REFLECTIONS from bethel
First I would like to start out with a few thanks to some special people and organizations that made our year so successful:
Walmart - a grant for a greenhouse
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and their Community of Gardens - fundraiser supplies for Lettuce Learn
Sow True Seed in Asheville - free seeds for our garden and fundraiser
Local First - a grant to build a new dedicated seed saving bed
Shelton Caldwell - bamboo for our beans to climb on in our new seed saving bed
Blue Ridge Garden Club - a new apple tree
Mr. Justin Eggers - a big pile of compost for our garden beds
ASU Student Interns and Volunteers - helping with the garden and greenhouse
Shannon Carroll - 55-gallon drums to fill with water to warm the new greenhouse
Mr. Richard Tidyman - started the gardens at Bethel--we bid you a fond farewell and happiness in your retirement--you are so missed
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!
During spring 2017 I worked with the Bethel after school students. We made garden plans, picked out seeds, and planted trays of tomatoes, peppers, scallop squash, zucchini,corn, lettuce, peas, beans, luffa, basil, watermelon, radishes, sunflowers, and zinnias. The students painted rocks with their name to mark their bed and plant names for their vegetables. The corn planted was Little Gem from Sow True Seed, which is a popcorn. It was harvested and the students had a popcorn party!
Over the summer I took care of the garden beds and gave our excess produce to Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture's Food Hub located at the Watauga County Agriculture Extension Office to be given to organizations in need of food for the homeless and needy. A arch made from a cattle panel was installed for vining plants and a base was constructed for our new greenhouse to be built spring 2018.
During fall 2017 I worked with Ms. Eldreth's 6th, 7th, and 8th grade CTE classes. We picked the apples at Bethel and the students cored, peeled, and sliced apples and placed half of them in a dehydrator to make snacks. The other half was made into apple butter which all the students sampled. All the while the students were working hard in the garden beds weeding, mulching, and picking vegetables and raspberries. As the season went by, the students and I harvested seeds to use for next year and to share with the Watauga Seed Library. In October Bethel had a fall festival and the students and I made cookies to sell as a fundraiser for the garden. The students voted on the cookies they wanted to make and we made snickerdoodles, white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter kisses, and chocolate chip. The bake sale made almost $70.00 for garden supplies. We spent the rest of the season cleaning out beds, adding compost, and planting cover crops. A wonderful growing season!!
,At Bethel School we have 11 raised beds for students to plant and grow their own food. I explained to the students that more than 30% of our food relies on pollinators like bees, butterflies, and wasps in order to produce the vegetables and fruits we eat. I also emphasized how important it is to grow organically without pesticides and chemicals to keep our pollinators alive and healthy. Thanks to a Captain Planet grant, we now have a pollinator garden to help our fruits and vegetables thrive.
We began our pollinator project at Bethel School on May 18, by picking up our pollinator plants we received from Gardens of the Blue Ridge. We received two of each plant: American Columbine, Butterfly Weed, Blue Indigo, Lance Leaf Coreopsis, Pale Purple Conefllower, Rough Blazing Star, Spiked Grayfeather, Cardinal Flower, Blue Lobelia, Wild Bergamot, Black-eyed Susan, Goldenrod, Stiff Goldenrod, Smooth Aster, New England Aster, and Ironweed.
We began our pollinator gardens on May 19 by preparing the sites. With the 7th and 8th grade students we began planting our pollinator gardens and later, with the grade 6 students, installed pollinator habitat and no spray signs.
Click on this link to view the slides our grade 6, 7, and 8 students created with the photos they took of our pollinator plants and their own comments:
We are having a great summer season at Bethel Elementary! The photos below show ONE DAYS WORTH of harvest of all the raised beds at Bethel. It's truly amazing. The garden at Bethel has simply blossomed and we are growing so many wonderful things. We've had plenty of excess produce that is going to the Quiet Givers' Western Watauga Food Outreach. I am so enjoying my garden coordinator position here at Bethel. Soon the students will be back and we can plant a fall garden, as well as have lots of fun and educational projects such as a canning workshop and cooking the harvest together. I can't wait!
Also, the Farm Tour at the ASU Edible Schoolyard was awesome! We didn't have a whole lot of visitors, but those who came loved the garden and I had a great time giving tours. My ASU interns participated and did a wonderful job and the Lettuce Learn Table with the kid's activities was fantastic! I hope there are many more local garden farm tours in the future.
You will know your garlic is ready to harvest when about half a dozen leaves are turning brown. Start by pulling up just one or two plants. If the cloves are still small and wrapped in many layers, they need a little more time. If the bulbs are beggining to split, they have been left in too long. So picky! But when they look like the garlic pictured on the left, they are JUST right! Delicious!
The Bethel School Garden has 11 raised beds in production. Four beds have been planted by the first grade class and the remainder by the 7th and 8th grade classes. In the school atrium we have also planted six window boxes, weeded, and cleaned up the area. The school (Mr. Orange) has received a grant from Lowes to supply the atrium with new pavers and plants in July.
The 7th and 8th grade classes built 3 new raised beds and filled all the beds with compost. With the help of teacher Richard Tidyman, they also constructed a hoop house for the tomato bed to protect the plants from blight.
The students have planted strawberries, beans, peas, kale, lettuce, cabbage, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, leeks, turnips, spinach, green pumpkins, a variety of winter squash, parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, oregano, tansy, and sunflowers.
Recently we made a salad from oak leaf lettuce harvested--our first taste of spring!
Debbie learned about gardening from her grandmother and has had a vegetable garden for most of her adult life. She is the Garden Coordinator and "Grandparent garden mentor" at Bethel Elementary and loves sharing her joy and knowledge of gardening with students, teachers, and Bethel community. She also manages the Appalachian State University Edible Schoolyard.
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture Office
P.O. Box 67 | 969 W King Street
Boone, NC 28607