Gardening with the LEAP Classes!

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On Tuesday May 10th, the LEAP classes were excited to be planting beans, lettuce, and full sun exposure flowers! These standing planters were placed in both bird gardens at West Patent, and are an exciting edition to the gardens. With the help of Ms. Connolly, their teachers, and fifth grade enrichment students, the students of the LEAP classes had a lot of fun planting, raking, and watering the trellises. After that, they filled up the bird feeders with bird seed, and hung them on their posts.

It’s Spring!

First Graders Go Back to the Garden

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The weather has not been cooperating with us much, but on a warmish spring day, Ms Connolly had all the first grade classes come outside to the Learning Garden to build and plant a bean tunnel.  The kids read the classic tale, “Jack and the Beanstalk” under the new outdoor classroom pergola and then with shovels in hand, weeded the beds, added some new soil and planted string beans and sugar snap peas under the bean poles.  In a few weeks, they’ll head out again to check on the progress and by June, they’ll be able to walk under the tunnel, pick and eat the sweet snap peas and beans they sowed themselves.

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7th Annual Book Share March 8-11th

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 11.49.52 AMClean out your bookshelves while helping our school Learning Garden grow.  It’s time for the 7th annual Book Share Fair,  March 8-11. 2016.  The book share allows every student an opportunity to purchase books at minimal cost and learn about sustainability and recycling.  Donations of gently used child appropriate books for grades K-5 will be accepted at the front office in bags or boxes please, now through March 8th.  Volunteers are needed to help with set-up and sales during school hours.  If you would like to help or have questions about donations please contact nadia.ghannam@gmail.com

2016 Learning Garden News

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The West Patent Elementary School Learning Garden Committee is very pleased to announce that a grant in the amount of $1200 has been awarded toward the design and building of a new K-2 Early Childhood Learning Garden.  The grant was awarded by the Bedford Garden Club’s Project Review Committee and represents about half the projected cost for this exciting new school garden.

The WPES Learning Garden Committee along with our tiered support teachers propose to re-locate the K-2 Early Childhood Garden to the back of the school building.  This new location would provide improved accessibility and visibility to the garden from the classrooms as well as better soil quality, sunlight, access to a water source and an opportunity to re-think the space to better serve the younger students.  The goal for 2016 is to build a new K-2 literature-based garden where every planting bed would have a picture book associated with it.  Imagine the “Jack in the Bean Stalk Bed” or the “Blueberries for Sal” bush with children reading their favorite stories outdoors before planting and harvesting.   We hope to secure the remainder of the needed funds to build and plant a simple enclosed space for our K-2 Early Childhood Garden from our local school and business community.  If you would like to donate in any way;  design and planting skills, construction labor, material donations or cash, please contact Nadia Ghannam, nadia.ghannam@gmail.com or Denise Connolly, dconnolly0216@bcsdny.org

Learning Garden Gets a Helping Hand from Fox lane High School Interns

By Denise Connolly

 

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Last spring 2015, was an amazing time for students at West Patent Elementary School thanks to Charlie Kleinsmith and Joseph Ruggiero, our very first Environmental Educators and Aspire students from Fox Lane High School.  Forst and Foremost, Charlie and Joseph were in charge of planning, buying, planting and maintaining the Learning Garden.  They met with our Garden Committee on several occasions to discuss what to plant in our theme based garden boxes, where to but the best plants and how to plant them.  Every student in school was involved in amending soil and planting seeds and plants.  Our interns made sure to water religiously during dry spells.

Students who selected “Garden and Wildlife Club” for their enrichment class were also involved more deeply in plant experiments, composting and maintaining the garden by weeding, staking plants and planting sprouts that were started indoors.  Students in the second grade enrichment groups studied the importance of water and how to catch water using alternative methods.  They watched in amazement as Charlie and Joseph built our brand new Greenhouse Shed and attached two rain barrels to the gutters to collect water.  The shed will serve two purposes, storage of garden tools and a place for students to start seedlings in the late winter months.

Finally, under the supervision of Ms. Connolly, The Aspire Interns ran three outdoor workshops: “The Plight of the Honey Bee”, Sustainable Fishing” and “Camping and Hiking”.  Students in grades 3-5 chose one 45 minute workshop in which to participate and got hands on opportunities to try on a bee keepers gloves and hat, examine fishing lures, and take a hike and examine camping gear.  Our very first Aspire Interns Charlie and Joseph were a huge hit and an inspiration to keep this internship program moving forward in the future.

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Bring Home a Basket of Veggies this Summer from the School Garden

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Summer Garden Watering Schedule

Calling All West Patent Families!

