Monday, October 17, 2011

Summer Garden Reflections

Blueberries, mixed greens and thyme
As each summer draws to a close, it is always a special time of reflection and anticipation. This summer is no different. It holds many memories, not the least of which is our weekly visits to the BCHMCPS Garden.

When Ken and I first began our visits, we were amazed by the level of involvement and commitment our school families were devoting to tend and harvest our garden’s bounty. We were happy to see our colleagues Nancy Miller, Susie Pease, and Ann Marie Melley working side-by-side with students and parents to care for the plants and produce. We were thrilled with our purchase of cukes, green beans, and swiss chard that we would enjoy throughout the following week.

In subsequent visits, we developed a real excitement of what would be growing, and what would be available for purchase. Each week brought new surprises – blueberries, rainbow carrots, many kinds of potatoes, green beans, cukes, swiss chard, and tomatoes, to name some of the delicious produce that was available.

Even more exciting was the interaction we were lucky enough to see of parents, students, and community members, as they worked together, sharing information about the planting process and harvesting tasks, talking about great recipes, and making plans for future plantings and experiences that could be shared with students during the school year, with great anticipation. We looked forward to seeing people who had become friends as a result of our visits. We also looked forward to seeing the teachable moments that were constantly happening around us.

It will be so interesting to follow our BCHMCPS Garden adventures, see what new crops will be flourishing, and watch the learning potential continue to unfold for our school family. A huge thank you to the volunteers who spearheaded this project, and continue to provide our school community with an invaluable experience. We are so very lucky to have such dedicated families supporting our students and school endeavors.

~Mr. and Mrs. Keenan

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Morning in the Garden

Today was a fabulous day with community members and school families sharing in harvesting the bounty of fruits and vegetables.  Today we picked blueberries, swiss chard, green beans and 64 cucumbers.  Our beautiful mixed greens and beets were picked too.  They are done for this growing season.  However, we plan to plant some more mixed greens for a Fall crop once school resumes. 

Yet, our growing season is far from over.  We still have tomatoes, herbs, carrots, and potatoes as well as cotton and pigeon peas on their way!  Don't forget to stop on by Tuesdays and Fridays from 8am -10am to pick up your organic locally grown produce for suggested donations.  We have also been extremely fortunate to donate weekly produce from the garden to our local homeless shelter, The Noah Shelter, in Hyannis around the corner from the school. 

We are having a fantastic first year!  Please stop by if you have the time.  We love visitors!

Photo Credit: MJ Keenan

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Help Wanted

What do they say about the best laid plans? 

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Recreation Division will be taking this summer off volunteering in the garden.  Therefore, we are going to need some help!  Also, because of our summer volunteer crew as it currently exists, we have decided to, for now, postpone selling at the Farmer's Market.  However, during our volunteer hours we will have fresh picked produce available for suggested donations.  This website will keep you up to date as to what is in season.  Feel free to drop by on one of those days and bring home some fresh produce.  No volunteering necessary to take home produce.

Summer Volunteer Schedule

No skills are necessary.  We will train you!  The garden will only be workable on our scheduled dates.

Watering will occur on Monday and Thursday mornings throughout the summer.

Volunteer days will be on the following dates and are subject to change.  Please check this website for updates before you come.  Volunteering will be cancelled due to rain.

The hours for all days will be the same 8am-10am. 

June 28
July 5, 12, 26
August 2, 16, 23, 30

July 1, 8, 22, 29
August 12, 19, 26

July 16
August 6

We hope that you and your family can join us!  We are going to need all the help we can get in order to be successful.  Thank you and we hope to see you there!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Planting Day

Tool and seeds wait for volunteers

 It was a beautiful June Monday morning. The day had arrived.  In every classroom, students had started from seed various vegetable plants.  Now, three weeks old with no further danger of frost, the seedlings were transplanted  by the students into the garden.

Swiss chard

The garden had already been planted with seedlings generously donated by the Cape Cod Organic Farm and blueberry bushes and strawberries donated by Country Garden.  Sixteen classrooms journeyed into our edible classroom that day.


