Monday, July 7, 2014

Community Service Project with Woodbadge March 2014

We had Woodbadge returning for another service project this year at the Living Classroom!  Their group spent the day doing many tasks in the orchard: weeding, mulching, picking up fruit, pruning, fixing irrigation, spraying soap and general clean up.  We are so grateful to them for their hard work and desire to help our program out! Thank you!

Slow Food Ark of Taste Event

We were recently awarded a micro-grant from Slow Food Orange County to purchase materials needed to expand our growing spaces in our Living Classroom.  We couldn't be anymore thrilled for this generous gift and to say thank you the wwoofs and I volunteered at one of their recent events.

Slow Food OC and SEEDS partnered up to host an evening dedicated to food items on the Ark of Taste directory at the Annelise School in Laguna Beach.  If you are not familiar with these organizations, I encourage you to check them out!  All work hard to bring education to the community through food awareness and preservation.  We had a wonderful time setting up for the evening, serving food, meeting new people in the community and of course trying the delicious food be offered.  It was a beautiful night full of great company and hard work dedicated to ensuring future generations have access to these wonderful foods.

Thank you Linda and Slow Food!

Read about Slow Food OC Here
SEEDS Art and Education Here

Photos from the Annelise School

Flower arrangements!

Kristin, Jason and I

Spring Homeschool Session - One of our favorite programs!

Our favorite program in the Life Science department is our Homeschool sessions with k-3 students.  We love this opportunity to work with these little ones for numerous reasons: seeing them every week lends to familiarity between teachers and students, creation of bonds and memories, consistency in curriculum and programming and so much fun!  This group was no exception and we had a wonderful time sharing the wonders of nature with them.

Each week had a theme, ranging from water, to waste/recycling, pollinators, sun/solar power, food, gardening and more.  Our program starts with a quick lecture or activity introducing the topic, time spent in the garden where students plant and care for their own plants and concluding with an art project.  Our Homeschool program was a great success and we are looking forward to accommodating more groups from our surrounding areas.  

Learning about the power of the sun!

Integrated and organic pest management in gardens.

Repurposing our orange rinds for bird feeders!

Using beautiful items in nature to create looms.

Exploring the world around us, even at the smallest level.

Discussing decomposers and their importance in our environments.

A trip to the zoo to learn about native animals and some not so native.

 Seed mosaics!

 Harvesting fruit from the orchard.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Life Science Director Presents at AEOE and SLC Conferences - April 2014

I had the pleasure of presenting on Permaculture and WWOOFing at the AEOE and SLC Southern California conferences.  I discussed how both having wwoofers and implementing practices of Permaculture laid the foundation for the new curriculum and development of the Life Science program.  It was such a wonderful experience to have met so many individuals working in the camping community all for the same goals and outcomes in outdoor education.

What I did find almost shocking to hear, was that most camps do not have a functioning garden and that it seems to be the last priority on most most administrators lists.  Not having an experienced and dedicated individual seemed to be the biggest issue, as well as the difficulties of not operating year round and only needing a garden during the summer.  It is for these reasons that I'm in the progress of developing a program for camps to come learn how they can implement a garden at their sites successfully without too much hassle.  

Of the workshops that I took while at the conferences, my favorite were on Birding and Wildflower Botany, both of which I have incorporated new curriculum from.

I took a lot of photos, but here are some highlights.  AEOE was held at a camp in the Sequoia National Forest and SLC in Palm Springs:

Saddleback Colleges Hosts Annual Faculty Retreat - March 2014

The faculty from Saddleback College held their annual retreat at the OEC for a day of teambuilding, workshops, leadership and more.  Robert Farnsworth of the Horticulture Department led a class on gardening and potting plants.  Their department has created an incredible native plant nursery that students work on first hand and also sell to support their program.  Their student gardens are also a wonderful space for experimental growing and practices.

Visit Saddleback's Horticulture Department

Visit to Camp Stevens in Julian, CA - March 2014

The wwoofs and I had the opportunity to visit Camp Stevens in Julian for the weekend.  Our intent was to see their grounds and operations, specifically their agriculture program where they grow all the produce that they use in their kitchen.  I was dying to see how they do it and was impressed with their growing spaces and practices.

During our visit we were able to tour their compost, chicken coop, garden, large growing lots, trails, high ropes and more.  Their food service was fantastic, offering vegan, vegetarian and GF options at each meal, while also reducing their meat consumption to a few times a week.  It was incredible to see how they put the effort and investment into good food for not only their staff but their campers and guests as well.

I also loved that their curriculum is really focused on environmental stewardship and that their naturalists have flexibility when it comes to which curriculum they will be teaching with students.  It is truly a beautiful camp with many offerings for its area!

Visit Camp Stevens by clicking, here

Visit to the Central Valley to see Griffith Farms and Suntreat - Feb 2014

Michael Jacobus and I had an amazing opportunity to visit Griffith Farms and Suntreat in the Central Valley.  Griffith Farms is the donor of all our amazing citrus trees we have onsite and they offered to show us around their orchards and packaging plants to get a first look at the operations.

It was an amazing day seeing how efficient the process of growing a fruit to selling it all over the world has become.  We essentially followed the path of an orange from tree to truck and it was pretty fascinating to see the intricate designs used to make everything hum and fall into place.

Washing after harvest

 On its way to being sorted

Machine sorts fruit by weight

QC check

Packaging into boxes

Tape being added

On its way to distant destinations!

Tree nursery

SUMO variety