Monday, December 10, 2012

Curtis Bay Elem./Middle Celebrates the Harvest

Things always seem to be happening at the Garden, no matter the time of year!
Just as November turned into December, and the Filbert St. Gardeners were thinking things were slowing down until next season, some teachers from Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle suggested hosting their fall reward celebration for good behavior at the garden.
Teachers and community members came together to design activity stations, provide some watchful guidance, and plan food for the event.

The result? Over 100 students were rewarded for their good behavior by spending 20 of their "Bark Bucks" to visit the garden. While they were there, students enjoyed a garden treasure hunt looking for berries, seeds, something fragrant, and a piece of trash (which unfortunately didn't seem too hard to find.)
They also helped to paint a garden mural which will soon grace the garden's front entrance. The mural-painting introduced students to painting with stencils, and the images we painted focused on the idea of transformation... in our community, and in our garden.

Students had the opportunity to enjoy some piping hot cider while doing leaf rubbings under our mulberry tree, they played in our meadow with the parachute, and even found the time to do a bit of garden service by helping to mulch the paths for their school garden.
All of this seemed to work up an appetite, so some members of the Curtis Bay Student Green Team help Mr. Jason the Garden Manager make Empanadas. We stuffed our homemade pastries with canned tomato sauce and a bit of cheese. These got put in our wood-fired cob oven, and in only a few minutes came out golden-brown, flaky, and most importantly- delicious!
Thanks to all the teachers who helped to organize the event, and to the students.
We'll probably be moving most of our workshops and activities indoors soon- so stay tuned for news on our community cooking workshops and garden art days.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I'll Have a Work Day, Please... and make it a DOUBLE

What's better than a work day in the Fall at the beautiful Filbert St. Garden?

2 back-to-back work days at the beautiful Filbert St. Garden!
Last Thursday and Friday marked the garden's first 48 hour garden day.
Students from Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle christened the new outdoor classroom, and used the opportunity to learn about native plants and to plan their planting.
Teachers and students were joined by helpers from Ben Franklin High School, the community, Parks and People Foundation, UMBC (thanks Lacey and Jenny!), and Towson University's Tree Club and the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority.  Special thanks to the Tree Club of Towson University for providing the funds to purchase ALL of the plants, compost, and materials for the planting!

So, what did we accomplish?
With help from over 60 students, 25 college volunteers, and the cooperation of numerous partners, we planted close to 60 native species (including Goldenrod, Golden Alexander, Clover Bush, False Blue Indigo, and Viburnum) Mulched over 800 square feet of invasive grass, planted and pruned grasses and bulbs, and prepared for the final step in finishing our outdoor classroom (more on that next time!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What a Summer Season!

For those who haven't visited the garden since the beginning of summer, the next time you stop by, you will be absolutely shocked!
As the school year came to an end, our student gardeners cooked their harvest of Potatoes, Onions, Brussels Sprouts, Peppers and Greens into a delicious campfire meal.

As summer marched forward the garden took on it's first intern, Montarius, who joined through a program with the Chesapeake Center for Youth Development. He worked closely with Garden Manager Jason Reed to build a new shed, repair and old one, and he helped to facilitate the 2 garden summer classes.
The first class was around 15 high school students working through Youth Works.  In their month at the garden they planned and planted a native fruit bush orchard.  They drew a to-scale map of their site, amended the soil, planted the plants, built and installed bench seating and painted the new shed.

Our second class came from the Curtis Bay Rec Center's Summer Program. These Elementary and Middle School students worked with Montarius, Jason, and CBEMS teacher Dave Dallas to build a cob pizza oven.  They worked very hard learning about the different kinds of heat, digging a foundation, making their own cob cement, and finishing their oven.  By the summer's end, they had their first pizza cooked in the wood-fired oven they built!

All of us at Filbert Street Garden are excited for the fall-
We will be working closely with students from UMBC and Towson to bring this beautiful space even closer to the community!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Outdoor Classroom Space Takes Shape!!

For the past 2 months, the Filbert St. Garden has been working closely with teachers and students at Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle, as well as with volunteers from the community and from as far away as Cleveland, to finish the first phase of our Community Outdoor Education Space.  Grants from the Captain Planet Foundation, Whole Kids, and Child First Authority have made so much of this progress possible.