Volunteers young and old assisted over 350 students transfer their classroom seedlings.  We were also joined by Farmer Emily from the Cape Cod Organic Farm.   As expected, some classrooms had greater successes with their seedlings and some classrooms had complete failures.  These were great opportunities for lessons.  We troubleshooted together with the students.  We talked about the hard work and dedication of farmers.  We talked about patience.  We also revisited the life cycle of a seed.  Despite some classroom growing problem, every student planted a seedling thanks to cucumber and bean seedlings donated by the Cape Cod Organic Farm.

Tiny hands plant a bean

 Techniques to planting seedlings were learned by every student that day and by some novice volunteers.  It was great fun to see so many tiny hands do such powerful work!

Tomato bed

After planting, the students were given tours of the garden.  They were all so excited, asking questions and eager to learn.  The day was very rewarding.

Touching the thyme

The best part of the tour was when the students discovered the fresh thyme beds, or as they called them the "pizza plants". 

Listening to directions

Mixed greens

Today, the school is having their field day.  Yesterday, we harvested one bed of our mixed greens lettuce for a tossed salad and hamburger toppings.  I think the cafeteria ladies were impressed!  Monday we will harvest the Swiss Chard for that day's lunch.  The garden has been successful in many ways.  I cannot wait to share more experiences with you about our growing season!

Photo Credits:  M.Caughey

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Feathered Heroines to the Resue

Three Silkie Bantams enjoy a breakfast of bugs
Termites were found in one of the new planting beds at the school.  As we are practicing organic gardening techniques, it was only natural to think of the chickens to help eradicate these unwanted pests.  My friend who owns the farm in Cotuit arrived around 9:30am with a large wire dog crate and three Silkie Bantam chickens. 

We stirred up the soil and then placed the cage inside the raised bed with the chickens inside.  We kept the chickens caged for their safety and to help them focus on the immediate task at hand.  Within seconds of being in the enclosure they got to work.  As they dined on their delicious breakfast of termites, students came outside to see the chickens busy at work.

While the chickens did their part, we planted strawberries, beets and potatos.  Ever so often, we lifted the cage and retilled the soil to unearth a fresh batch of termites.  Soon enough, the chickens were full.  Their crops became pendulous and we knew that they had done their job. 
You can find more pictures in today's copy of the Cape Cod Times on page A3.
Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds- New Speaker Added

We are pleased to announce that Dean Sherman will be joining our lecturers for our "Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds" program.  He will be providing educational lectures on physical activity to both children and adults.  We are currently working on scheduling lectures sometime in June.  Here is his biography.

Dean Sherman, PT, MPT, COMT, CEAS, VRT, CCCE/CI, a Cape Cod native, was raised in a family of runners and outdoor enthusiasts, engaging in free running, orienteering, rock climbing, lacrosse, rugby, volleyball, kayaking, and snowshoeing. He was accepted into the University of New England’s prestigious Physical Therapy program, graduating with specialties in manual orthopaedics, pediatrics, and gait rehabilitation. He continued in post doctoral work in the area of differential medicine and manual therapy. Dean then worked with Olympic hopefuls, professional athletes, and Elite Runners alike at Kennebunk Physical Therapy on the Maine Coast. He then joined the world renowned staff at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where he specialized in restoring gait and rehabilitating children with everything from congenital disorders to amputations.

In 2004, he returned to Cape Cod and began running a prominent Novacare Rehabilitation clinic in South Dennis, where he rejoined his local community, developing injury prevention programs for runners, contact sports, and weekend warriors alike. He developed new flexibility approaches for sport specific conditioning, and has become a consultant for multiple companies, municipalities, professionals, and sports leagues. Dean Sherman also has constructed an injury prevention and emergency sports medicine program for the Cape Cod Challenge Cup Soccer Tournament, now for the fifth year providing a wide range of services to over two hundred soccer teams. This program covers multiple sites, serving over 5,000 athletes, utilizing clinicians and equipment along with Novacare Rehabilitation’s and Select Physical Therapy’s Mobile Sports Medicine Clinic.

