|Della Terra is a part of our health education program which includes physical education and kitchen classroom. Della Terra is the part that presents children with opportunities to learn about gardening. Connecting the children to the land on which we live is a joy. Our grounds at school offer a wonderful classroom in which we can explore, investigate, and grow. Please let me know if you have any questions about your child's time in Della Terra.|
February 21, 2019
What to do when there is 2 feet of snow on the ground and you want to think about gardening? Talk about winter sowing! Winter sowing is preparing containers (we use 1/2 gallon milk jugs from the school kitchen) with soil and seeds. Then you place the jugs outdoors in the cold winter weather and wait for them to germinate when they are ready. We are planting milkweed seeds. Once the plants come up we will plant the milkweed around campus to invite Monarch butterflies. Other winter gardening tasks include; covering raised beds outdoors to see if we can melt the snow faster on those raised beds compared to the raised beds that are not covered, melting snow in the greenhouse to water the plants in the greenhouse raised beds, monitoring the snow build up along the greenhouse and reminding our classmates to stay off the snow there so no holes are poked in the plastic, starting seeds indoors, and dreaming of our spring planting.
February 7, 2019
Recently I was able to attend the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference. On Friday was what is called "Farm School" and I listened to farmer from Sweden talk about how he makes his small farm work. Listening to this man, who farms at a more northern latitude than here at school, talk about how to get the most out of his weeks, reminded me of what we are doing at school. We are learning how to grow food in the amount of space we have in such a way that the students get to be a part of the entire process. This requires creative conversations and ideas since most of our "growing season" is between June and September. It is part of the joy of being able to do what I do with your children every day. We will continue to talk about growing zones (Why can't we have orange trees?) and harvesting, seed choices and sunlight. Hopefully they will take away a little of the knowledge that through their own action they can have a say in what they eat and what the people around them eat. If not, at least they will get dirty, think creatively, be able to try out new ideas, and experiences both failures and successes. I am thankful to have attended the farm conference. It was good to listen to the farmer from Sweden. It was also good to be in a space where everyone is talking about the best ways to grow food. Just like we do at school.
January 17, 2019
In December and in January we worked on designing gardens. December involved designing our "dream gardens" with many varieties of fruits and vegetables growing alongside one another.
In January we are thinking about, "What do we want to plant in our school gardens this year?" In order to do this we reflect on what we grew last year, what went well, what didn't, and what do we want to include again this year. Some students really enjoy having a say in what we grow. So far some of the ideas include: carrots, cucumbers, giant pumpkins, a field of corn, peas, cabbage, white pumpkins, blueberries, raspberries, and peppers.
As we choose our vegetables we look at length of season (we have about 90 days of outdoor growing time before it gets dark and cold) and ask whether or not this plant needs to be started in the greenhouse.
Before we know it we will be starting seeds in the greenhouse!
November 8, 2018
November is a month of changing weather. We started the month with 50 degree temps and sunshine and move in and out of snow without much notice. This makes being outside either warm or cold without much in between.
This month we have observed how fall seeds travel. Here on campus we have quite a few "hitchhikers" this time of year. We also observed how a carrot goes to seed (Step 1: forget about some carrots in your garden over the winter...) and how much it looks like a Queen Anne's Lace. We also noticed that the carrot seeds seem to be hitchhikers, but they also fall easily. Maybe seeds move in more than one way?
We have also worked very hard on preparing the beds for spring. Some DT groups have shoveled and moved many wheelbarrows full of soil. This soil has been used to top off established beds and to fill up beds that need a little more soil.
All this hard work we are putting in this fall should help us be able to start planting our beds as soon as the soil is workable in the spring!
October 11, 2018
In the month of October we are watching our plants in the gardens wither and the leaves on the trees change color. This is a good time of year to talk about how seeds disperse themselves. There is a great chart that helps tell the story of some ways seeds move around. There is a picture of parachutes (milkweed and dandelions) and helicopters, another of a volcano exploding (lilies), a boat floating on the water (coconuts), and a car (burrs). You can also ask your child about what the airplane represents! We are talking about collecting seeds. There are many people who are saving seeds. Some of the reasons people save seeds are: cost, saving seeds is less expensive than purchasing seeds, being able to enjoy the plants that you like, and one important point is that saving seeds can help preserve the diversity in the types of food we have to eat.
At the end of October we will have a work bee to help ready the gardens for the winter. I hope to see you there
September 13, 2018
Della Terra is formatted a bit differently this year. One of my goals was to have the children see the different stages of the garden as the year progresses. This year everyone (elementary) will have Della Terra about once a month, or every 4 weeks.
September is the beginning of transition time in the garden. Many of the plants are still going strong, yet some are beginning to wane as we have less and less sunlight each day. This month in Della Terra we are reviewing expectations we have for one another as we spend time learning about the food we eat and how to grow it.
We are also beginning to think about what goals do we have for our gardens this year. Through garden tours we are exploring what worked this past year and what didn't. As we identify these problem areas, later this season we can brainstorm ways to do it better. Gardening is a never-ending series of trial and error, trying and failing, so we can try again. Every year is brand new. I look forward to seeing what this year will bring!