The fall season is a time of harvesting, preparing the soil for winter and planting flowers for the spring. At the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) students get a hands-on approach to all of their lessons, especially observing the affect that the climate has on plant life. In light of their studies, Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman, taught her class about a program called Journey North, which involves planting Red Emperor tulips and allows the students to track the change in seasons and climate around the world. Every fall, Journey North’s website depicts data and reports from schools around the globe who are planting these red tulips.
The Journey North Tulip Test Gardens is an important observation program that helps scientists measure climate change in various parts of the world. According to the Journey North website, “One garden at a time, the relationship between climate, geography and the greening of spring is revealed. Local climate affects where, when, and how plants grow. Over time, the timing of plant growth can be used as an indicator of climate change. Everyone who participates in this international tulip test garden project contributes valuable information to a long-term database.”
Students at PS 346 were able to receive hundreds of Emperor Red tulips, which they planted in the SCRF UGC with the help of Roytman. “During the winter the blanket of snow will cover these tulips, and then in the spring they will sprout out from the ground,” Roytman said. A simple sign of springtime is the blooming of flowers, so when the tulips emerge the students will do their part in announcing to the Journey North program their findings.
After Roytman’s third grade class finished planting, she then escorted the students back into the Aquaponics Lab, where they learned about making stuffing. “Since Thanksgiving is a few days away, I thought we could learn about farm-to-table meals,” said Roytman, who presented the class with celery, onions, apples, and an assortment of herbs grown in the UGC.
Roytman handed the students child-safe cutlery, so that they could help her prepare a healthy stuffing mix. As the children chopped the vegetables, Roytman turned on a portable electric stove top and boiled the water. She then collected the chopped vegetables and apples, fried them in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil and vinegar.
Combining the mixture with the stuffing and boiling water, Roytman and her class created a Thanksgiving classic side dish. Eight-year-old Keyanna Brown loved the stuffing. “This is the best class ever! I got to help cook and eat all of this yummy food,” she said happily.
Roytman was pleased with the classes’ glee as they ate their homemade food. “I want the students to make the connection between the vegetables they are planting and eating. Everything at the UGC comes full circle, from watching the seeds grow to harvesting and then cooking them,” she said.
Photos by Amanda Moses