Categories
Home Gardens Musings Uncategorized

July in our Vermont Garden

Ahhh, July.  In our Vermont garden, July means…

Days that actually feel summery.

sunny-cucumbers

Drought.

Followed (hopefully) by dramatic afternoon thunderstorms (hopefully not too dramatic).

lake-storm

First tastes of beans, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, husk cherries, tomatillos, basil, summer squash, raspberries, and sweet corn.

late-july-harvest

Followed quickly by an overwhelming abundance of beans, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, husk cherries, tomatillos, basil, summer squash, raspberries, and sweet corn.

Saying goodbye to peas and asparagus.  See you next spring!

end-of-pea-season

A chance to try out colorful sunshine-infused recipes I collected in the dark depths of winter.

Rainbow-Salsa-Ingredients

A relief from constant mowing as dry parts of the lawn turn crispy brown.

A proliferation of one garden bug, worm, beetle, or another.

japanese-beetle-harvest

Knowing that the hotter, sweatier, and dirtier I get, the better jumping in the lake will feel.

Lake-Champlain

Categories
Children and Nature School Gardens

Turtle Lane Art and Nature Camp

More camp fun: this month on the beautiful Lake Champlain Waldorf School Campus.  Awesome campers, dedicated energetic and loving counselors, blue skies, lush green fields, breezy pine-scented forests, cool sprinklers, nourishing and delicious snacks, creative art projects, and ever changing sand box creations:

Children's Garden Opening Circle
Children’s Garden Opening Circle
Sandbox Creations
Sandbox Creations
Forest Tent Nature Journaling
Forest Tent Nature Journaling
Felting Bird's Nests with enthusiastic CITs and Counselors
Felting Bird’s Nests with enthusiastic CITs and Counselors
Creative Free Play
Creative Free Play
water-play-and-days-recap
Joyous Water Play and a Day’s Recap
Afternoons full of joy, sun, water, and friends
Afternoons full of fun, sun, water, and friends
Categories
Home Gardens School Gardens Uncategorized

School Gardens in the Summer

Do kids still need or want to be involved in school gardens in communities rich in beautiful natural spaces?  Yes!
Do kids still need or want to be involved in school gardens in communities rich in local food & natural spaces? Yes!

School gardens are great.  They deepen connections between students and their food.  They’re full of real life science, art, math, culture, and writing opportunities.  And of course, they get us outside to do real work and hands-on learning.  But in a place like Vermont, they can be only be started at the very end of the school year, they thrive and flourish during summer vacation, and then the first frost comes soon after the new school year starts.  Many families even have plenty of space to garden at home.  Is it worth it?  What do you do in the summer?

Yes, it’s worth it!  Here are some suggestions for the summer:

Green Thumbs School Garden Camp
Green Thumbs School Garden Campers

-Summer Programming: I’m running two weeks of Green Thumbs School Garden Camp in my town’s school gardens.  The late June and early August sessions, which include numerous opportunities for major kid-powered garden work, are spaced evenly through the summer so the only summer-long weekly task is watering.  Campers have had a blast (read more about our first week by following this link)!  Gardening can actually be quite fun if it’s a choice not a chore, if you’re with your friends, if there’s water and mud play involved, and if you get to eat delicious snacks created from things you grew and picked.

-Tips for Gardening with Kids: Read this past post for some tips for adults working with children in gardens.

-Watering: This is a great way to engage families.  Have individuals or families sign up for a week of watering.  If weather is hot or dry, they are responsible for watering the garden that week.  This spreads the burden out, allows garden coordinators to travel and enjoy their summer, prompts students and their parents visit the garden in the summer, and helps grow the community of support around the garden without anyone getting over burdened.

Many hands make light work when it comes for food preservation!
Many hands make light work when it comes for food preservation!

-Summer Harvest: Summer harvest parties can pick and process food, freezing or canning it for the school year.  Make sure to coordinate with your food service director if you take this route!  Harvest can also be eaten by families who help water and by summer campers.  If you have a food shelf in your community, consider donating the school’s summer produce so that all community members can enjoy local fresh veggies.  If you have a local farmer’s market, engage middle or high school students in selling the produce.  Managing the table requires the mastery of all sorts of mathematical, economic, agricultural, and social skills.  Funds raised can help support future garden projects or can pay students a stipend for the hours they worked.

Garden Maintenance: Yes, we really can do most of our garden maintenance with kids during two weeks of camp.  Admittedly, it does help to avoid being a perfectionist (which I highly recommend if you’re gardening with children!).  In preparation for next week’s camp, I did a site visit to see what needed to be done.  Hopefully the following photos and text can help you if you’re managing your own gardens.  Happy Gardening!

