Summer 2023, Week 1 + 2
As we eagerly prepped our garden for the first day of camp, the sun shone down on the Queen’s rooftop full of tomato plants, an apple tree, herbs, and beautiful flowers. On Monday morning, the empty classrooms turned into lively spaces for students to thrive and grow. Our intro day consisted of learning about one another, talking about what respect and fairness looked like, and integrating some really joyful icebreakers. After assigning classroom jobs, we each created a seed packet with our favorite plant that included fun facts about ourselves.
After an exciting introduction to our garden, the kids were given the opportunity to water the garden and replenish the soil. After a few sweaty minutes of gardening, we explored a “cooler” activity in the kitchen. Homemade ice cream with oreo crumbles were a favorite snack for all. Taste wasn’t the only sense we engaged during week one. Herbs were explored as a form of medicine and food, giving kids the opportunity to smell various oils, they created their very own essential oil roll ons. As we rejoiced in the smell of mint and lavender, the kids learned what it meant to become true, ethical designers. The three principles of permaculture structured our week and the kids were able to form true connections through people care, Earth care, and fair share.
The beginning of week two challenged our new gardeners and permaculturists with the task of renewing the school’s sidewalk tree pits. In order to beautify the area and revive the soil, our campers got their hands dirty in compost, mulch, and ornate flowers. After discussing the benefits of decomposing and compost, it was on to important insects! Each camper picked a favorite insect, one that benefits our ecosystem and gardens in a positive way. From butterflies, ground beetles, bees, and spiders, the campers used their imaginations to make the coolest paper plate bugs. Our field trip for the week was a perfect way to see everything we spoke about in action. We traveled to Yonkers, New York to explore the Science Barge, a hydroponic garden on the Hudson Rivers. The campers were able to pollinate flowers, make sustainable planters, and take a peek into a garden that fully functioned on solar and wind energy. After a busy start to the week, we spoke about different vegetables and fruits, culminating in delicious, homemade chips and guacamole. The campers also built their own solar ovens out of pizza boxes and construction paper, cooking their own quesadillas in the sun (and some tried plant-based cheese for the first time). Back in the classrooms, campers were able to watch the process of dehydration after an informational talk about food preservation. After setting goals to create less food waste, we cut up various fruits and were able to dehydrate them for snacks the next day. As the week came to an end, our campers were certified designers in both the garden and life. They brought home some delicious smelling homemade lip balms, planted seedlings, learned about sustainable living, and discovered what the power of permaculture design can do.
-Teacher Hannah Berman