Dean is currently developing new programs and specialties for Novacare Rehabilitation as well as providing training to Physical Therapists as the clinical leader for the Cape and Islands. His clinic, one of 947 nation wide, provides specialized Physical Therapy, injury recovery, and post surgical rehabilitation; covering sports therapy, balance/agility/power rehab, work conditioning, vestibular rehabilitation, maxillofacial rehab, post-oncology therapy, pediatrics, women’s health, and geriatric rehabilitation. He has become an ergonomic specialist, holding a certification from the Back School of Atlanta, as well as being a member of the Orthopaedic and Sports specialty sections of the American Physical Therapy Association and National Sports & Conditioning Association. He is a Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist recognized by OSHA/DOL and a physical tactics instructor. He is also undergoing expansion of his clinic and continues to train Physical Therapists, consults and lectures often, and provides educational series to surgeons, companies, organizations, schools, and physician groups.

Dean has lately been creating activity-specific injury prevention and conditioning programming for the Dennis-Yarmouth High School Athletic Department, local Police and Fire Services, and Cape Cod businesses and factories. He continues to provide ergonomics, renovation, and productivity/retasking consulting to individuals and companies across New England. He has recently completed an Orthopaedic Manual Therapy degree program from the Ola Grimsby Institute of Norway to become a Credentialed Orthopaedic Manual Therapist and specialist in Scientific Therapeutic Exercise Prescription. He resides in Yarmouthport, Cape Cod, Massachusetts with his loving wife Shannon, a Medical-Surgical RN.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Garden Dedication Plans

Last night, I went to the school committee meeting in order to formally present our community's desire to dedicated The Garden at BCHMCPS to retiring principal, Ken Keenan.  Here is the public comment that I made at the school committee meeting.

My son has had the privilege of attending the elementary charter school when it was in Marstons Mills and we followed it across town to the old Hyannis East building.  I was asked in the fall of 2010 to become the Project Coordinator for a new endeavor between the school, the Barnstable Recreation Division and the Mid-Cape Farmer’s Market. It was to create an organic school based garden.

Since then, the Garden has become a reality. The garden’s perimeter measures 245 linear feet. It will connect over 400 children of diverse demographics and socioeconomic status to the outdoors and nature. With more than 30 raised beds, The Garden at BCHMCPS will contain assorted organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Currently planned crops include tomatoes, various potatoes, beans, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, lettuces, cucumbers and herbs. These will be planted, harvested and sold weekly at the Mid-Cape Farmer’s Market throughout the year in the HYCC’s parking lot, adjacent to the school. Crops will be in production during the Spring, Summer and Fall months

The garden offers learning on multiple levels. Some of the learning opportunities provided by The Garden at BCHMCPS include discovering where food comes from, composting and worm farming, agricultural techniques and skills, responsibility, financial aspects of running a business, counting and sorting crops, art opportunities, journal keeping, problem solving, teamwork and building relationships. In addition to these goals, we are also attempting to combat childhood obesity and encourage children to make healthier dietary choices. We plan to integrate produce from the garden into our school’s lunches, provide tastings and host guest chefs for healthy cooking demonstrations.

Our leadership team is comprised of members of the health care field, local farmers, landscapers, educators, various school personnel including the head of Dining Services and School Facilities manager, local community volunteers, town officials and master gardeners. In addition, we are fortunate to have the support and partnership of local businesses including Emerald Physicians, Bass River Pediatrics, Massachusetts Audubon-Long Pasture, Ocean Song Farm, Cape Cod Organic Farm, Country Gardens, Barnstable County’s Healthy Connected Cape Cod Project, AmeriCorps, Slow Food, and The Cape Cod Organic Gardeners, Reliable Fencing and Pine Harbor Sheds.

Over the course of our planning, it soon became evident that our work with the garden has mirrored the work and accomplishments of Mr. Keenan’s long career within the Barnstable school system. Through his dedication and commitment to the schools, he has helped to shape and form the schooling experience in Barnstable.

When he first began at the charter school some years ago, he took the newly formed school from its beginnings and transformed it into a success story to be proud of. Like planting seeds and watching them grow, he nurtured the students, faculty and staff in a positive educational environment with guidance and support. When it was time to move across town, with the utmost care, he enthusiastically led us into the unknown. Our school is thriving. Our enrollment is at capacity and waiting lists exist.
Our Garden is in its beginning stages. Mr. Keenan is at the end of his career in the Barnstable School system. It is the desires of the school community, students, the garden committee, faculty and staff that we dedicate our Garden to Mr. Keenan. It is symbolic of his work within the schools. It mirrors his career. Mr. Keenan is a role model and his dedication to the students and the school should be recognized.