Cut old flower heads off of herbs and other perennials to stimulate new leaves to grow.
Cut old flower heads off of herbs and other perennials to stimulate new leaves to grow.
Build trellises for climbing plants.  What a great engineering challenge for campers!
Harvest peas and pull out old pea plants.  Build trellises for climbing plants. What a great engineering challenge for campers!
Harvest and dry garlic.  Make a mild pesto with garlic, kale and basil.
Harvest and dry garlic. Make a mild pesto with garlic, kale (in background) and basil.
Dead-head edible flowers to stimulate increased future production.  Harvest herbs and flowers for sun tea.
Dead-head edible flowers to stimulate increased future production. Harvest herbs and flowers for sun tea.
Uh oh, MAJOR engineering challenge!  Trellis and sucker tomato jungles.
Uh oh, MAJOR engineering challenge! Trellis and sucker tomato jungle.
Categories
Children and Nature School Gardens Uncategorized

Campers Dig Green Thumbs Camp!

first-dayEight bright-eyed campers arrived at the Charlotte Central School Garden on Monday morning ready for Green Thumbs Garden Camp.  The cool grass was still wet with dew, but the strong sunlight promised a warm summery day. Though few of the campers knew each other, we joined together for our welcoming circle, inventing garden names we would use for the rest of the week.

garden-journal-2Fast friendships and a thriving garden grew from a week that included a balanced mixture of garden work, harvesting, tasting, cooking, storytelling, art, free play, and watering (ourselves and the plants).   We were especially excited by animal visitors, including garter snakes, barn swallows, and plenty of creepy crawly compost creatures.

garden-journalBy Friday, it was impossible to know that many campers had met each other just a few days before.   When we said goodbye on our last day, many campers eagerly exchanged information so they could play with each other again soon.  Campers themselves were transformed – tentative eaters discovered new flavors and food preferences, and each of us deepened our gardening expertise.  The school garden underwent a similarly remarkable transformation.  All twelve raised beds were carefully weeded and planted, newly woven trellises stood tall for our climbing veggies, colorfully illustrated signs labeled each garden patch, painted pots were planted with climbing flowers stood in a row – ready to decorate the side of the new compost shed, and many of the plants had grown noticeably taller!

5th-fence-2

Green Thumbs Camp was lucky to have several community members enrich our experience.  Susan Raber of Springhouse Pottery taught us how to weave willow trellises for our climbing plants.  Vera Simon-Nobes and Michael Haulenbeek of Fifth Fence Farm welcomed us to their farm for a wonderful field trip.  There, we petted sheep, carded wool, spun our own bracelets, and gently held baby chicks!  Deirdre Holmes, Abby Foulk, and CCS Administrators welcomed us to the school and ensured that we had everything we needed for a great week of camp.

Space still remains in August’s camp session!  Green Thumbs Gardening Camp will run for a second week from August 4th through 8th.   Parents of rising 1st through 5th graders are encouraged to find out more by clicking on the poster to the right or at http://www.charlottevt.org/ (click on “recreation,” then “summer camps”).  Questions can be emailed to Tai and Stacy at ccsgreenthumbs@gmail.com.  Read on for some great camper quotes and photos!

I had a good time at garden camp.  I got to learn how to plant things.  I learned a new way to water.  I also got to make awesome garden crafts.  I made new friends, which was fun.  It was great! Maddie, age 10
“I had a good time at garden camp. I got to learn how to plant things. I learned a new way to water. I also got to make awesome garden crafts. I made new friends, which was fun. It was great!”   Maddie, age 10
Garden camp was good because we played in the sprinkler.  We got to dig and weed.  I liked planting. Liam, age 5
“Garden camp was good because we played in the sprinkler. We got to dig and weed. I liked planting.”
Liam, age 5
"Camp was fun! We made different art projects. Most of them were for the garden. I like how we got to have a snack that we made from the garden. We harvested our snack! I liked learning how to plant and weed. I’m going to use the strategies I learned in my own garden. I liked that on the first day I made new friends."
“Camp was fun! We made different art projects. Most of them were for the garden. I like how we got to have a snack that we made from the garden. We harvested our snack! I liked learning how to plant and weed. I’m going to use the strategies I learned in my own garden. I liked that on the first day I made new friends.”
We made signs for the garden and we painted pots.  We read books about the garden.  I liked that.  We also did a lot of planting and made trellises.  That’s good for the garden because the plants can climb up them.  Shana, age 7
“We made signs for the garden and we painted pots. We read books about the garden. I liked that. We also did a lot of planting and made trellises. That’s good for the garden because the plants can climb up them.” Shana, age 7
I liked Garden Camp.  I invented mud balls.  We planted flowers and we had water play. Even though I go here for school I recognized some new things in the garden.  There are trellises to block off the bunnies. We built them! Henry, age 6
“I liked Garden Camp. I invented mud balls. We planted flowers and we had water play. Even though I go here for school I recognized some new things in the garden. There are trellises to block off the bunnies. We built them!” Henry, age 6
Thanks to all the community members who helped enrich camp!
Thanks to all the community members who helped enrich camp!
Categories
Children and Nature Get Involved! School Gardens

