Our 7th grade STEM class has been very active in the greenhouse and garden throughout the winter and into spring. Students have been working with Cary Peterson, volunteer garden coordinator for South Whidbey School District. We are excited about the progress we are making towards providing “Fresh Food for Lunch” and look forward to our first “official” meal that will include LMS grown produce. We are also continuing to provide fresh, healthy produce to the Good Cheer Food Bank, building on years of community involvement and service.
Many thanks to the following organizations for supporting our schoool garden and Fresh Food for Lunch initiative: Good Cheer, South Whidbey Schools Foundation, Community Education Center, and Whidbey Garden Tour
Here are updates from our three focus groups:
1. Garden and Greenhouse Happenings, by Weston Kemp, 7th Grade STEM
Do you want to have fun? Learn about all kind of plants? Grow healthy and fresh food? Well come on down to Ms.Milan’s 7th period class. We come up with all kinds of ideas to help our school be a better place.
The garden and greenhouse group are in charge of all the planting and cleaning of the greenhouse. Our group includes Angel Reafs, Miriam Dandridge, Ryan Larson, Niki Greene, Ashleigh Casey, Kayci McNeil, Dylan Blair, Taylor Springer, Emma Lockleer, Odin Hopkins, Dillon Kemp, and Weston Kemp. We do a lot of plant work, as in planting seeds, watering starts, and keeping all of our planting beds up to date for the winter and the spring. The next step in our STEM class is to bring fresh food to our school cafeteria. We call it, “Fresh Food for Lunch”. We are almost there!
Our STEM class has been working so hard all year to get to that point. We will get there, but we need some extra hands. We work on all kinds of projects. All of the projects we do are a lot of fun and they can create some amazing memories. We have separate groups but we are all helping reach our common goal.
So far in the garden group we have planted 120 starts and we grew many of these plants from our saved seeds from last fall. We have also cleaned up a very messy green house. It was fun cleaning up and sharing ideas to make the greenhouse better. But the most amazing thing about this group is we all worked together and we made a difference in the garden and the greenhouse.
In 4th quarter, we’d like all of the kids in 7th grade to be involved in helping our school be a better place by helping bring our LMS grown food to the cafeteria. We can get there if we all work together and help our school reach its goal!
photos by Emma Lockleer & Cortni Westgard
2. Water Source for the Garden
In order to serve our LMS-grown produce as part of the school lunch program, we need to comply with safety protocols outlined by Chartwells, our school lunch provider. One of the challenges was to come up with a source of drinking-water quality water for irrigation to the garden.
Student groups in 7th grade STEM have been investigating two solutions to this problem. During 2nd quarter, students researched possibilities to extend the water line from the building to the garden. We have received a grant from Whidbey Island Garden Tour to help with this project, hopefully over the summer. For now, we are meeting the criteria by using a hose that is drinking-water quality.
During 3rd quarter, the focus of the STEM group was to design an effective filter for the rainwater collection system already in place.
Many thanks to Lori O’Brien, who has been working with this group nearly every week, helping them to research, design, test, re-design, and re-test their solutions. She has also sent in water samples for testing to help us learn that we do not have an E. coli problem, which is great news. However, we are working to reduce the total Coliform count. We learned that the water does meet criteria for organic gardening certification, but not the “drinking-water” quality standard that Chartwells requires.
Water Filtration Project, by Diavonte Degrace, 7th Grade STEM
The water group has been working hard to accomplish their goal. What we have been trying to do is ﬁlter water. This is challenging because the water that we are ﬁltering is rain water and when rainwater sits for a while, bacteria and algae may grow.
The group has done well. We had one great success. We went from some bottles stacked on each other, to a bucket that was ﬁlled with the materials we needed. The water group is ﬁlled with hard working kids with great potential, including Michael Maddux, Jaden White, Cortni Westgard, Keegan Bryant, and Diavonte Degrace
With the water group, the garden group, and the health awareness group nothing can stop us from reaching our goal. Come join in our ﬁnal quarter enrichment so we can all make a difference in the way we feel, eat and live. Together we can make a difference in our school.