As we till the soil, we hope that the garden dedication will serve to remind us of Mr. Keenan’s legacy. It will serve to remind us what we can achieve with hard work. Remind us about patience; remind us about unity and partnerships. It will remind us of the impact that he has had on thousands of individuals who have had the pleasure of working with him.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Teacher's Perspective

BCHMCPS students lend a hand

The Garden kick-off day was here! I was so excited to be participating in such an important event for our school community. When I arrived at our school I was amazed to see a group of workers already totally engaged in their tasks, working side-by-side, embracing the effort and spirit of the day. Students, staff, parents, and community members worked together with support, laughter, joy, and a true feeling of equal partnership as they labored together, helping each other to create such an important gift for our school and community family.

As I walked around taking photographs, I was struck by the power of the collaboration I was fortunate enough to witness. Students from all grade levels were represented in the effort, working together, forming new friendships, sharing their excitement about working in the garden, talking about what they might like to plant. Students were everywhere – working at the craft table, raking woodchips, shoveling topsoil, spreading mulch, helping to herd the goats, and so much more! Kindergarteners with third graders, students forming new connections, our school family strengthening and connecting as we shared the common goal of building a garden.

I was also struck by the connections being made by parents and community members. Everywhere I looked there were people who were once strangers, now working side-by-side, chatting, getting to know each other, supporting and helping each other, and extending their own ties to our school family. New friendships were sprouting along with the raised beds. It was becoming apparent to me that this garden would be growing so much more than produce. When people who were once strangers saw each other at school, they would now be familiar faces.

As an educator, I was struck by the amazing opportunities that garden project was providing us with. Virtually every core subject could be explored through the garden experience – keeping journals, charting growth, writing reflections, reading and researching information about plantings, creating artistic responses to the experience, and so much more. The possibilities were endless, and tremendously exciting.

Finally, I was struck by the power a project has to create a common ground, bringing together a diverse group of people to work on an equal footing, unifying people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, from all ages. I was truly moved to see the unity fostered by people working shoulder-to-shoulder in an effort to create a unique place of growth, nurturing, and harmony for our children and our community. Thank you to everyone who worked so thoughtfully and diligently to create our special place of growth and education. It will be a permanent symbol of what a community can do when they come together as one.

--Mrs. Keenan

Teacher of the Multi-Age Class at BCHMCPS

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mission Accomplished

A final view of our achievements

This morning at the Kick-Off,  the community at large came out to support the building of our garden.  In four hours, we built 30 raised beds from scratch, filled the beds with soil and compost, woodchipped the majority of garden pathways and mulched the school's front flower beds.  We had a great day and will be compiling photos and feature some guest bloggers to write about their first hand experiences. Thank you everyone who turned out today!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Silent Auction

Thank you all who supported our garden.  We would not be here without you!  We decided to keep the details of our auction on-line so you could still enjoy viewing the generous donations from our community.


Cape Cod Beer Private Tour and Tasting
 Value $100

This certificate entitles six people to a private tour of the brewery and tasting.  This would make for a great date night with friends or a night out with the ladies or guys.  It would also allow you to sample some of the best beer on Cape Cod.

Children’s Nature Basket
Value $30 

Packed with goodies for exploring nature this basket is filled with great activities for the Spring. It includes a child’s apron, plush bee toy, bug collecting kits, a festive pinwheel, and activity books.   This would also make a fantastic gift for someone you know.

Edible Cape Cod
Value $50

This item includes a signed copy of the book Edible by Tracey Ryder and Carol Topalian and a lovely broad brimmed gardening hat

Southwest Basket
Value $50

Enjoy an escape to the Southwest with a signed copy of Sol Y Sombra by Steve Brown, two glass cactus motif margarita glasses, a festive bowl, chips and salsa.

