able to network with people doing amazing projects all around the world.  There were workshops, panels, and discussions by so many people dedicated to changing our relationships with food- for the better! The leader of this movement is Will Allen- former pro basketball player who re-dedicated his life to turning Milwaukee and other neighboring cities into urban farming meccas dedicated to sustainability and city food production.

Legendary Will Allen

Touring his farm/business  in a poor area of Milwaukee,  really opened my eyes to utilizing small spaces, energizing communities, and really putting a dent in our food system. His farm is a place to buy fresh organic vegetables in the middle of a food desert! His small business and social enterprise approach is a sustainable model for doing the kind of food & community work that needs to be done. Check his place out here:

Inside their greenhouses

They are pioneers in aquaponics too- raising fish and using the fish waste to grow food. This is all done through some pretty simple recirculation and pump systems.


I took some amazing workshops on composting with mushrooms, utilizing greenhouse spaces, nutrition, and working to transform our school lunch programs. Having that many people in one place sharing ideas, is truly how movements move away from talk and into action- mutual inspiration.

$2,000 hoophouse

This is a hoophouse they built on an abandoned elementary school parking lot. For a small amount of investment- a greenhouse can be constructed that could produce thousands of pounds of food. Plus- it can be deconstructed if need be, and moved somewhere else. Think of all the space we could use around our city!?

I got some incredible ideas for working with students too and Orca is sure to be enriched by all the ideas I tried to suck up like a sponge. Now, onward with the green revolution!

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