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Della Terra

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. DiAnn Service
DiAnn Service

 

Classroom Highlights

All levels 4/15/22

It has been fun to hear about the successes (or failures) from the people who are caring for tomato plants at their homes. If you have a tomato plant at your house from school, know that it could get very tall. In the greenhouse we are continuing to care for the plants we have. There are tomato plants, lettuce, basil, and various flowers that have been started. Soon we will get outdoors and start planting in the raised beds.

All Levels 2/23/22

February is lovely because we get to return to the greenhouse! We have been busy making soil blocks, sorting seeds we saved from last year’s harvest, and practicing cleaning up. We have tomatoes and peppers starting to sprout. We even experimented to see if our old seeds would sprout. We are still waiting on some of them! We have also discussed whether or not snow is helpful to grow seeds. What do you think?

All Levels 1/27/22

When the cold weather has settled in and the snow covers everything, it can be difficult to think about gardening. This is the time of year when students pour over seed catalogs, make wish lists, and generate “dream gardens.” The ideas that people have come up with that they want to grow are endless. We think about our space, when we want to be able to harvest, and what we like to eat when we are out in the garden. These thoughts help drive what we want to grow in the garden this spring. Soon enough we will be back in the greenhouse getting soil on our hands!

Upper Elementary 11/17/21

Continuing our work on where carbon is stored in the world and how it moves, the lesson this month starts with: What is matter? How does the matter gather together to form a tree? People used to think that plants “ate soil” and that is how the matter came together to form plants. Thankfully, a scientist decided to test that theory and proved it incorrect! 

One of the stories our elementary students hear is the story of the leaf chart. Within it we see little green creatures doing the process that we know as photosynthesis. Using that chart, and that story, we explore how the carbon dioxide and water molecules reform into carbohydrates and oxygen to both grow a tree and provide oxygen.

Lower Elementary 11/17/21

Winterizing is something we in Northern Michigan are familiar with. Be it our patio furniture, our homes, our vehicles, or our yards, we have experienced winterizing in some way or another. In Della Terra we have highlighted three ways to winterize our garden beds. The first thing we do it pull the weeds. Then we wait a week or so, then we pull weeds again. And repeat….this is to help us have clear garden beds in the spring, free of weeds! The second thing we do is spread a thin layer of compost over the top of the garden bed. This is to improve our soil quality and to help the plants thrive. The last thing we do is cover the beds with mulch. Sometimes mulch is wood chips, but here at school, we up-cycle our fall leaves! All of these attributes together help prepare our gardens for spring planting. 

 

Upper Elementary 10/27/21

Reliably, the garden shares with us the transition of seasons. It seems that there are more than 4 seasons when working in a garden. We know that winter is on its way because the calendar tells us so. There are still blossoms on the tomato plants, but knowing that winter is coming, and there is work to do, we pull the plants out of the soil with a small apology. So goes the work of a fall garden.

Continuing our conversation about carbon and where it exists, and how it moves, we remind ourselves about compost this month. The Edible Schoolyard in Berkley, California, shares a great visual about “compost cake.” There is a carbon layer, a nitrogen layer, a manure layer (we don’t have this currently), a water layer, and mixed in is air. All of these layers work together with the FBI to create compost. In this case, the FBI are Fungi, Bacteria, and Invertebrates. The Edible Schoolyard uses a pile compost system. In our school garden we have three compost bins. It is interesting to see the different ways compost can happen. We learned last month that just a thin layer of compost can really kick in the cycle of moving carbon from the air into the soil.

Lower Elementary 10/27/21

Reliably, the garden shares with us the transition of seasons. It seems that there are more than 4 seasons when working in a garden. We know that winter is on its way because the calendar tells us so. There are still blossoms on the tomato plants, but knowing that winter is coming, and there is work to do, we pull the plants out of the soil with a small apology. So goes the work of a fall garden.

This month we are taking a close look at what is in soil. We are getting out our magnifying glasses and searching for the parts of soil. We have spotted sand, rocks, roots, twigs, baby insects, worms. We have noticed that soil is dry or wet and that tells us about how much water is in the soil. We have compared soil from one location to another location. We are also observing the changing of the garden during the fall. There is always something happening in the garden!

Upper Elementary 9/29/21

Where on earth is carbon found? What is a carbon cycle? How does our work in the gardens play a role in the carbon cycle? These are some big ideas that we are talking about in Della Terra with the upper elementary students. I enjoy being able to make connections between our time in the garden classroom and lessons that they have in their classroom. We remember the timeline of life and when the plants came out of the water and figured out how to live on land. We are grateful that the plants started the cycle of taking the carbon out of the air and moving it into the ground to improve the soil. We remember the leaf chart where we can imagine the big work that goes on in the leaf to help the leaf create food for the plant. We have also enjoyed this lovely fall weather and the chance to get into our garden and explore. 

Lower Elementary 9/29/21

With magnifying glass in hand, students explored the garden behind the greenhouse. The goal? What insects are in our garden right now? We have found praying mantis, ambush bugs, and so many bees and wasps. One day the weather was cold and rainy. During this time we searched and searched for insects. We found so many bees seeking shelter under the succulent plants that it was fun to count and see how these insects made it through the cool wet weather. 

The other part of our time together was used to ask ourselves the question, “Is a seed alive?” We discussed what makes something alive. This is a harder question than you might think! Then we spent some time dissecting a bean seed to identify a seed coat, seed food, and the baby plant inside. 

We are so thankful for the warm fall so we can explore our garden to the fullest!