Friday, March 24, 2017

Garden Pests - Texas Honeybee Guild - Heirloom Seeds

Spring sprung this week and we had a lot of work cut out for us. The kids were thrilled with the huge growth that they noticed in their garden beds, but were disappointed to find some problems.  Since we missed a week on the farm enjoying Spring Break, we weren't around to notice that the Brassica plants were being annihilated by the caterpillars of the Cabbage Butterfly.  In two days, we discovered over 600 caterpillars under the leaves of our broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage. The chickens enjoyed some protein as we learned that they loved to munch on these garden pests. The good news is that the kids found more beneficial insects than pests, so the balance of nature is winning. Ask them about their findings and have them check your home gardens. They are really good at it! 

Our 5th and 6th graders are learning about local agriculture and welcomed Susan Pollard from the Texas Honeybee Guild. They learned about the importance of bees in our food system as well as the alarming news that honeybees have been added to the Endangered Species list. Hopefully, the kids will share what they learned and teach others about ways to help save the bees. Without bees, we wouldn't have food!

Did you know that many of the historically significant foods are no longer present in our food system? Big agriculture companies are doing much of the farming in the United States and they are making the decisions about what is offered at the grocery store. Our after school farm camp helped out by planting some of these heirloom seeds that Slow Food USA sent to us. They planted bean varieties of Turkey Craw, Cherokee Trail of Tears, Mayflower and Dragon's Tongue, Seed potatoes and Deer Tongue lettuce. Our job is to plant, harvest, save seeds and share our results with Slow Food USA. Come to the farm and check out our  History Garden by the chicken coop. We also had a special guest, Caroline, who helped us plant the cotton seed that her Grandfather, a farmer from West, Texas shared with us. 

Our Kinder friends got to sample their Deer Tongue lettuce and they loved it!

#GrowingGoodness day after day at Moss Haven Farm.., That is how we roll!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Microgreens and Migration

Each season brings new learning and growth to our school farm. The first small shoots of our seedlings have popped up producing microgreens. Microgreens are young seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs harvested less than 14 days after germination. They are usually about 1-3 inches long and come in a rainbow of colors, which has made them popular in recent years as garnishes with chefs. Researchers have found that the nutrients in microgreens were 4 to 40 times greater than in mature plants. Since microgreens are harvested right after germination, all the nutrients they need to grow are there and that is why they are so concentrated. So, we through in a health lesson, thinned our radishes and nibbled on these tasty microgreens. Ask your kids about it. They all tried them.

Migration was a hot topic this week since our feathered friends the Purple Martins were sighted on the farm. Last year was our first year to host these amazing birds. They come to North America to raise their young ones and then travel back to South America. Purple Martins are native songbirds in the swallow family. East of the Rocky Mountains, Purple Martins nest almost exclusively in human-supplied housing. They are dependent on us for their survival. They are one of America’s most well-loved songbirds for many reasons; their chattering song, aerial acrobatics, insect-eating habits and their tolerance of humans. We are thrilled to have them home on the farm! 


Monday, March 6, 2017

The Beauty of Bugs

Our Winter is ending on a very warm note. This year in Texas, we have had record warm weather and our farm is growing about a month ahead of what it normally is. So the bug life cycles have sped up too. This week, we searched for ladybugs, worms, milkweed assassin bugs, slugs, rollypollys, grubs, ants and anything that wriggled and wiggled. We found bugs under tree stumps, in the compost pile, under leaves and in the garden beds. The kids worked together and shared their findings. The teamwork was wonderful.
We even found a snake!
Farming forms friendships and connects learning to the earth. We love our school farm! E I E I O...,