Green Thumbs Summer Camp

green-thumbs-logo

Families near Charlotte, VT: Check out the camp I’ll be running this summer in Charlotte School Gardens.  Slots still remain – sign up or help spread the word now!

5-year-olders through 5th graders: Your thumbs will turn green after a week in Charlotte’s school gardens this summer! Play and work with friends to deepen knowledge and boost excitement about vegetables, fruits, seeds, pollination, decomposition, and garden ecosystems. Become an animal lover during our walking field trip to visit sheep at nearby Fifth Fence Farm. Each afternoon, transform into a chef to prepare a daily snack using ingredients just harvested from the garden.   Don’t forget to save some energy for playing on the playground, creating garden-themed art, exploring around the base of Pease Mountain, and making discoveries in and out of the gardens!

Camp Directors Tai Dinnan and Stacy Carter have extensive experience gardening with children and can’t wait to get their hands dirty at CCS.

More information & Registration Form at www.charlottevt.org (click on “Recreation” in the menu on the left), or email ccsgreenthumbs@gmail.com

CCS-Garden-Camp-Poster-long

 

Categories
Home Gardens Musings

Summer Photo Update: Veggie Edition

The season is changing.  School has started, we’ve had several frost warnings, and geese are headed south.  In my transition from summer vacation to a new job this fall, I take a moment to remember many special memories from the past several months.  We had a busy summer filled with family reunions, weddings, evenings with friends, and weekend guests.  Reflecting on such a full social season, I decided to look back through my pictures.  All I found were images of vegetables, herbs, and meals we enjoyed.  Though I wish I documented some of the fun we had with people this summer, I’m happy to be reminded of this peaceful and rejuvenating slice of a busy season.

dill

summer-harvest

pickles

drying-petals

summer-pizza

green-beans

Categories
Children and Nature Get Involved!

More Summer Programming for Kids!

I’m gearing up for a fun summer!  If your family lives in Vermont, check out the additional programs and workshops I’ve added to my summer offerings.  As always, check out http://taidinnan.wordpress.com/programming/ for the latest updates on my kids camps, workshops, and classes.  Thanks for spreading the word!

Charlotte-Library-2013

 

Kids-Cooking-Workshops

 

Categories
Children and Nature Get Involved!

Outdoor Fun this Spring and Summer!

Every April, the Children and Nature Network runs a “Let’s G.O.! (get outside)” campaign.  This is a great opportunity to bring together community members and have fun outside.  At Monkton Central School, we’ll have a variety of awesome outdoor activity choices for students on Thursday April 18th:Let's Go Get Outside Monkton

For Vermont families making summer plans, I’m excited to announce a partnership with Joe Schine.  Together we’ll be running a summer camp called “From Scratch” at the Bridge School in Middlebury, Vt.  We’re psyched about the freedom and creativity that this theme gives us.  Joe is an amazing artist and creator, and I love to explore nature and play with food.  Help us spread the word! From Scratch Summer Camp Vermontfrom scratch summer camp vermontFor more information about camp, email fromscratchvt@gmail.com  Click here to download the Registration Form.  Updates and information can be found by visiting http://fromscratchvt.tumblr.com/

Categories
Home Gardens Musings

August in Photos

I succeeded in taking off the summer and had a blast doing it!  Along with plenty of reading, relaxing, and eating, we also managed to fit in quite a few trips and adventures.  The following pictures illustrate some of the fun we had (when we remembered a camera.)

Evan and Mom harvesting the beans (we love the Fortex variety from Johnny’s)
Sungold time
Elle and Evan compete for the “most energy” award
Just another Camp sunset
The chicken’s last stand
Evan and Dad’s first fishing adventure
Sunset fishing off the dock
Family photo, Katz edition

Tomorrow elementary school starts, along with the after school program I’ll be leading at the Monkton Central School.  I’m thrilled to have found employment (only) 5 miles from my house.  It’s a beautiful 30 minute bike ride commute on back roads!  I look forward to taking advantage of all of the amazing natural resources that surround the school – there are ponds, forests, fields, wetlands, and an awesome school garden.