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.