Monday, July 26, 2010

Reflections by David, Hazle and Kevin

Today our SYEP interns read a bunch of books to the Harvard Street Pre-K Incentive Program kids in the garden. Soon we will be introducing large garden libraries at all of our Early Childhood locations that introduce themes like farm-to-table, insects, math in the garden, recipes, and bringing in beauty with flowers. Some of the books David, Hazle and Kevin read today were the "Plants Parts Series" by Vijaya Bodach:
Roots, Leaves, and Flowers.

Below they have written responses to their experiences working one-on-one with the kids and figuring out how best to tell a story.

Kevin Smith -
Today was a learning experience for me. The children were very respectful and were willing to listen to me read. I enjoyed gaining a new connection with the children. The most difficult part of the lesson was having to explain myself more than one time. For the children to understand, I had to break down my words in children's terms. Overall my experience was great because I became closer with the kids by understanding them more.

Hazle Crawford -
What could I do better? Ask more questions to the kdis.
What did I like? I liked the fact that the kids were fantastic and enthusiastic with smelling and drawing plants.
What was successful? Everything was successful as a group we did excellent and accomplished our jobs.
What was difficult? The difficult part was at the end when a little boy was acting shy.
But overall I would give today's class a "B+".

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Teas-ing your Tastebuds

Today's New York Times has an article on making your own tea using herbs and wild plants from your garden, front porch, back yard, wherever you find them. After reading this article I thought, why not just stop by a City Blossoms garden for some of these ingredients? Some of the tasty tea herbs we grow (on purpose) are:
Pineapple Mint
Chocolate Mint
Lemon Verbena
Lemon Balm
And more! Just ask! Besides that, we can help you identify some of the wild "weeds" in this article, such as burdock, plantain, dandelion, and mullein. One of our best locations to see all of these growing vigorously is Marion Street Intergenerational Garden. Monday and Wednesday nights we are there 4-7; come stop by to volunteer, ask questions, hang out or pick some herbs!
Also check out herbal tea advice from You Grow Girl

Macaroni Caprese!

We like to shake things up a little bit here at City Blossoms. Well, actually, we just like to figure out weird ways to get kids to eat all of the tasty delicious food in the garden without freaking out and staying in their picky-appetite shells. So instead of a traditional Insalata Caprese today, we decided to go for something a little more familiar, and made sort of a Macaroni Caprese. We used whole wheat macaroni (semi familiar) and added the traditional caprese ingredients: tomato (familiar), basil (umm sorta familiar...), and fresh mozzarella (what the heck?!). Tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper, this is an easy and cool pasta salad to prep on a day when even our eyelids are sweating. And judging from these pics, it's pretty tasty, too!

Pictures of this week

Beet Painting! Who knew beets could be so much fun? We were thinking long and hard about what raw recipes we could make with beets - alongside pre-K no less - and were coming up short. Beets are just one of those tricky begetables that are fun to grow. So we figured, beet paint, why not? Kids shredded raw beets to make the paint (with a little added water), then used the paint to write out "beet" and make pretty designs. We love to play with food!

These young gentlemen decided to show some swiss chard who's boss. Swiss chard is usually best when cooked or massaged in a raw salad, however these two (and several other kids at Marion) were digging it in it's pure, raw state. Maybe they know something I don't.

This week we had a lovely outing at the USDA People's Garden with our young SYEP interns. More details to come about that trip...let me just warn you - it was HOT!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thank you Jack Johnson and All At Once!

We at City Blossoms want to give a shout out to Jack Johnson's All At Once campaign that supported us and many other local and national non-profits this summer. Last night, Rebecca and I went to host a table at Jack Johnson's concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion, and we met a ton of lovely people who helped us make some gorgeous signs for Marion Street Garden (pics soon to come). Thanks to the generosity of All At Once, we were able to match all of the donations from our recent fundraiser to support programming at all of our locations. Check out to find out more about the campaign, how to get involved with some of their projects and support non-profits like City Blossoms!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cool as a Cucumber

