Getting them started!

Keally gave you all a wonderful vision of our second early morning adventure by the river – and I must agree, starting the morning with hands in the soil discussing the merits of double digging, how far to space seeds, and discussing different types of compost was one of the better ways I could imagine spending a morning.

As Keally mentioned, after sticking our hands in the dirt for a good hour, and sending loving vibes to our newly planted seeds [they haven’t sprouted yet… but it has only been about 5 days, I guess we’re just being impatient] we headed back to my place to get some more seeds in containers.  When contemplating the best place to put our newly soaked and planted seeds, I realized that the fire escape right outside of my bedroom window was ideal.  Side note, when I first moved to the apartment I was a bit disappointed that the fire escape wasn’t large enough to sit out on and you know… sip a brew of some sort.

ie the emergency supply of greens

The fire Escape!

But, now I know it’s perfect for setting up some small home beds.  Right now on the windowsill there are a bunch of starts – I did some experimenting with the containers and made a good number with the newspaper method – but then while standing by my recycling bin I saw a few cans of empty PBR… inspired by their cyclical shape I decided to cut off the top of a few, and punch a few holes in the bottom. Ta Da! Hipster friendly start containers!  I’ve got pictures, don’t worry -but I need to upload them, so they’ll be here soon.  When starting seeds its important to remember that not all the seeds will germinate, and that it’s important to put a few seeds in each start container, also, some seeds (like chard and beet seeds) have really tough exteriors and need to be soaked in water to break down the exterior so they will have an easier time sprouting when in the dirt.

Speaking of sprouting, in addition to being on this insane planting spree – I also just started my own alfalfa sprouts – and let me tell you they are so fulfilling!  As soon as you soak them overnight and then pour out the water they go CRAZY!  [once again, pictures coming soon!] I was pleased to get a full quart of alfalfa sprouts in less than a week.  My partner and I are going to be eating lots of delicious sandwiches if we keep up this sprout making adventure.  But honestly, they are so easy to make, and all they take is rinsing them twice a day.

To round out this rambling post – I will take you to the last location of my seed-ful week!  Once a week I head over to Olneyville to volunteer with a really awesome organization called English for Action.  As you can see on their webpage, EFA’s mission is to serve Latino immigrant families in Providence, RI through participatory English language and childcare programs that link language learning, leadership development and community-building. Although I wish I had enough time to dedicate to being an actual ESOL teacher, all my schedule permits right now is 2.5 hours a week with the childcare program, OurSchool. Honestly, OurSchool is one of the best parts of my week, more and more I’m realizing how much I enjoy spending time learning from, teaching, and spending time with kids of all ages.  The way that OurSchool works is that we have a lesson plan for each day – usually an activity that takes 30 – 50 minutes – and then the rest of the time is spent running around, drawing, or doing homework.  Throughout the past couple weeks the kids have been really interested in gardens, seeds, and where their food comes from. I thought that there was no better way to turn this into an activity than have them make their own newspaper planters and start some seedlings of their own!  So on Tuesday night we spent 15 minutes making a bunch of newspaper planters, and then we headed outside to fill them with dirt (a mixture of compost and potting soil – but just basic potting soil, no special supplements).  It was fascinating to see each student’s reactions to the dirt, some of the teenage girls were quite scared to touch it, while some of the five year old boys started throwing it at each other.  Once they had the dirt in their containers they were anxious to get the seeds in the ground.  We had looked at the seeds – peas, carrots, and sunflowers – before the project started – and I could just see them itching to get them in their hands.  But, I took the moment to ask them a few questions:  “How many of you have planted seeds before?” (most of them raised their hands) “How many of your parents have gardens” (about a third of them raised their hands) “How many of you help your parents in the garden” (only 1 or 2 raised their hands) – I went on to ask them if they think about how the majority of the food they eat started out as a small seed, and went on to be created into their favorite foods like Doritos and french fries.  I was grateful to see a good number of them take a mental step back and start to think about what the function of seeds are, the importance of seeds.  Then we went on to talk about what happens under the group – Ella Baker style I asked leading questions, trying to always draw the questions out of them rather than giving them the direct answers – it worked.  Together they were able to piece the story of the seed together.  It was a great moment.

Until I started working with OurSchool I never had really thought about teaching as a career – but the more and more I read about popular education styles (like Myles Horton and Paulo Friere) the more I get excited about using these methods to teach both adults and kids alike about the current situation in the world and the importance of having collective ownership over knowledge… more on this later.

signing off.

bkr

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