Outdoor Experience
Value $65

 This basket includes a stylish collapsible shopping tote, a sweet pepper planting kits, an adorable terra cot rustic jug style birdhouse and a signed copy of Sol Y Sombra by Steve Brown.

Gardening Basket
Value $25

You will get a head start on your garden this year.  Included in this basket are gardening gloves, garden pruners and assorted vegetable and wildflower seeds.

Close to Home
Value $35
This item includes a beautiful metal fruit bowl with a banana hook and a copy of Cooking Close to Home by Diane Imrie and Richard Jarmusz

Maffei Landscaping
$100 gift certificate for lawn mowing

Joyce Landscaping
$135 Value
 3 yards of dark pine bark mulch-delivered to Barnstable, Mashpee, Sandwich or Yarmouth

Trader Joes Gift Basket
Value $40

Everyone loves our neighborhood Trader Joes! This is a fantastic time to sample some new items and enjoysome old favorites.

UPDATED 4/16/11 3:24pm

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Our Thermometer is Rising!

Today was a great day!  We received over $400 in cash donations today.  It was such a great feeling to check our mailbox at the school and be surprised with so many individual and corporate sponsorships.  We have almost raised enough money to build the raised beds for our garden.  We need to raise about $300 more over the next week and a half.  We are optimistic!  If you haven't taken a look in a while, we have listed all who have contributed on our web page's "Donor List".  We are incredibly grateful to all who have given so far.  Your contributions, whether product or financial, will directly impact over 400 children this year alone.  Thank you so much for everything and let's continue to watch our thermometer fill with green!  Our next major purchase will be our garden shed.

Thank you!  We appreciate all of your generosity!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Flyers Go Home Today

Kick-Off Celebration
The Garden at BCHMCPS
Located at
165 Bearses Way~ Hyannis

In partnership with

Barnstable Community Horace Mann Charter Public School
Hyannis Youth Community Center
Mid-Cape Farmer’s Market

All are Welcome

Come out for a fun day with friends and family!

Saturday, April 16
8:00am - 12:00pm

Help build raised garden beds with players from
The Cape Cod Cubs and The Cape Cod Barons

Enjoy refreshments

Visit with
 baby goats, chickens and “Drumstick”

Decorate and take home your own planter and seeds

Create a snake or worm bookmark

Facepainting/Temporary tattoos

Bid on silent auction items

Special appearance by THE BEAST


Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Garden Wish List

Would you please take a moment and see if you can help in anyway?

Here is what we need for the Kick-Off Celebration and in the future:




●General Handy-Man



●Public Relations/Fundraisers


●Home Depot gift cards to purchase:


Building supplies/hardware/equipment

●Gently used/new tools:






Bamboo stakes

Tomato Cages

●Gardening Gloves—Adult and Children

●Watering Cans

●Garden hoses

●3 Picnic tables with attached benches

●2 Wheelbarrows

●Baskets for harvesting

●Gardening books for Adults and Children

●Metal plant markers

Please email Melissa at if you are able to offer your assistance.

Thank you for your time and generosity.

Over 400 of Barnstable’s children will benefit!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds

Our first lecture series is scheduled for June 1, 2011 at 6:30pm at BCHMCPS.  These lecture series will be held on a quarterly basis and are free.  All community members are welcome to attend.  This one will be for adults and focus on developing healthy eating habits.  Dr. Kumara Sidhartha from Emerald Physicians of Hyannis is leading up the adult portion of our Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds educational lecture series.  More lectures for children and adults involving nutrition and exercise are in the works, so please visit back frequently for updates.  In the meantime, here is Dr. Sidhartha's biography.

