Archive for November, 2015

Fried Green Tomatoes & Southern Blues!!!


In our continued effort to extract EVERY EDIBLE BIT O’ GOODNESS out of the garden, we were cheffin’ up fried green tomatoes in the garden. First thing we did was pick the last bit of green tomatoes off the plants in the playground area.


We then brought them down and put a fabulous batter on them of brown rice flour, coconut milk, salt, and corn meal (vegan & gluten free!). The corn meal goes on last and adds a nice bit o’ crunch.


After that we wrote the recipe on green tomato construction paper cutouts and ate them up!


They were a big hit! Maybe 75% of students liked them (which is low for us, but hey- we tried eating a lesser known recipe of a semi-exotic food!)…


We also listened to a really cool mix of southern delta blues and talked about the origin of this recipe- the Southern US! The music helps make this a true cultural experience. Tune it in and turn it up…

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Pumpkin-tastic Voyage


The air smelled like pumpkins as we dug our hands into their gooey goodness and retrieved their seeds for next year. We did this both indoors and outdoors w/ both kindergarten classes. We grew a record number of pumpkins so there was a lot to work with! Seed to plant, plant to seed….


They really enjoy the sensation of wet pumpkin innards (well some do- a few watched in kinder-disgust). First we read this great book about pumpkins called Pumpkin Circle. It tells the whole story of growing and using one of our most favorite and decorative plants in the garden.


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A Kid- A Can- A Month


Our A Kid- A Can- A Month program asks students to bring at least one can of food every month for Rainier Valley Food Bank. We have our first winners of the coveted golden can trophy! Mr. McCullough’s kindergarten! This award goes to the class with the most cans collected and is a small token of appreciation for kids caring, sharing, and giving.

Bring it!!

Bring it!!

Many folks wondered if this program would continue after our former PE teacher Mr. C left this year. But alas, two fabulous teachers- Ms. Hume & Ms. Krista stepped in to have their classes keep running this program. Not only that, but the teachers are incorporating the collecting of cans and the math involved into their teaching regimen.



Stacy’s art elective class that I have been working with made these amazing posters that are all around the school.

Can we bring it? Yes we can?

Can we bring it? Yes we can?

All classes are outfitted with a box to receive cans. Thanks for your support for giving and sharing- The Orca Way.

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Epic & Bountiful Orca Harvest!

The harvest of all harvests

The harvest of all harvests

It has been an epic year of harvesting crops, herbs, and seeds. Students are involved in every step of this process and it really helps them see the full cycle of gardening.

Bay leaves & rosemary

Bay leaves & rosemary

They have collected so many things including: pizza herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, summer savory), bay leaves, mint, fennel (fennel infused salt coming!), calendula flowers (for medicinal balm), seeds (pumpkin, beans, onion, radish), and garlic. This is after all of our harvesting we have already done this year!

Stem by stem, herb by herb

Stem by stem, herb by herb

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Connecting Kids & Seniors


We have a parent Laura who is doing a wonderful project this year where she takes students to the Esperanza Senior Apartments. Students first visit the food bank with deliveries for the seniors who live there. Students then get to visit with them (and in the process brighten some senior’s days I’m sure!).


Students also get a chance to harvest some Orca greens and take them to the food bank when they do their pickup. These experiential adventures really have an impact on students. Laura has described in depth the smiles and good times had by both students and seniors. Everyone benefits!


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Fall root salad


Kids eating beets, yes it happens around here. If this class is not delicious, then I would be in trouble. It has to be delicious, engaging, fun, and help expose kids to new and exciting foods. Today was all beets, carrots, and apples (left over from harvest fest).


Having kids prepare foods from garden to bowl is a special experience. It is my belief that years of these experiences at Orca could help create a lifelong connection to nutrition and garden foods. We shall see huh?


Until then, it looks like a thumbs up!

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Middle School Social Justice Films

One of the most amazing teachers here at Orca is Donte Felder. I have always seen parallels between the way we try to merge critical thinking and creative thinking with students. It has been my honor to get the chance to do a weekly session with his middle school social studies class. I have been helping them develop films related to social justice themes that they care about.


These students are doing an incredible video on police brutality. They took what they see in the community and want to use their voice to make a statement on it.


These ladies are doing a very sad and moving story of bullying that has gone too far. Their writing is complex and engaging.


How about a rap & song about the A Kid A Can A Month program we have this year at Orca?? These ladies have done it.


The profound insight of all these student’s projects speak to how meaningful activities like this can be for developing minds.

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Mint harvesting & Bouquets


We are on a quest to get every last delicious and sweet smelling piece of the garden enjoyed before these dreaded rains set in. We were on a quest today to get them to harvest all possible mint out of the garden to be dried in the greenhouse.


They then got to pull all the leaves off of mint already dried in the greenhouse. This gave them a chance to make mint tea bags to take home & enjoy a hot cup o’ tea. Full circle!! Wowser….


If that wasn’t enough, we picked bouquets of all types of good stuff like fruit sage, cosmos, mint, dahlias, and more…


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Soup Investigations and Stone Soup folktales


Grades K-2 got to enjoy fresh Orca soup while hearing the story of Stone Soup. This epic folktale tells the story of two homeless people wandering into a village and helping gather everyone together as a community and make a soup that they eat together.


Eventually kids grow out of our fun ritual of making stone soup and telling/retelling the folktale itself. So then we are off to investigations of soup labels of conventional soup and comparing it with Orca’s local & organic version.


They had to highlight the ingredients they actually know and then create a fraction after adding up all the ingredients. This is confusing! Ingredients inside ingredients inside ingredients. But through this confusion we see the difference between our soup that traveled 50 feet with minimal ingredients VS. a Campbell’s soup from Camden NJ and full of who knows what.


They then had to write two specific points for why they think Orca soup may be better for them and the environment. There were some amazing reflections.

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Middle School art & garden


I have gotten the awesome opportunity to work with Stacy’s middle school classes once a week. We are fusing art with garden education & social justice.


They picked a native plant to sketch in the garden and paint a sign for it in the art room. They really created some fabulous informational and artistic signs that can be seen on the northeast campus of Orca.


Then after we placed the signs in the ground they got a chance to enjoy some hot tea on a Fall day and even make a mint teabag to take home.


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