Our kids have worked so hard this spring digging, planting, watering and weeding to make the Learning Garden thrive.  With summer vacation around the corner we are asking for volunteers to water and weed and keep the garden alive so our kids can enjoy the late summer harvest when they’re back to school in September.  Summer garden volunteers are asked to sign up for a one week slot beginning Sunday June 28th through September 6th.  Volunteers and their families are welcome to harvest the abundance of ripe vegetables and herbs during their shift.  Watering and weeding need to be done as weather dictates. Instructions will follow separately for garden and hose access.  Thanks for supporting the WPES Learning Garden!  To sign up please follow this link Summer watering schedule

Ask Your Kids What They Tasted From the School Garden Today

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Did your children come home with a sticker saying ” I Tasted Something from the WPES Learning Garden” today?  If they did, it’s because today at lunch all the kids had a chance to taste something that was harvested from our own school garden. Yesterday, students went outside to pick some early greens; mint, basil, lemon balm and lettuce.  Our volunteer parents, washed and “dressed” them up. On offer was lettuce with oil and vinegar, cubed watermelon with mint, tomato, mozzerella and basil, and iced lemon balm tea.  Special thanks to all our volunteers who helped make our fist Tasting Tuesday a success! Ask your kids which was their favorite and try some at home this summer!

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Tasting Tuesday at WPES

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Tuesday, June 16th during our lunch periods, our Learning Garden volunteers will be setting up tasting tables in the cafeteria, in lieu of the salad days from the past.  There will be four items for the children to taste with ingredients harvested from our school garden: basil with mozzarella and/or tomato, lettuce with oil/vinegar, watermelon with mint and ice tea with lemon balm.  Children are encouraged to have a “taste” and will receive an “I tasted something from the Learning Garden” sticker.

Harvesting greens for

Harvesting greens for “Tasting Tuesday”

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2nd graders with their crop of greens for

2nd graders with their crop of greens for “Tasting Tuesday”

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“In Spring at the End of the Day You Should Smell Like Dirt”- Margaret Atwood

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2nd graders in the garden

2nd graders in the garden

This 2015 WPES Learning Garden is off to great start!  Students from all grades have had the opportunity to be out in the garden planting their themed beds.  From Pizza gardens to Colonial gardens, Chinese medicinal herb gardens to an Emily Dickinson inspired garden, the soil has been transformed to an impressive array of flowers, vegetables, and herbs. The kids, teachers, and parent volunteers  have done a fantastic job and all seem to take pride in what is now a beautiful and thriving garden.

No part of this spring transformation would have been possible without the support of Denise Connolly and our two fantastic Environmental Studies interns from Fox Lane High School, Charlie Kleinsmith and Joseph Ruggiero.  Charlie and Joseph have been working tirelessly to clean up maintain and make repairs to the Learning Garden, source plants, and provide hands on lessons to our kids about environmental stewardship.  In addition to all of this, they will be setting up a greenhouse and rain barrel collection system for watering down by the enclosed garden space.  This will be a wonderful addition to our Learning Garden program and will allow for many lessons in early plant growing from seeds before the snow even melts, making our Learning Garden a year-round source of enrichment.   Denise Connolly has made huge strides this year in introducing new environmental studies and food science enrichment classes.  Through the use of indoor grow light systems in the classroom, farm to table healthy nutrition lessons and alternative energy studies our WPES students are exposed to a full range of concepts about sustainability and environmental stewardship. The Learning Garden truly is a space for learning!

Joseph and Charlie our amazing garden interns

Joseph and Charlie our amazing garden interns

Slide Show: WPES students busy in the Learning Garden

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Wildlife and Gardening Club Get’s Ready for Spring

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By Denise Connolly

Students in the 5th grade enrichment class “Wildlife and Gardening Club” were busy planting seeds to share with the rest of the school for the Learning Garden. Bush beans, tomatoes, peas, corn, squash, cucumber, pumpkin, carrots, and sunflowers were enthusiastically planted and will become part of our thematic gardens.

For example, the corn and squash will be part of the “Three Sisters Garden,” while the cucumbers and bush beans will be part of the “Kitchen Garden.” Other thematic gardens adopted by classes include the Sunflower Garden, the Butterfly Garden, Emily Dickinson’s Garden, Chinese Herb Garden, Pizza Garden, Belizzi Garden, Butterfly/Humming Bird Garden and the Color Garden. Students have set up an indoor lighting system and will place the seeds under grow lights after they germinate. They are excited and hopeful that all of their seeds will grow!

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