09 January 2012

Resident Focused Garden Projects

As I've mentioned previously, this school year our work in the garden is geared to better serving the residential population at St. Anne's. Recently the children have completed some projects that make it easier for the residents to enjoy the fruits of our labors (literally!).

The first grade replanted our strawberry plants that we got last year from Hill of the Hawk Farm in Big Sur. The strawberries now live in pots right on the main Jeanne Jugan patio where many residents can enjoy them, even in their wheelchairs if need be. The berries surround our lemon tree which also lives there.

On Friday the first grade heard a story from the Queen of Workenwonder that detailed a contest she held to find a place to plant carrots that would be safe from the disruptive behavior of moles. It turns out the troll's suggestion to plant the carrot seeds in pots won, and so we carried out the Queen's wishes by planting carrot seeds in pots.

This not only keeps the carrots free of roaming moles (a real issue at times in our garden), but also enables us to grow them on the patio where the residents can enjoy seeing the carrots come to life. Importantly, however, I reminded the students that one can't just plant any carrot in our medium sized pots, it has to be a small variety. We planted "Little Finger", which when full grown resemble an adult thumb. This led to a very interesting discussion about those little carrots one can purchase at the store in a bag. Some children thought those were a freshly picked variety of small carrot, but others knew that in fact those "baby" carrots are really just cut and polished bits of large carrots.

The Third Grade helped harvest and bag herbs for an herbal tea mixture this winter. Our tea contains nettles, chamomile, spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm and oregano. We grow all those herbs between St. Anne's and the Grade School Campus, but we don't yet produce enough of the mint, nettles and chamomile for all the tea we needed, so I made up the difference from Rainbow Grocery's bulk organic tea aisle. With our newly enlarged herb garden, next year we should be able to produce all our tea ourselves.

The tea has a lovely taste, and it now is available for the residents in the Ice Cream Parlor at St. Anne's. This is a nice room off the main lobby where residents and guests can help themselves to coffee, tea, pastries, and yes, ice cream.