With the start of the 2016-17 school year, students in our Domestic Family Life class became our Eco Connections Teaching Garden gardeners, tending the garden daily. It is a joy to see our students working with the plants, watering, and harvesting squash, cucumber, and herbs. Additionally, students in our Foods classes have prepared samples from the garden that they serve in The Snack Shack COFFEE + LUNCH BOX including: cucumber water, cucumber sandwiches, and sauteed Lakota squash prepared with homegrown oregano. It is wonderful to watch students try, and enjoy, new foods, especially foods they grew from seed and harvested.
Thanks to the support of the Naperville Education Foundation, we completed the installation of our greenhouse. We were thrilled that our students participated in building the greenhouse, too. The greenhouse allows our students the opportunity to grow plants year-round and start our organic seeds early to be ready for the summer and fall crop. Our students will use the greenhouse for late fall plants and to start herbs, vegetables, and annuals in the spring. Our next step specific to the greenhouse is to install the shelving and get growing.
As a result of our spring Mother's Day Fundraiser, we installed our composter. Our students are learning about composting and have started composting using Eco Connections Teaching Garden and Bloom Room clippings, along with food scraps from Foods classes and lunch. Students add to the composter and rotate the bins daily.
We anticipate installing the lattice fence connecting the shed and greenhouse in late September or early October. We will lay mulch on the blacktop surrounding the beds once the fence is complete. Students planted Swiss Chard, Romaine Lettuce, Salad Bowl Mix, Spinach, Basil, and Kale seeds in our aeroponic Tower Garden this week. We are excited to share that seedlings are already sprouting. Nothing compares to a student grown and prepared salad or Kale smoothie, they are delicious!
The Daily Herald reached out to Veronica Porter, our community garden partner and owner of Veteran's Victory Farm, to write a story about our partnership with the Farm. It was lovely to talk about the purpose and benefits of our work and partnership, share our gardening hopes and dreams, and showcase our students tending the garden. You can read the article here: www.dailyherald.com/article/20160902/news/160909960/ and watch a video here: www.dailyherald.com/article/20160902/news/160909960/. We are appreciative for the lovely article and video showcasing our work.
Lastly, no garden update is complete without sharing the progress of our monarch bed. We are excited to share that every Swamp Milkweed that we received from Monarch Watch is growing. One monarch found us and a range of pollinators visit the garden daily. We have a hummingbird who stops by, too. We are in awe with the range of pollinators, birds, and insects that are attracted to our garden since planting this spring. Our goal is to successfully tag our monarch and track its migration to Mexico.