garden education || san francisco

Since August 2011 I have been working as a garden coordinator at a Chinese immersion public school in San Francisco. Out of  habit, I’ve brought along my cameras and recorder along my journey as a first year garden teacher. Here are tidbits of sound collected and strung together. Sometimes whole stories. Other times simply ambient from the day’s events. For more images and text you can visit, which I have been updating for the 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 school year.

Pumpkin Patch Day 

Listen to some of the sounds and interviews from our pumpkin patch day this past October. We had fairly larger pumpkins this year courtesy of Andronico’s Community Market. After we read a story about a pumpkin and marigold seed and ate cookies, the the kindergarteners and 1st graders went up to the garden to carefully select their pumpkins to take home. The kids were scrambling all about in search for their perfect one, and pumpkins were tumbling down into garden beds. At the end of the day they each lugged their new orange gift back down to their classrooms – most of the pumpkins safely made it all the way back home.

Bok Choy, Spinach, & Chard Cooking

The 3rd graders had the chance to harvest the bok choy, yellow chard, and spinach that have been waiting to be eaten in our garden beds. We spent the Tuesday afternoon picking, chopping, and stirring the greens in a saute of olive oil, garlic, and salt. The samples were then topped of with an orange slice for each student.

Green Living Project Visits with Sustainable RV

The 1st grade classes received a special treat on February 23rd. We had a guest presentation during garden time given by Jason Esler from the Green Living Project. He is traveling in his sustainable RV and giving talks to students about the stories they’ve gathered from environmental programs in schools all over the world. Jason talked with the 1st graders about topics ranging from the rain forests, solar water heating, and deforestation. When asked about what deforestation meant a student surprised the teachers by responding, “clear cutting.” We were all very impressed by the awareness that our students at AFY have about the environment. After the presentation we all went out to Jason’s van on 12th Avenue and learned about all the sustainable features, such as the composting toilet, recycled denim insulation, convection oven, bio-disel power, solar panels, and non-VOC paints inside.

History of the AFY Garden with Arden Bucklin-Sporer

At the beginning of the school year I sat down with Arden Bucklin-Sporer, executive director of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance and the main founder of Alice Fong Yu’s garden, to learn about the history of the program. Have a listen as Arden looks back at the transformation of the site from “Garden 1.0″ to “Garden 3.0.”

It’s not a horticultural wonder and it’s not a tidy garden, but it is a great place for learning and for students exploring their natural world, which we all know that kids don’t get enough of. People live in a concrete jungle and people are scheduled up to their gills and you know kids don’t have a lot of time to just wander around and wonder at things and I think that if there’s anything that I hope that this garden really does is it helps attach kids to the natural world in some very basic way so that they can begin to interpret other things and the broader natural areas that they might go to. – Arden Bucklin-Sporer

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