Dr.Kumara Sidhartha grew up in Salem, South India.  He graduated from medical school at GMK Medical College in Salem, India in 1995. He moved to the United States when he got accepted for a MD training program. In 2002, he completed the medical residency training at Lincoln Hospital- affiliated with Cornell University, NY. He was ranked in the top 10 percentile in the United States when he got certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 2003. His Swiss medical training in 2008 and 2009 made him a diplomat of European Biological Medicine, a nutrition-centered natural therapeutic philosophy practiced at Paracelsus Klinik in Switzerland. He is certified in Plant-Based Nutrition by Cornell University in NY. Dr.Sidhartha is currently studying Master of Public Health Nutrition, with the distance learning program at University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He is currently in practice as a primary care physician in Cape Cod with special focus on Nutrition. For the past eight years, his patients have benefited from his guidance in changing their diets to prevent and treat chronic diseases. Dr.Sidhartha also teaches Nutrition, Anatomy and Physiology at the Kind Yoga Teacher Training School, a nationally certified institute in Cape Cod. He is the founder and president of the Institute for Inter-Connected Communities in India, a non-profit organization with a vision to create role-model communities which are healthy, resilient, sustainable and self-reliant. He is a member of the American College of Preventive Medicine. He is a member of the American Professional Speakers Association and the World Speakers Association. He does regular public lectures and seminars on nutrition topics in Cape Cod and Boston area in the US and in South India.

Mark your calendars.  This should be a great way to start our series!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It Takes A Village

Seed trays are ready for planting

In this case, it's the seven villages within the town of Barnstable!  Our school is unique and extremely proud to say that we are a school of choice representing students from all seven villages.  As the ground continues to thaw and the buds form on the trees, we are starting our plans to plant seedlings in the classroom.  Over 365 students at our school will be responsible for planting and caring for these tender seedlings.  Once the seeds are planted, they will spend the next few weeks sitting upon window sills listening to the classroom's lessons, as they prepare to emerge from their seeds.  Finally, after 7-10 days of germination, they will spring to life as the most delicate seedlings.  They will continue to grow until they can survive on their own outside.  Late May, when we are free from the dangers of frost, they will take root in the warm rich soil. However, we are not ready for those seedlings just yet, we still have to construct that garden!

Seedlings ready to go outside

As the seeds grow and strengthen inside, outside our community volunteers will get ready to make the garden blueprints a reality.  With lumber, nails, hammers and hardware, the 30 raised beds will be constructed.  Soil enriched with compost and supplements will be shoveled into those beds.  It is a great deal of work.  It is going to take many hands to create this living edible classroom.  However, I know that hard work and dedication will yield "fruits" of our labor. We are going to need volunteers to make this garden a reality.  Every child at our school will be involved in the garden.  By volunteering a couple of hours of your valuable time on April 16th, you will be helping to provide students with lessons from our schoolyard garden that will last their entire lifetime.  Life rarely provides people with volunteering opportunities that impact not only today's generations but tomorrow's,  here is one that I think does just that! 

Raised beds grow tomatos

Photo credits:  Chiot's Run

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tomorrow Night

We just wanted to remind everyone that we are having our first volunteer meeting for The Garden at BCHMCPS.  It will be tomorrow night at 6:30pm at the school located at 165 Bearses Way in Hyannis.  We hope to see you there! All are welcome!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Week Later...

...and we are seeing the children's miniature gardens we planted during our cluster session before the winter break come to life.  Perched upon the windowsill, they have been quietly growing in their miniature greenhouses.  The students are going to be so excited to see them this Friday!

A quick glimpse at our seedlings

Monday, February 28, 2011

Preparations Are Underway

Thank you Edible Cape Cod!
We have started planning our Kick-Off Celebration for The Garden at BCHMCPS.  The community response has been fantastic!  We are even starting to receive donations from local businesses as well.  The support has been amazing and we have decided to add an auction component and bake sale during the Kick-Off to help us raise much needed funds that will make the garden a success this year.  Today, I received a package from Edible Cape Cod.  They have generously donated two beautiful books. Edible is even signed by the authors. 

We have also received donations from Star Market in Hyannis as well as Maffei Landscaping.  We will be creating a page on this website to keep you informed of all the wonderful items that will be available for your bids on April 16th.  Thank you again to our community members for your gracious support.  We would not be here without you!  Please see our new tab "Donor List" at the top of our page to see all those who have generously given to The Garden at BCHMCPS.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Any Thoughts?


If you are like some of us who have been bitten by the gardening bug, then you are looking through seed catalogues and waiting for the ground to thaw. You are searching your yard for signs of Spring as you venture out to retrieve the mail down the driveway.

