For those of you whom I have not had the opportunity to meet, my name is Brandon and I have been the AmeriCorps volunteer serving with the Schoolyard Gardens team. My one year term of service is coming to a close at the end of July, so I’d like to recap my term with some of my favorite times, and things I’ve learned serving as a Schoolyard Gardener.
Top list of things I’ve learned
- Sweet potatoes grow best with less. Sweet potatoes grow great foliage with a lot of regular watering, but I noticed at some school gardens that this resulted in smaller potatoes. Watering sweet potatoes only when weather is especially hot and/or dry will help the plant grow bigger tubers. Also, keeping a generous layer of mulch over your bed can increase the size and health of your plants.
- Nasturtium is delicious and beautiful. Every part of the nasturtium plant is edible. The leaves, stems, and vibrant flowers have a robust peppery flavor. You can eat them raw or cooked. They are so stinkin’ good.
- First grade students do not care if a carrot is small, it is still awesome for them. Digging them up and pulling them out of the earth is one of the best and coolest things to first grade students.
- I have learned to despise Johnson grass, cabbage loopers, and Japanese beetles.
Working with Mr. Robinson’s gardening class at Foreign Language Academy over the past year has been really cool. Having a successful harvest party with the students was so rewarding and fun. It was really exciting to see the students trying all the fruits and veggies they grew and it was great getting to know the students while helping them plan, prepare, and care for their spring garden. It was so rewarding to be a part of their whole garden process.
Working with Micah at Primitivo Garcia Elementary with the LINC students was a lot of fun. The students were full of energy and excited to be working in their garden. Every afternoon working with them was a good afternoon.
Watching an under-used garden get whipped into shape by the hard work of students in garden club at Luff Elementary in Independence was awesome. Mrs. True and Mrs. Martin took charge of the garden and did an amazing job starting a gardening program, and getting students involved.
The massive garden construction at Holliday Montessori was exciting and inspiring to be a part of. The whole student body constructed 9 new garden beds that are growing fruits and veggies right now.
I have learned so much from the Schoolyard Gardens team and the KCCG staff and I am grateful for the experiences I have had with them. I would like to thank the team for the opportunity to put my design skills to work, and thank the teachers and students I have worked with for making it a special year for me. Thanks guys.