Orcas Public School students were welcomed back from winter break by grey skies and rainy days as Farm to Classroom moved indoors to savor the last of the season’s garden goody abundance. With the garden at rest, Miss Mandy and garden keeper Colleen brought some of the outdoor goodness inside with lessons like calendula salve making, sun catcher crafting, worm studying, cookie baking with flower petals, and seed saving.
In early December the K-6 Farm to Classroom students handmade ornaments for our tree in Rosario Resort’s Festival of Trees. If you are not familiar with the fundraising event, Rosario Resort invites local non-profit organizations to decorate pine-trees in their lobby and invitees community members to “vote” on their favorite tree(s). In hopes of winning this year’s most voted on tree, our students made all-natural pinecone birdfeeders, garden themed word blocks, hanging twig art, and popcorn strings. With the community’s support and Rosario’s generous contribution to our Farm to Classroom Program, our tree raised a total of $390! These funds went directly to our classroom funds to assist Miss Mandy in acquiring the various materials and supplies needed for her classroom.
In January a community member donated a compost tumbler to the school garden. This inspired a lesson on how our underground earthworm friends work to turn our dead plants into rich soil. At the end of the lesson students were asked to identify three interesting facts they learned about earthworms… they have 5 hearts, they are both male and female, they have tiny little hairs to help them grip the ground. Many classes “did the worm dance,” inspired by an educational video. Students went outside to look at worms in our own garden and draw them in their journals. The time in the garden fostered further understanding of how these worms work.
Kindergarteners were the only ones to have F2C one week and the weather was sunny and irresistible. The students explored the garden outside, picking fava bean flowers and yellow leaves, and green grass to press them between two circles of contact paper to make sun catchers. They held them up to the sun to observe the colors and the veins in which water flows.
Awaiting the students’ return from winter break were mason jars of calendula flowers slowly steeped in olive oil and sunshine. During warmer months, students enjoyed sprinkling calendula petals over their “garden burritos,” not yet aware of the medicinal properties of the vibrantly colorful flower. Students learned about the magical topical uses for calendula, such as helping scrapes heal faster and soothing irritated skin. Each student made their own tin of salve by heating up the calendula oil and stirring in pellets of beeswax until it melted. While patiently waiting for the salve to set students custom designed their tin’s label scrawling it with “bee balm” and “healing potion” and “sap.”
For Valentine’s Day, students made special seed packet valentines for the many calendula seeds they saved from the garden in fall. This lesson followed calendula salve making, and was a way for the students to share the gift that keeps growing and healing your skin. Packets were decorated with growing instructions, heart drawings, calendula flowers in full bloom, and cartoons. Along with a lesson in seed saving and sharing, students made heart-healthy cookies with oats and applesauce they preserved in the fall, and even two surprise optional ingredients… lavender and rose petals! All eight classes chose to experiment with both of the flowers, many “mmmmm-ing” over the results.
Throughout winter the garden is ever on our minds as students peer out the windows and learn all the many ways our seeds and plants can be used year round…baked with, made into medicine and beautiful art. The worms continue their joyful work in solidarity, throughout all seasons, and we enjoy winter for all its restful projects and promise of spring.