A huge aspect of the outdoor education space is the planting of a Native Plant Garden.  Designed as an integral part of the outdoor classroom, growing areas, and community circle, the plan for our native garden calls for over 250 individual plants, spanning close to 40 species!

Students from CBEMS have spent the last few weeks learning about the importance of native plants.  They have learned techniques that landscape architects use when designing and planting.  Some students have even come away with a fantastic amount of knowledge about the plants they are working with.

All of this work led up to a culminating planting day

Students worked hard to remove invasives from the planting area.

They selected their plants from species of Milkweed, Native Grasses, Coral Bells, Jack-In-The-Pulpit, Red Bud, Winterberry, Sweetspire, Pepper Bush, Choke, Elder and Service berry, Coneflower (Echinacea), Goldenrod, Hyssop, Aster, Bee Balm, Sensitive Fern, Foxglove, and Foamflower.

With help from Mr. Dallas, Ms. Wells, Mrs Scotti and Mrs. Ferguson, and Mr. Jason and Jeff Bothe, students dug a hole,

amended the soil with organic compost,

"tickled the roots" to encourage growth in their plants, 
and watered their new garden.

While doing such a large planting certainly had it's challenges, one of the huge rewards came at the day's end, when students and volunteers alike could look out over their community's water tower and see over 1,000 square feet of beautiful gardens, native plants, nature trails and classroom.  
So far this project has involved 7 teachers, over 50 students, and numerous volunteers, in a sustained effort to build one of the most effective outdoor classrooms in Baltimore City!

The opportunity for us to recognize the individual's power to inspire real and true change is not something that will fade with the onset of summer vacation, or that will be lost in the years to come.
Thanks to everyone for all your hard work!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Great Blueberry Planting!!

On Saturday May 5th, the Filbert St. Garden hosted it's FIRST collective planting.  Planned by the community gardeners, the event featured neighbors, community partners, teachers and students, all working towards a common goal: to transform an empty plot in the community garden into a perennial blueberry farm with enough bushes to have a serious impact on the health of the surrounding community.

Prior to the event, the community gardeners selected the site, amended and adjusted the pH of the soil, mulched paths around the planting area, and planned the location of each of the 30 bushes.

 On the day of the planting, we were joined by enough neighbors to finish the planting in record time!  Each of the bushes had  had a hole dug for it, had it's roots "tickled" to encourage new growth, and was mulched with a top dressing of compost and straw.

 As the sprinkler watered our newest additions to the garden, community members took the time to plant some flowers and weed their beds.  A few students from Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle school planted their own garden of peppers, melons, beets, kale and carrots, while some of their friends accompanied the work with music from the garden concertina (an old toy accordion that manages to work it's way into many of our activities)

Keep your eyes peeled for more!  Next up:  BEN FEST, a community day sponsored by the local high school featuring entertainment and fresh food!

Monday, March 26, 2012

SPRING (what's the opposite of a) BREAK

As students from CBEMS planted the gardens they have been planning, student volunteers from Connecticut and Cleveland scaled the steaming peaks of what the kids have christened "Mt. Poop-erest."  
The 30 or so volunteers who came out for Volunteer week succeeded in preparing almost 3,000 square feet to become outdoor education space!  They also tilled the garden's field beds, weeded the raised beds, and prepared the soil in our soon to be planted blueberry orchard.
Community members came out to show their support for the volunteers.  Students prepared a campfire dinner, and local neighbors Homer and Dave played gospel as the student volunteers relaxed after a hard week's work.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spring Garden Curriculum Starts @ Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle

Whoa!  It's February... in fact March is just around the corner.  The students and teachers in 3 of Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle's classes are acutely aware of this, as today was their first day of Spring Gardening.  As a class, we learned to choose our plants (based on time of year and desired harvest time).
After settling on a planting list, we determined how much space each of our plants would take up, and broke our garden into small, medium, and large plants.
As a class, students used paper dinnerware to help them visualize the plants in their garden.
The result?  A collaboratively planned garden plot and seed ordering list.
Next up for us is prepping our soil (Dirt Soup, anyone?)