Embracing a Place-Based Approach in the School Garden

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Point Blue Conservation Science Watershed Week. This annual event has been held since 1998, but the project it celebrates–STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed)–has been in existence for over 20 years. The goal of the event was to empower educators to feel connected to the Bay…

Backward Planning for a School Garden Salsa Harvest

Tomatoes start showing up in the big-box stores as early as February. To stay competitive, the locally owned nurseries probably stock them not much later, even though they know that it does little good to plant tomatoes any earlier than April 15th in Napa. Depending on your location, the low evening temperatures throughout the summer…

What Does It Mean to “Grow Slow?”

A few years ago at the biennial Farm-to-Cafeteria in Austin, Alice Waters delivered the closing plenary.  If you don’t already know who Alice Waters is, you should find out. She is credited with establishing an edible schoolyard at a middle school in Berkeley, which over the past 20 years has grown into an entire network of…

School’s Out for Summer! (Well, not really, but almost.)

One of the most perplexing challenges of the school garden is the academic calendar. Even in climates with a year-round growing season, summer is usually the most bountiful time of year. But summer is also when students are scarce. How can you ensure that the summer harvest doesn’t become a maintenance burden? Select varieties that mature slowly….

Planning for Pollinator Study: Best Practices in Lesson (and Garden) Design

Pollinators are all the rage in garden circles these days, and for good reason.  Not only do humans rely on pollinators for many delicious foods we eat (almonds, blueberries, and chocolate, to name a few), but bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and beetles also provide critical ecosystem services. Pollinators help maintain biodiversity by supporting plants to…

Spring Plants, Grants, Contests, and Events

Spring has sprung! Buds are breaking and temperatures are rising. Warm weather brings so many opportunities–and work–in the garden. The spring season welcomes a proliferation of plants, grants, contests, and events for school garden educators. As the soil becomes workable again, annual plant sales begin. This past weekend I attended the UC Davis Arboretum Plant Sale. People seemed surprised…

Take Advantage of School Garden Networking Opportunities

This past week offered a whirlwind of activity in the various community groups to which I belong, namely the UC Master Gardeners of Napa County School Garden Task Force  and the Napa Chapter of the Farmers Guild. Here are a few highlights, along with a gentle nudge to get involved yourself. The School Garden Task Force was…