Matt Durham is returning this year as Lead Garden Educator, entering his fourth year at Langston Hughes Academy and his first year as our fearless leader! Amy Nau has certainly not left the LHA garden altogether, but she is stepping into a different role as site gardener where she gets to work through the Edible Schoolyard network not only at our site but at all of the Firstline Schools helping out a fantastic ESY garden crew. Amy is also taking on something she is really excited about, a pilot program combining gardening and therapy as a Horticulture Therapist for students all throughout the K-8 charter. She also is teaching a "Garden to Table" cooking class with 4-8 graders in the industrial kitchen. So far they have made pizza, pesto and delicious smoothies!
Eloise Reid is returning this year as an Assistant Garden Educator, taking on a full-time position as her commitment to the LHA and ESY team and children grows and grows! New on the garden team this year is Jane Madden, an educator who has been working in gardens and with youth all around the teacher in places like Baltimore, South Carolina, and now New Orleans! We are thrilled to have her in her role as the other Assistant Garden Educator as she brings experience, joy, and passion to the LHA Dreamkeeper Garden.
As students came back through the double doors this August, many of them inquired as to how the garden was doing, and especially the goats, chickens and rabbits. The trio of goats is alive and well and enjoyed a hot New Orleans summer with the help of ESY volunteers providing food and water, Donkey, Mama Goat, and Oliver couldn't wait to spend time with their favorite scholars.
The Rabbits, Simba and Cherry, just received a new hutch and stayed shaded and cool all summer and fall with many new treats, including a beautiful water bottle, and a healthy change in diet. They are excited for Ms. Eloise's after-school garden class to build them a food forest in their own little enclosure.
Ms. Jane has been gracious in caring for our most stinky, and fragile resources- the chickens! In a new and improved home, we revived our flock this summer with 15 chicks! Unfortunately a raccoon or possum reduced that number to 8. With three brand new layers, including two silkies, we are back up to 11 and producing roughly two dozen eggs a week.
This year was all joy and excitement for the K-4th grade students who took a trip to Wacky and Wonderful Watermelon World! They experienced a seed-spitting contest, got their muscles working while making a watermelon smoothie on a bike blender machine, and used their beautiful creative minds to make watermelon beaded bracelets and face paint their faces! Pre-K got a surprise visit from Mr. Watermelon! Middle school enjoyed a watermelon eating contest as part of their JOY celebration, and many teachers and staff were able to walk away with a watermelon or two with a little bit of extra harvest from Farmer Ben's Mississippi stock.
Before we get into the chilly season of New Orleans, scholars are always enjoying planting seeds, and learning all about their senses. First and Second Graders are diving in deep to the heart of garden creatures' life cycles, third graders are learning how to be observant, patient, and curious scientists, and fourth graders are learning all the ways to propagate plants!
Thanks for reading the epic post for the beginning of the 2015 year, and stick around for a Family Food Night post from our resident journalist, Mr. Matt!