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April 25-28: Recovery & Preparation

Last Friday's GISS-SSE Earth Day left me so high! Then, it took the weekend to clean up and recover... so this past week has been pretty low-key in terms of garden activities. It has also been a preparatory week for good things to come: May Walk&Wheel Month, hatching turkeys & ducks, soil-building & three-sisters gardening, and Mother's Day Mealkits.

On Monday, Sylvia's K-1 class and I hid out in the pitch-black art supplies room and candled the 14 turkey eggs from Ruckle Farm that have been developing in their incubator. We used a super-strong LED flashlight to light up the egg and look at the embryo inside. Amazingly, 13 out of 14 of the eggs are developing and looking healthy! GOBBLE GOBBLE! This is what it looks like:

Afterwards, we trundled outside and munched our way around the Hillside Garden. Both Sylvia's, then Kari's classes were tasked with a scavenger hunt to find and show me five at least edible foods before gobbling them down.

Tuesday, Donna and Janisse's Grades 1-2 classes continued this munching trend, identifying edible flowers, greens, and over seven kinds of mint in the garden. I was hoping that smelling all that mint would calm them down a bit -- this has been a very wiggly and hyper week for everyone!

After school, Justin Byron delivered 25 mulch haybales. These boxy bales are like garden legos, and while some are allocated for a squash/compost terrace, I'm curious what the kids will build with the rest.

Meanwhile, in the background, there's grant accounting, proposals, coordination of future farm field trips (Ruckle, Bullock & Foxglove Farms), fixing stuff, and more...

Wednesday, I took the Fulford Ferry to pick up the Backpack Buddies snack bags. The water shimmered under a blue sky, and I met one of the Stowel Lake Farmers on the ride. We brainstormed wild and local foods for next week's Mothers Day Mealkit, including miners lettuce, yerba buena, bay leaves, and local radishes.

In the afternoon, Heidi's grades 3-4 class enjoyed feeding their four visiting runner ducklings, while watching them splash around in warm water in a kiddie pool. Some students helped me weed creeping buttercup out of a bed in the front food garden. They were satisfied when we finished the job, and the bed was ready for next week's seeds.

Next up, Katharine's Grades 3-4 class was tasked with designing a structure with the haybales, rocks, and clay near the ELF windows in the Hillside Garden. They sketched plans for a giant couch as part of a future lounge and movie area. Then, they built it. Anything's possible! Outdoor movies in the garden would be a great fundraiser!

Thursday morning, I had a lovely visit to Thrifty Foods, where Sandra and also Owen's Dad, the Produce Manager, helped arrange a BC- and Canada-grown menu for the Mother's Day Mealkits to go out next week. I bought enough for the grades 5-6 classes to test the recipes later that day.

Later that morning, Ken and Julie-Ann Ishikawa delivered a truckload of beautifully-composted horse manure for our squash terrace construction next week. Thanks!

At lunchtime, the GISS-SSE ECO Club gathered in the garden storage room, shared our pride and exhaustion about the Earth Day event, and then put together 24 tiny strider bikes with volunteers Michi Main, Nomi, and Carolyn Hopp from Island Pathways' Cycling Salt Spring. We also met with Anna Tokunaga with "Be The Change-Youth Action Network" via zoom, and talked about our next event, this time focused on the greater community, addressing transportation as part of May Walk&Wheel Month & GoByBikeBC Week. What a fantastic group of kids and young adults!

With the Tanya's grades 5-6 and Valeskca's grade 6 classes, we tested the spaghetti sauce recipe for the Mother's Day Mealkit. They were all pretty hyper and I found it challenging to direct so many groups of kids in a cooking project -- from harvesting green garlic, oregano and thyme from the gardens, to chopping vegetables and fruit, to cooking noodles and sauteeing the sauce... I was relieved when they served the plates and everyone relaxed and ate and enjoyed it. I have a lot to learn about organizing older kids on cooking tasks (in a non-rushed and stressful way for me). They suggested we don't add mushrooms and instead add more fresh herbs and garlic... Also, the timing of the noodles and sauce preparation is important.

In between cooking tasks, the students cared for the chickens and weeded, top-dressed, and filled in pollinator and herb plants in the Canoe planter.

Next week, we will candle the Duck Eggs, construct a squash terrace (with old paper towel waste, manure, and haybales), and put together these awesome Mother's Day Mealkits, including local SSI produce, to go home with 100 students on Thursday, May 5th!


- parent volunteers during garden times.

- farmstand (we have $500, wanna build it?)

- toolshed in Hillside Garden

- magical chocolate that fills me with energy and a sense of well-being.

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