Tag Archives: GreenGardens

Guide to Farmers Markets: Benefits Beyond the Plate


The following article by Robin Plaskoff Horton and reposted from Fix.com:

Both casual cooks and celebrity chefs flock to their local farmers markets to avail themselves of the freshest locally grown produce straight from the farm. In addition to Read More…

The post Guide to Farmers Markets: Benefits Beyond the Plate appeared first on Urban Gardens.

Los Angeles Gets Ready for Second Vegan Oktoberfest

Los Angeles is home to the Vegan Beer and Food Festival, a Vegan Street Fair, and as counterintuitive as it may seem, the popular Vegan Oktoberfest, which runs next weekend, October 3-4. Now in its second year, Vegan Oktoberfest has vegans and non-vegans alike counting the days until the festival’s doors open

The post Los Angeles Gets Ready for Second Vegan Oktoberfest appeared first on Eat Drink Better.

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What Happens When You Teach Math in the Garden?

It’s 9:30 on a Wednesday morning in a third grade classroom at Hannah Elementary School in Beverly, Massachusetts, and Leilani Mroczkowski, Education Coordinator of Green City Growers, is pretending to be a radish. She’s squatting on the ground, holding her knees, with her long black dreads hanging down toward her dirt-caked work boots. Behind Mroczkowski, her coworker Hadas Yanay is standing on her tiptoes, with her arms stretched toward the ceiling.

“So if I’m a radish down here, and Hadas is a kale, which way is north?” Mroczkowski asks the class. The kids point towards the front of the room.

“That’s right! That way the tall kale won’t block the short carrots and radishes from the sun!”

That’s the lesson of the day: where to plant vegetables of varying height in your garden. The record-breaking winter snowfall in Beverly landed this late March lesson indoors, a fact that made the students respond with a disappointed whimper.

The teacher, Suzy Tassinari, sits in the back, grading handouts. “They love getting outside, working in the garden, seeing the bugs and insects,” she says. “They all want to participate, even the quieter ones.”

Organizations like Green City Growers and City Sprouts, another Boston-area school garden program, are taking an unorthodox approach to education, bringing classroom subjects like math and social studies into the garden. Using hands-on, garden-based examples, they hope to provide lessons with a technique that differs from the traditional classroom, all while teaching young urban-dwellers where fruits and veggies come from.

Their efforts are not alone, and they align with the work of organizations all across the country. The Lets Move! Initiative, founded by First Lady Michele Obama, focuses attention in part on “greening” school lunches. Berkeley’s Edible Schoolyard project aims to “build and share a national edible education curriculum” for elementary through high school students by establishing gardens and kitchens as interactive classrooms. And chef Jamie Oliver has made an immense impact with his Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project, which provides schools with recipes, lesson plans, nutrition information, and all the supporting material they need to develop successful garden education programs.Bev-Kids

But some garden-based education isn’t limited to growing fruits and vegetables. Michele Kaufman, Garden Coordinator of City Sprouts, demonstrated in one morning the wide range of lessons that could be taught in the garden. One April morning, the first-graders were planting peas. The morning’s session was also, sneakily, the beginning of a math lesson. The kids will measure the growth of the peas as they climb up the string fence on the long side of the bed.

“[Garden education] gives direct, hands on lessons, rather than conceptualizing. It puts everything they’re learning in the classroom into context,” says Kaufman. “There’s a big difference between measuring a two-inch line on a piece of paper to measuring a two-inch height of a plant in the garden.”

There are lessons to be had in science—everything from the life cycle of a bug to the anatomy of a seed and social studies—planting vegetables specific to regions the classroom is studying, like Africa, or historical periods, like colonial America. The garden can also be used as inspiration for art and creative writing.

Developing a curriculum that is both worthwhile and makes the most of the garden is a staple for a successful garden education program. Program coordinators spend the colder months working alongside teachers to develop curriculum for public schools that complements the increasingly rigorous state public school standards.

According to national research, garden-based learning delivers. REAL School Gardens, a nonprofit organization that trains teachers and creates garden learning environments for schools across the country, has seen a 12 to 15 percent increase in standardized test score pass rates in their schools. In addition, 94 percent of teachers reported an increase in student engagement in the garden and in the classroom.

In a 2014 case study, Green City Growers also found that the students they’d worked with had a 43 percent score improvement and a “much stronger grasp” on concepts associated with organic farming and sustainability after just one semester. More students were also able to identify vegetables like eggplants, radishes, peppers, cucumber, kale, and beets. And student scores increased with conceptual questions on benefits of organic and local foods.

Garden-based learning may also help students who have trouble sitting and listening in the classroom. “It’s not that they’re bad students, but the environment that they’re learning in is not conducive to their type of learning,” says Mroczkowski of Green City Growers. “When you get them outside and have them experience hands-on learning, that’s when they zone in and focus.”

Tassinari, the third grade teacher, has seen this first-hand in her classroom. “There was a boy in my class last year who had a really hard time in the regular science program. He wouldn’t sit still, was impulsive, had shout outs. He didn’t seem to be that into the subject,” she says. But when they went outside, he absolutely loved it, she said, and he became focused, tuned in, and even helped other students with the subject. He had discovered that gardening was “his thing.”

The post What Happens When You Teach Math in the Garden? appeared first on Civil Eats.

How much insect stings and bites hurt – scientific measurements

Justin Schmidt rated them for you so you’ll know how much sympathy you can beg for –

1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.x Honey bee and European hornet. 
3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of Hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream).
4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel.
One of the worst stings was from Pogonomyrmex badius (an ant, above) which he “likened to pain that might be caused by someone turning a screw into the flesh’ or “ripping muscles and tendons.” Wow. That is serious dedication to your work. Anything that has ‘badius’ in its name, well i’m steering clear of.
But perhaps the worst sting of all goes to the Pepsis wasp (or Tarantula Hawk, yeah it kills tarantulas. Pictured below.). Rather than light or fruity or shag-carpety, he described the pain as “…immediate, excruciating pain that simply shuts down one’s ability to do anything, except, perhaps, scream. Mental discipline simply does not work in these situations.”
Schmidt ended up rating 78 species of stinging insects. Check out some of his papers here:
Schmidt, J. O. 1986. Chemistry, pharmacology, and chemical ecology of ant venoms, pp.425-508. In T. Piek [Ed.], Venoms of the Hymenoptera.. Academic Press, London
Schmidt, J. O. 1990. Hymenoptera venoms: striving toward the ultimate defense against vertebrates, pp. 387-419. In D. L. Evans and J. O. Schmidt [Eds.], Insect defenses: adaptive mechanisms and strategies of prey and predators. State University of New York Press, Albany.
Schmidt, J. O., M. S. Blum, and W. L. Overal. 1984. Hemolytic activities of stinging insect venoms. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 1:155-160.