Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dreamkeeper Garden: The Autumn Update

Is it really fall break already?

It seems like these first few months of the school year have flown right past us! Since August our garden and scholars have grown so much, and we have plenty of stories to share as the weather cools down into Autumn:

The biggest addition to the Dreamkeeper garden has been our new goats! Through a lot of hard work by administrators and garden staff our garden is now home to a full grown female Nigerian Dwarf (we call her Mama Goat), her yet-to-be-named kid (who we birthed at school!), and an African Pygmy kid from a farm across Lake Pontchartrain. As the year moves on we have some big plans for our new four legged friends, but for now they’ve been a welcome addition for scholars and dreamkeepers alike.

Mama goat and her baby

New friends enjoying some pallet play-time
We also celebrated our annual Watermelon Day. All 700+ scholars at Langston Hughes Academy got to try fresh watermelon from a farm in Mississippi. With sticky hands and juicy smiles our scholars and dreamkeepers devoured fruit after fruit, bringing to life the immortal words of Mark Twain – “When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.”

"I bet I can eat more watermelon than you, Mr. Durham!"
Our classes have covered a lot of material in these three short months. Our kindergarteners have learned all about their senses and cherish every moment they get to spend outside. First and second graders have learned all about the different plants and animals in our garden, even getting to design their own insects! The budding scientists in third and fourth grade have used the garden as their lab, where we’ve observed and recorded plant growth and designed and built our own solar ovens.
Who dat say dey gonna water dem plants!
In middle school, our scholars elect to take garden. 5th and 6th graders have taken on a lot over the past few months. We’ve conquered our fear of bees and hot peppers (we even learned about capsaicin, the fiery chemical in peppers), renewed our partnership with Dillard University, and bolstered our cooking skills on a weekly basis. 7th and 8th graders have truly become stewards of our outdoor space. They’ve learned about human impact on the environment, and are gearing up for their long awaited return to the farmer’s market.

Curried okra and tomatoes taste even better when eaten off a banana leaf

We’re moving into fall now, and most mornings there’s a noticeable chill in the air. But with that chill comes the excitement of what’s to come: the thriving of our new goat family, brassica (kale, broccoli, cabbage) coming back to our garden, and, most importantly, the  prospect of pumpkins!
1st grade scholars putting together a bouquet for their teacher