Today children from New Community For Children came to Marion Street Garden in the megaheat and explored the flavor potential of cucumbers with us. Cucumbers are a fantastic food to grow in the garden because they can be prepared in a wide variety of simple, no-cook recipes right there in the garden that are light and refreshing. We are lucky that no cucumber beetles have been spotted in our beds yet, but our eyes are open!
The kids tasted some of the fresh cucumbers from the garden and compared the flavor, texture, color, and smell with pickles from a jar. Some kids learned for the first time that pickles are made from cucumbers! Next, we all worked together to prepare some fresh garden pickles using cucumbers, chive and dill (picked from the garden), a lemon (not picked from the garden), a bit of water, and salt. These were a big hit! Many kids asked for seconds, thirds, and fourths. We hope that the cucumber vines keep producing so we can experiment with other flavor combinations next week. Some of the recipes we are excited to try out are:
Cucumber-Radish Salsa
Cucumber Tomato Quinoa Salad
Cucumber-Mint Raita

Chances are, if the kids are making the recipes, there will be no leftovers!
Do you have any good cuke recipes? Send them our way!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Advice from David Holmes

Our SYEP staffperson David Holmes wrote this up today to give some advice to those out there who may be considering gardening with City Blossoms:

This a little something I like to call working in the garden.
Well during the summer I worked with City Blossoms. It was cool and all but, sometimes I just didn’t want to get all dirty. So, if you are someone like me and you don’t like to get messy but, you want to work in the garden with friends/family/employees. Just follow these steps!

step 1: find out who you will be doing it with

step 2: see how messy the work site is

step 3: depending on how messy it is that is how you choose your clothing
regardless it’s gonna get messy because you have to water and trust me it’s gonna get muddy

step 4: also dress according to the weather

step 5: well I guess you should be all set and ready to go, just make sure you do a lot of watering

from: your friendly neighborhood gardening boy “David Holmes”

We think David might have a real future with City Blossoms! He definitely is getting the hang of it despite early doubts. We look forward to having him share more of his opinions and advice with us over the rest of the summer.

Welcome to New City Blossoms Staff!

Hello Everyone,
This summer we have been very lucky to have 4 Summer Youth Employment Program staff join City Blossoms and help us lead classes all over the city! David, Hazle, Sabrina and Kevin are all DC teens who are enthusiastic to work with kids and learn more about creating gardens, even when it means getting a little dirty and hot (especially with DC's blazing summer!). Over the next several weeks, our staff will be creating posts to tell about their experiences and ideas about gardening, making fresh food, exploring outdoors art and connecting with neighbors at all of the City Blossoms spaces. Here are some of the first observations below - enjoy!

In the past few weeks working with City Blossoms has been a real pleasure. I have learned about all types of plants, and herbs that could be cooked. I also learned how to be a role model to kids that are younger than me and teach them how to be gardeners and excelllent cooks. The most interesting class was when we cooked pasta salad with carrots, onions, parmesan cheese, squash, lemon, and oil with the kids today at NCFC. My favorite part of working with City Blossoms is that I get to work with some smart kids that are in the pre-k and upper classes. My least favorite part about working with City Blossoms is that I have to work in the sun under the heat. If I could teach a class I would like to teach about science, and plants and how plants really came about to the world, and how the world uses them for food.
- Hazle Crawford

An Interview with David Holmes

What have you done in the past week with City Blossoms?
I have been working with all kids in the garden and make recipes with them. Also we I have been watering all plants.

What did you find interesting?
I find working with the kids most interesting.

What was your least favorite part about working with City Blossoms?
My least favorite is getting dirty but, you got to do what you have to do.

If you could teach a class, what would you like to teach about?
Well kids like City Blossoms a lot because of the water and growing plants, I mean I guess gardening and /or math.

Hi my name is Sabrina and as I’ve been working for City Blossoms for a couple of weeks we have experienced many things as we all have worked in various gardens. For example, we have worked with lots of kids that are different ages, which is great because its a whole new experience for me as a high school student. It's been so great teaching them things about gardening and as I do that, I am also learning myself by my co-workers teaching new things every day. Every time at work I learn new things which makes me feel great because I can go home and do the same - not just at home but with other students as myself. Today we helped teach class to some high school kids. I was sort of scared and ready at the same time but I felt great working with kids my age. It seems as though we understand each other better as we teach class amongst kids our age. What was it like me being a high school student and facilitating a class of high school student? It was an amazing experience because we all understood each other very well and got to know things about each other as we helped them wash the ingredients, mix them, and try it. I felt so excited, helpful, and awesome!! It's something I'm not gonna forget. I know I'll go further as my teacher teaches me and I teach others. So this means i still got a lot to learn and experience more things!!(laughing)
- Sabrina Molina