3. Langley Middle School’s Fresh Food for Lunch: Video Group, by Lily Timms, 7th Grade STEM
Farriss Jokinen, Mary Zisette, Adri Denman, Erin Brewer and Lily Timms have been working on a video that will be shown to the whole 7th grade of Langley Middle School. They have been working on it in Ms. Milan’s STEM Enrichment class during 3rd quarter. With lots of bloopers the video is almost done. They are trying to make it funny but still very educational and helpful to all the students to learn food safety. LMS is trying to get fresh food from their garden to the cafeteria. The garden and the cafeteria aren’t very far apart, so why is it so hard to do?
Having everyone working in the garden by weeding, watering, and harvesting, means a lot of hand washing and healthy behavior. The video group has been helping inform students to keep food from the garden healthy and get rid of food borne diseases. They have also been working with Cary Peterson, master gardener, who volunteers at the food bank as well as at LMS to help the garden crew learn all the techniques of healthy gardening.
Comments from 4th 7th Grade Stem Class:
Weston Kemp: I think fresh food for lunch is an amazing idea. It helps with the environment and it tastes amazing. We all (as in kids) can grow it ourselves and the other positive thing about this is that what we grow helps other people in our community. It helps in so many ways and it means a lot to me that I can be part of making this school and the environment better. By the way, it also can make our food taste a little bit better then packaged food 🙂
Ainsley Nelson: Fresh food for lunch is important to me and to us because it gives students some responsibility and something that we can all work together on. Also, it is very important because it is good for the environment and is a healthy way for all of us. These are the reasons why I think fresh food for lunch is important and meaningful for everyone.
Michael Maddux: I think it is important because having fresh food means a healthier school.
Mary Zisette: Fresh food for lunch is important because it will help bring fresh and healthy food to our cafeteria. When we bring good food to our lunch it gives the students a chance to eat food that was grown and harvested by their fellow classmates. It also helps them eat nutritious and healthy food. Fresh food for lunch will be a great addition to our school lunch.
Angel Reafs: The fresh food for lunch has changed my perception on how we treat plants. It has been an honor for me I got to help transplant little baby seedlings and wait for them to harden off and then put them in our own garden to eat!!!. I personally think that having a class for kids to just learn about how to take care of plants and how to prepare them to be eaten is the coolest thing a kid could go through and having a class just for it is awesome. I would love to have a class just like this in 8th grade but luckily the 6th graders will be able to have a great teacher like Ms. Milan.
Diavonte Degrace: Fresh food for lunch is very important because it keeps you healthy, provides healthy food, and plus it’s great for the environment. We need more veggies because now days we don’t get enough and fresh food for lunch is a great way to do it. If you want to start being healthier, then come join us help make a difference in our environment.
Caden Spear (uneditedJ): Having fresh foods in my school has always been a dream. In fact back in my old school I tried to put healthy foods in the menu I in fact had a meeting with the school principle. In 1 year I saw that kids and teens at my old school were supposed to have two cups of vegetables which was a big step for the school and how I got inspired to do that was because I was watching a show with my family and what the guy was doing was showing kids how gross chicken nuggets are and really just making and showing the kids a healthy diet. And this had me mouth opened about how children did not even know what a tomato was and saying tomatoes are gross. And the guy said ketchup is made of tomatoes so as fries are made of potatoes. Like I said about him making chicken nuggets in front of the kids and he should them the way that the nuggets are really blended chicken leftovers and he cooked them and said ‘Now would still it this’ Next thing you know the kids eat all of them and just watches amazed of what he is seeing. Really what he does is make schools serve much healthier meals including high school and that’s what I tried to do at my old school.
Parker Duncan: Fresh food is important for lunch, it makes kids healthier and it tastes great. It also gives kids energy for the day. When sports come they will be more ready to play.Fresh food is also fun to grow and harvest and it teaches kids how to garden. This is why I think fresh food is good for lunch.
Nadine Kinskie: Having fresh food from our garden is important to me because I like having a part in helping our school. Also, maybe if we do it other schools will catch on and have their own fresh grown local food. Last, it is important because we will be spending less money on shipping food in.