Monday, August 27, 2012

Choose My Plate

Michelle Obama has teamed with the USDA in developing the Choose My Plate concept. This program was introduced in June, 2011.

The biggest component of the concept is to make sure that half of your plate is filled with fruits and vegetables, with a little less than a fourth being lean proteins and the rest with whole grains. Choosing low fat dairy, helps to round things out.  There are 3 key components.

1. Balancing Calories
-   Enjoy your food, but eat less
-   Avoid oversized portions

2. Foods To Increase
-   Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables
-   Make at least half of your grains whole grains
-   Switch to fat-free or low fat (1%) milk

3. Foods To Reduce
-   Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals (choose the lower numbers)
-   Drink water instead of sugary drinks

So, consider this model when planning your meal. Visualize that plate and load up on things that are good for you. Plant a garden and 1/2 of your plate is taken care of. Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Everyone Gives Back On The Farm

It amazes me how our school farm project reaches so many friends. We have support nationally from Lowes, Whole Foods,  and The American Heart Association, as well as locally with our garden centers, Boys and Girl Scouts, and Master Gardeners. These  contributions have been great! We also have random acts of giving from our parents, teachers and students on our farm.

This farm friend brought us coffee grounds from home to feed our worms and nourish our plants.

Our school Farm Team donates time, resources and sweat on a regular basis.

Teachers and students dig in together to help support the farm.

Parents, students and school staff helped spread the news about our farm in our community 4th of July parade.

                   Our parents regularly give us their time and energy!

These kids took it upon themselves to dress up for one of our farm celebrations.

This group of  girls harvested seeds from our farm and sold them during a recent event.

The farm keeps us all busy with lots of giving spirit! We have a wonderful community! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Out On Joe Field Road

 North Texas Native Grasses

There is a unexpected garden space in a mostly industrial area, just off the highway, north of downtown Dallas. It is a Dallas Master Gardeners' project at the site of the Dallas County District 1 Commissioner's office. County Commissioner Maurine Dickey teamed with the Master Gardeners to turn the industrial property, where vehicles were maintained and her office was located, into a demonstration garden.

They started with an Earth Kind/Water Wise Demonstration Site by transforming a narrow strip of parking lot into a landscape that featured water conservation strategies.

There are 2 - Two thousand gallon water collection tanks on site.

Today the property has grown by including a rose garden, Raincatcher's garden, shade garden, composting areas with garden debris, as well as a worm composting area.

Their vegetable beds are amazing!

They know what they are doing where composting is concerned.

They offer several different field trip options for groups of all ages and their programs are free of charge. We just popped in on a Tuesday and visited with them. That is their work day out on Joe Field Road. They were happy to show us around and tell us all about their programs.

Contact them and stop by for a visit..., you'll be glad that you did.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Good Bugs - Bad Bugs

This big yellow caterpillar loved our Fennel flowers.
Every gardener knows that there are many ups and downs in the growing cycle.  You are constantly working against water supply, either too much or too little, weather conditions, which can't be controlled, plant disease and bugs.
A group of lady bugs landed on one of our basil plants.

When working with kids on the farm, there is always a cool bug, butterfly or pesky worm doing their business in the garden. They are an important part of a garden ecosystem. They are there because they belong. Whether they are good bugs or bad bugs, they are all part of the program. Whether they help or hurt our crops, we can learn from them all.

Bug Eggs.., are they friends or foe?

Many times when we set out to the farm to do a specific activity, we are sidetracked by bug activity. Since school gardening is such a hands on activity, the kids are always poking around and looking for change, fresh produce and of course, bugs!

We had to look closely for this Preying Mantis friend.

Bugs in our garden give us automatic extensions of lessons. Often times, kids or teachers will snap a quick picture and then go back to the classroom or home to research what a certain bug is and what it helps with or damages in the garden.  Whether they are harmful or beneficial, they are there for a reason and should be either welcomed or discouraged from gobbling up all of your harvest.

Celebrate your garden friends!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Herb Wars

 Herb Wars gave us some fun data.

We are always looking for ways to connect our students learning with garden curriculum. There are countless opportunities for meaningful, hands on learning, which is what tends to stick with kids for the long run.  Since one of our important partners is the American Heart Association, we are also concerned with the health and nutrition of our kids. 
A garden helps kids learn about vegetables, fruits and herbs that they may not have in their kitchens at home. I have noticed that even the pickiest of kids, are likely to try the foods that come out of our garden. If you grow it, they will eat it.

I got to see this first hand when we had Herb Wars at our school. 
Some members of the Garden Club harvested Cilantro, Parsley and Dill. We found some dip recipes that we could whip up and make a spread for the kids to sample. 
Cilantro was picked before it went to seed.

We set up a table in the hallway that leads to the playground and collected the data on which herb the kids at our school liked the best. It was a close race, but Dill came in first place.

We made herbs an event. We also used many academic concepts like data collection, graphs, tallies, research skills, and nutrition. 
The kids literally "Ate It Up"! 

Kids line up to try our farm food!
Including the entire school bonds everyone together and teaches way more than just gardening. At our school, the farm has helped us become a community of learners who have a common ground where everyone can feel success and pride. There are no barriers and no rules for belonging. 

We all can benefit from tasty harvests!