During our second week of the program, students were introduced to viewing permaculture through exploring the relationship between all living things within our garden. Students worked on understanding how bugs, water, and sunlight all simultaneously play an important role in creating a balanced environment for plants to grow. In cooking, we made pizzas to enjoy together. Our gardeners are exploring how to enhance these elements in our program by designing their own future gardens and building bug hotels. They also began to put permaculture principles in practice by playing Pin the Permaculture Principle a permaculture landscape design and brought out their designs from our first week to see where they had already incorporated principles and brainstormed how they could include more with their new knowledge from the past two weeks!
This past week we were learning about the permaculture theme “Design for All”. We talked a lot about what this means in agriculture and eco-friendly design, and what it means in a social context. Design for All is such an important permaculture principle as it truly allows us to apply mindfulness and compassion for all life forms, and when this is applied, there becomes less need for synthetic and toxic agricultural inputs. And in the social context, this principle teaches us how to find value in people who we would tend to discriminate against for biased reasons. The conversations this aroused were really inspiring as the kids demonstrated their frustration against discrimination. And in the ecological context, we learned to value bugs, and design for them; they were really excited to learn that these insects were more important than we assumed. We built bug hotels to invite beneficial insects into our garden. I think this was their favorite activity so far! They got to saw, hammer, drill, sand, DESIGN and engineer little “hotels” to attract more beneficial insects into our space for we learned that these little creatures protect our gardens from pests without having to use toxic chemicals as found in pesticides. But the most thrilling yet was the discovery of the personal life of worms! Worms and microorganisms are often neglected and not designed for—they are not thought about in mainstream agricultural design. As such, we adopt practices that harm these life forms, producing, in result, a series of ecological and human health problems. When we saw what it looked like when we did NOT design for these life forms, we saw how poor and infertile soil became. It was quite touching when the students started to understand how valuable these organisms were and make that connection between environmental health and thriving worms. And when they saw worms mate, when they saw worm eggs and newly hatched worms, a new love and appreciation ignited. This experience, this connection, really helped seal in the importance of designing for all.
We had all been excited about seeing animals on our field trip to Alley Pond, so when the buses didn’t come, we were disappointed. Luckily, the wonderful teachers at Alley Pond brought the animals and the lessons to us! We got to see and interact with snakes, rabbits, iguanas, and more. After, we went to Traverse Park and explored!
Our first week's field trip to GROW NYC's learning garden on Governor's Island was a highlight for our students and us! It is a magical and inspiring place for gardeners and sustainability enthusiasts. We admired their beautiful perennial and annual gardens, learned about the giant solar oven, and watered the plants with rainwater from the rain barrels. The children tasted fresh veggies and edible flowers, harvested carrots, and created beautiful art with plant parts. The tone has been set for our summer together, learning that is engaging, relevant and fun!
- Monica Ibacache, Executive Director of Beyond Organic Design
Cassie & Priscila's Class
Week one was full of anticipation and excitement for us here at UDSP. We had many returning campers who stepped into their role as leaders of the classroom. Both those who attended last year and new students were introduced to the new learning-friendly design of the garden and the plants growing this year. Camp Director Monica Ibacache came and did a special workshop to have the students see how they are already designers and they made their first outdoor design of the summer!
In cooking, students quickly saw the usefulness of pickling and canning as a preservation method and part of our permaculture principle of Produce No Waste. We made cucumber pickles and continued the theme by using browned bananas to make muffins.
Day 2 was dedicated to seeds. Students planted a variety of seeds including radish, lettuce, and arugula seeds. Throughout our five week course, they will be observing their growth and will take care of them! They are so excited about harvesting their own plants knowing they will later on be able to use them in cooking class. The same day, They planted their own “thought seed” during our Plant A Wish Arts & Crafts activity. The activity consisted of drawing and writing what they would plant a seed in the world. The activity resulted in a colorful display of beautiful wishes for their families, peers and everyone in the world.
Klara & Sarah's Class
We had an exciting first week at the Urban Design and Sustainability Program! We began the process of delving into the world of permaculture, a design system that is based on how nature designs itself. Our focus was on the permaculture principle Produce No Waste. Did you know that without humans, nature produces no waste? Guided by permaculture principles, we used science, math, engineering, and art to understand why this is and how we can do the same.
We made insect mobiles out of trash, which otherwise would have gone to a landfill or wound up in the ocean. In cooking class, we made delicious banana bread out of brown bananas and pickles out of extra vegetables instead of throwing them away. After this, we had our garden class, where we learned about soil health and plants in our garden.
Together, we thought about what it means to produce no waste, why it’s important, and what habits we need to change to become less wasteful so that we can enjoy a greener planet, for us today, and for the generations that follow.
June is ending, as is 2018-2019 school year! We celebrate a fantastic year of growth and community coming to a close. Check out our final harvest of spring crops:
The ever-talented Cassandra Brown is back to teach with us for another summer season. We also welcome Gavriela Lagner, one of our two summer interns, to our Beyond Organic Design family.
Summer begins June 21st and it heralds the beginning of our 4th annual Urban Design and Sustainability Program July 1st. We will have another wonderful group of young people for 5 weeks who are ready to learn and have fun with all of us! There is much planned and a lot of exciting activities and field trips to come this summer. We are always grateful to our amazing partners at The Renaissance Charter School and our funders at NYC’s Department of Youth and Child Development (DYCD).
Greetings from Beyond Organic Design! It has been awhile since you’ve heard from us and we have been busy.
BOD had a great summer and our 2018-19 school year is going strong. Our innovative STEAM programming that blends design, agriculture, arts, culinary, ecology, and sustainability is continuing to be a hit with children, parents and teachers alike.
During our third summer of the six week Urban Design and Sustainability Program (UDSP), 40 Queens students ages 8-10 joined us once again at The Renaissance Charter School (TRCS) rooftop garden. Special thanks to our school partner at TRCS and funder at NYC Department of Youth and Child Development (DYCD).
This fall we returned to teaching our program and rooftop garden at YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood to students ages Preschool to Fifth grade. We diversified our composting by adding vermiculture, our students are mostly fascinated with our earthworms and their black gold casting.
At Central Park East 2, this is our third year of partnership.This Spanish Harlem elementary school has invited BOD to guest teach weekly their indoor heated greenhouse that includes a hydroponic system. We will be able to grow vegetables year round! This project also brings in a third partner and new collaborator with the Children’s Aid Society of NYC.
This summer, BOD once again taught a summer camp based on the Urban Design and Sustainability Program. In this five week camp, we worked with third through fifth graders from the Renaissance Charter School summer program. Watch our video to learn more about this exciting experience!