We too are getting ready to start planning the crops for our new garden.  Our planting goals are to include

~ hardy and easy to grow crops

~crops that are available to pick in Spring, Summer and Fall

~crops that have high yields in small spaces

With these thoughts in mind, we are planning to plant potatoes, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, blueberries, strawberries, flowers, carrots and assorted lettuces.

Is there anything else that you would like to see growing in our garden?

Photo courtesy of Chiot's Run

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Come Outdoors With Us

Did you know that research is now connecting lack of outdoor time to numerous childhood ailments?  These include obesity, depression, stress, diabetes, ADD and poor classroom performance.  Our garden is getting involved and joining others' ideas, efforts and movements around the country.   Partnerships are forming.  Major groups are getting involved to help promote the idea of getting families outdoors.  Today's photo comes to us from one such program, Be Out There, by the National Wildlife Federation.  It has been featured by The Daily Green.

The Garden at BCHMCPS is also doing its part for our school community. We are combining physical activity, thinking skills, art, math, science, teamwork, relationship building, problem solving, journal keeping and opportunities all in our edible outdoor classroom.  It is about new attitudes, new lessons and new ways of thinking.  We believe that much more than plants will grow in our garden.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...

As Spring quickly approaches, the garden is being readied to wake from it's Winter slumber.  Plans are being made for a fabulous Garden Kick-Off event in April.  This is the day, with community support, that we will all roll up our sleeves and get to work constructing the garden.  However, it will not be all work and no play. We plan to have light refreshments, guest animals, Cape Cod Cubs team players and crafts for the kids. 

In order for this event and our new garden to be a success, we are starting to fund raise to help get this garden up and running.  Even though we have plans to recycle and repurpose as many items possible, the harsh reality is that starting a garden does require funding and donations of goods.

Did you know that every little bit does help?  The greatest thing is what may seem insignificant to you, could make a huge difference to the garden.  Would you be willing to donate the change that is loose in your car? Do you have any spare garden tools that you would be willing to part with?  Could you donate an hour of your time each week?  Do you own a truck that could help us transport items?  Do you have a family member in the gardening/landscaping business? Are you a good writer?  Can you bake?  Do you like to pick vegetables?  Are you a good salesperson?  Are you handy?

Supporting the garden is easy, when you think outside the box.  The key to success is not always financial.  Sometimes it is more about the experience and what we can do together as a community. 

Our garden will reach over 400 children this growing season.  The "seeds" we plant in these children will last their lifetime. Won't you consider joining us?

Image courtesy of  tangledwing

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Homes and Gardens

Yesterday in our enrichment cluster, the students were able to plant their own individual flower gardens.  Each student with minimal assistance was able to follow our lead in creating their one of a kind garden.  With their small hands and tiny fingers, they were able to differentiate between the three types of seeds.  They gently filled their mini-pots with peat and soil then poked holes into the center of each filled pot.  They each counted out between 4-6 seeds and gently guided them into the holes.  After replacing the soil around the seeds and a gentle watering, the mini-greenhouses were placed on the classroom windowsill to soak up the sun.

In addition to the planting lesson, the students are also conducting an experiment.  It is a comparison between peat and soil.  We are going to determine which is the best growing medium for our flowers. The students are looking forward to seeing tiny little seedlings emerge from the pots when they return from school vacation.

In a group effort, we also began painting a wooden birdhouse.  The students painted the birdhouse with a variety of colors.  Next week we will continue with decorating the birdhouse and might even do a glass mosaic on another.  The Garden will donate these student created birdhouses to the Friends of BCHMCPS's annual auction.  These birdhouses will help to raise much needed funding to continue enrichment programs at our school.  If you are interested in attending the auction on May 20, 2011 and bidding on these items, please email us and we will be sure to get an invitation to you in the mail.

Thank you Country Gardens for your generous donation of the Children's mini-garden/greenhouse kits.  Thank you Jodi Conway for the wonderful donation of the birdhouse.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Welch's Harvest Grant

Last week we mailed out an application for a grant from Welch's.  If chosen, the garden would be the recipient of between $500 and $1000 of gardening equipment.  We should hear back from them this April. Wish us luck!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sprouting Spuds

Today we revisited the potatoes that we planted last week during our enrichment cluster.  We could not believe our eyes; the potatoes had grown roots and began to emerge as green leaves from the soil.  In a week's time, the students were able to witness first hand the beginning of potato plants.  Did you know that the potato plant was banned from England for several hundred years because eating the leaves made everyone sick at a royal dinner?  They did not know to eat the tuber portion that grew in the ground!

