Archive for May, 2016

New south garden at Orca coming!

We had a local graduate student Selena approach us and ask if we were willing to work on some type of group learning project w/ youth. She is getting an MBA in Sustainable Systems at Pinchot University. I instantly thought of this area on the south side of the school that has always been unused and overgrown. It is a fenced in area full of nasty knotweed and old tree stumps.DSC_01836th graders were perfect for this project because of their endless energy and great group project gumption. After one day it experienced an amazing transformation!


We hope to plant a lot of food here for the food bank. It was really great to explore the idea of not only performing  selfless service projects & volunteering- but also the idea of using vacant spaces for urban farming in cities.


Seeing 6th graders remove rotten stumps using old fashioned elbow grease and extra superhuman tween strength was awesome!


There was some serious compost created from this project! We hope to plant and see this space grow in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!


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Kindergarten Salad

Is there any joy greater than seeing a kid pick a salad from the garden, cut it up, and actually enjoy eating it? I think not. We had some serious heads of romaine lettuce in the garden- so it was salad time.


These kids really liked it- I mean REALLY liked it! I hear a lot from parents about how hard it is to get their kids to eat greens and fresh foods but here- no problem at all!


They did all the preparing with butter knives (safe!) and then some peeling of some organic carrots I brought in. We added a little Annie’sGoddess dressing and it was a hit! It is always nice to have kids make a little card that lets them get artistically creative and remind them to share with their parents the fun time that we had.



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Non-stop planting!

It’s been amazing this last couple of weeks to have kids plant beautiful tomatoes that they grew from seed (of course it will be even cooler when they pick those fruits in the fall).DSC_0268.JPGThe kids have worked so hard to grow all these plants and it has been great to spend our entire garden times planting, mulching, planting, and mulching!

DSC_0273The garden beds on the playground have gotten some tomatoes planted in them and a giant future pumpkin patch. Now if we can get kids to realize that that hay is mulch & not a hay ride wonderland! Either way, the general feeling in the spring air is one of excitement and relief when kids step outside of the classroom and fluorescent lights, and start planting.


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Rhubarb Spritzers!

Another first here at the Orca Garden- putting our fabulous rhubarb to work in a delicious and cool bubbly drink on this warm spring day.


To be honest- the reception was mixed with this drink, maybe more so than usual. But the essential element of this is to try new things and especially fun & exotic plants in the garden here. It seems to help to add more simple syrup/sugar but that’s not what this garden is about! But sometimes a little sweetener goes a long way.


First you have to harvest your rhubarb and blend it in a blender till it is smooth. Pour into a sauce pan and cook for a solid 10 minutes. Then strain it into a pitcher that should end up looking like a pink juice. You can make some simple syrup by cooking up sugar and water and letting cool down. We got a cool new soda stream machine in here that made us some fast and affordable fizzy water. One parts of each should make a decent spritzer but you may want to sweeten to taste.DSC_0227





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Free Plants for schools and community gardens!

Orca has a huge social justice focus and part of that is the garden’s concerted effort to help other schools and community gardens grow as much food as possible. We never sell all of our plants, so we make sure that the leftovers get planted in our greater community. Share this blog post with anyone involved with a food bank, school, community garden, or other non-profit and we will hook them up! Just send an email to Anthony Warner (Orca Garden Coordinator) to get your awesome supply of organic tomatoes, basil, kale, broccoli, and more!


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Calendula Balm


The bees and kindergarteners were buzzing today as we finally put our months long collection of dried calendula flowers to work. We made our infamous Orca Calendula Balm.  The balm is great for cuts, scrapes, and bug bites. Students drafted up the recipes while I blended the calendula flowers in a blender and added the calendula dust to olive oil and beeswax that was being heated up in the greenhouse.


The idea of growing your own medicine is pretty cool. Students have collected these flowers for months because it takes a lot to make this medicinal balm. They finally got their own container today. Yay!


This is a fairly inexpensive activity and is a special way to carry the garden with you just about anywhere.

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Orca Garden Cookbook!

It’s finally here! The first ever 36 page cookbook of all Orca garden recipes! There are 15 delicious Orca favorites and traditions in here. You can make stone soup, Orca french fries, root salad, Orca slaw, fried green tomatoes, fennel salt, and many more! There are so many people to thank for making this happen. Thank you to all the students who drew fabulous drawings for the recipes, Orca parent Bevin for her creative input and direction, and MOST THANKS to our designer and Orca parent Light for drafting up something so beautiful. Pick one up from the greenhouse anytime after school and hang tight because they will be available in the office SOON!


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Plant sale 2016 Success!

Thanks to all the supporters of our annual plant sale. It just may turn out to be our largest grossing sale yet and a true example of community based social enterprise. Big thanks to all the parents, students, vendors, and supporters for getting all these amazing plants out into our greater community. It is kind of mind boggling to think of these plants producing thousands of pounds of fresh local food. Thank you so much for your support!

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