The students were also busy making pomander balls.  They each had the opportunity to push cloves into their own orange.  Once dried, these should make wonderful room fresheners, just like in the Victorian days. 

I am so pleased to see all of the student's eagerness and excitement with what each Friday brings.  Next week, the students will be planting their very own miniature gardens. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Enrichment Cluster

BCHMCPS is unique in that it offers enrichment clusters to all of it's students.  From January to March on six consecutive Friday mornings, over 350 student break off into small educational groups for an hour.  This year the school has over 35 different clusters ranging from cake decorating, photography, fire safety, cup stacking and hip-hop dancing to name a few.  For the first time, The Garden at BCHMCPS is also participating in clusters.

We have completed two week. Our cluster consists of 11 very eager students in grades K-3.  During the first week, we learned about seeds and created seed wreaths.  Last week, we learned about composting.  We built our own worm composter by combining worms, soil, newspaper, egg shells, lettuce and various microorganisms.  The students had a fantastic time and so did we.  This worm composter will transition into our garden this Spring.  Tomorrow, we will be learning about growing zones.  We will be planting potatoes utilizing two different techniques and attempt to grow a pineapple.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

An Introduction

In the Fall of 2010, in a collaborative effort between the Barnstable Community Horace Mann Charter Public School (BCHMCPS), the Hyannis Youth Community Center (HYCC) and the Mid Cape Farmer’s Market, a community garden was initiated.   This garden is the first of its kind on school property in the town of Barnstable.  BCHMCPS serves children in Kindergarten through third grade.  The HYCC serves children ages 5 though 18.

The garden’s perimeter measures 245 linear feet.  It will connect over 400 children of diverse demographics and socioeconomic status to the outdoors and nature.  With more than 30 raised beds, The Garden at BCHMCPS will contain assorted organic vegetables, fruits, and flowers.  Currently planned crops include tomatoes, various potatoes, beans, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, lettuces, flowering bulbs and cucumbers.  These will be planted, harvested and sold weekly at the Mid-Cape Farmer’s Market throughout the year in the HYCC’s parking lot, adjacent to the school.  Crops will be in production during the Spring, Summer and Fall months.  Children from BCHMCPS will be responsible for helping to maintain the garden during the school year.  In the summer, children from the HYCC Recreation Program will maintain the garden. 

The garden offers learning on multiple levels.  Some of the learning opportunities  provided by The Garden at BCHMCPS include discovering where food comes from, composting and worm farming, agricultural techniques and skills, responsibility, financial aspects of running a business, counting and sorting crops, art opportunities, journal keeping, problem solving, teamwork and building relationships.  In addition to these goals, we are also attempting to combat childhood obesity and encourage children to make healthier dietary choices.  We plan to integrate produce from the garden into our school’s lunches, provide tastings and host guest chefs for healthy cooking demonstrations.

Our leadership team is comprised of members of the health care field, local farmers, landscapers, educators, various school personnel including the head of Dining Services and School Facilities manager, local community volunteers, town officials and master gardeners.  In addition, we are fortunate to have the support and partnership of local businesses including Emerald Physicians, Briarpatch Pediatrics, Massachusetts Audubon-Long Pasture, Ocean Song Farm, Country Gardens, and Barnstable County’s Healthy Connected Cape Cod Project.  Our main leadership team meets on a monthly basis. Smaller committees including construction, soil management, planting, composting, maintenance, harvesting, selling, education, finance, public relations and nutrition integration meet during the interim as necessary.

The Garden at BCHMCPS’s long term sustainability comes from collaborative commitments made in our community.  The Garden at BCHMCPS’s vision and goals are supported by the Town of Barnstable, local businesses, community and school volunteers, staff and faculty of the school, local gardening associations, local farmers, Farmer’s Markets, news media and physicians groups.