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Guest Spotlight: Eco-Friendly Gardening Checklist

Crystal Williams

By: Dalton West

For many people, gardening is a quiet, relaxing hobby that helps them feel closer to nature. However, many gardening practices don’t positively affect nature to the extent we may believe. For example, Americans use nearly 7 billion gallons of water per day on landscape irrigation, which is about one-third of all the water Americans use each day. Using that much water puts a strain on water supplies and impacts natural resources in other areas. Gardeners also impact the environment in unintended ways by planting non-native plant species, which can affect populations of local plants and even wildlife.

Eco-friendly gardening is becoming more popular as people across the country look to enjoy the benefits of gardening while reducing the harmful effects it may have on the local ecosystem. Through careful planning and good habits, backyard gardens can be a boon to the environment as well as their owners’ mood and well-being. A rain barrel can be kept close by to collect rainwater for watering a garden without depending on outside water supplies, for example. Planting certain types of wildflowers also can help attract birds and helpful insects that can eat harmful pests, which reduces the need for chemical pesticides.

Environment-friendly gardening is easy and just as much fun, while having the added benefits of helping preserve the ecosystem. The tips in the accompanying checklist can help you practice eco-friendly gardening in your backyard. Take a look and see what you can do to make your garden more of a help to the environment

Kids Activities for the Colder Months: Eco-Friendly Furniture

Crystal Williams

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By: Jackie Edwards

Teaching Kids How to Craft Eco-Friendly Garden Furniture

Building with blocks and other play materials helps children develop gross and fine motor skills while also improving cognition and creativity. Seeing as only 62% of high school students in DC complete their secondary schooling in four years due to lack of resources and creative outlets, this seems especially important. Why not turn construction play into real construction? Allowing children to craft their own eco-friendly garden furniture will add a special touch to the garden's atmosphere and help make the space more comfortable. When used as a learning exercise that incorporates the benefits of gardening, crafting eco-friendly garden furniture is a great way to develop life-long skills while also promoting sustainability.

What Kids Should Understand about Eco-Friendly Furniture

Teaching kids how to make sustainable furniture will not only lay a great foundation for construction skills, but it is also a good way to encourage an understanding of sustainability and recycling. Sustainable furniture is made from materials that may be recycled, re-purposed or easily replaced, such as bamboo, which grows back quickly. Once children understand this basic concept, you might ask them to go around the garden, yard or a nature reserve and try to find sustainable materials that could be used in the construction of furniture.

Deciding on the Perfect Type of Furniture to Build

After cultivating a thriving, vivacious garden, encourage children to take a look at the layout and ponder what types of garden furniture would fit within the space. You can make a lot of furniture out of semi-constructed materials such as pallets, which can be a more practical option if you are trying to do this activity with younger children. This is actually one important aspect of sustainability that children should learn about. Ensure that they understand that any furniture that increases efficiency by providing greater utility allows them to use fewer materials, take up less space and solve more than one problem.

Safely Constructing the Garden Furniture 

During this process, try to use as many natural materials as possible, since they will be safer for both the children building the furniture and safer for the environment. For a simple project, you can craft a “green railing” that uses slim planters to create a short railing around a patio or deck. If you are going to look for green building materials, you can ask around at local construction stores in order to recycle what they might be throwing out. You can also do things like making homemade lanterns that hold candles instead of using lights outdoors, or even create rainwater buckets to catch and save rainwater. Building eco-friendly furniture for a garden doesn’t always have to mean creating furniture to sit and lounge on; the more creative you can get, the better!

Like gardening, learning how to craft is a great way for children to participate in sustainable hobbies that benefit the environment and allow them to learn skills that benefit their development. Creating eco-friendly garden furniture can be a fun activity for the whole family or an after-school activity that fosters creativity and gives kids a chance to create something they’re proud of.


Center City - Trinidad Garden News

Crystal Williams

FALL 2018: GARDEN NEWS

Class Spotlight

Kindergarten:

This fall, the kindergarterners have been exploring the rainbow and learning about how each color of the rainbow is important to keep our bodies strong and glowing. We also made some rainbow fruit skewers in class!

2nd and 3rd Grade:

2nd and 3rd graders have also been learning about each color of the rainbow and the specific health benefits they all have on our bodies. To close our rainbow foods theme, they made rainbow salads!

5th and 8th Grade:

Since this program started, we have been working on coming up with activities to do with them to help them build the mentoring relationship. We are looking forward to doing cooking lessons and using the vegetables we have growing in the garden at the school.

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Fall Highlights

Hello from Ms. Salsa and Ms. Allie! We are the garden team at Center City Trinidad Campus this year- maybe you saw us at the Back to School night offering up tomato and mozzarella, or at the Halloween Harvest Fest? This fall, we have been working with kindergarten, second, and third graders every week, offering up nutrition, gardening and science lessons. We've also been putting the fifth and eigth grade buddy program to work in the garden. We're looking forward to seeing more classes this winter, and seeing everybody in the garden come spring.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into ¾’ pieces (approx. 4 cups)

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled

  • ½ sweet onion, peeled and diced

  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • 2 ½ cups water or vegetable broth

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Prepare vegetables, toss with olive oil right on the roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet.

  3. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, cooking until squash is fork tender. Cool for 10 minutes.

  4. Put cooled vegetables into a pot with broth or water and puree using an immersion blender. (or, put vegetables with some broth into blender, to puree, then put in pot).

  5. Warm as needed and add salt and pepper to taste.

Produce In Season

We have been growing carrots, tatsoi, kale, beets, turnips, kale, salad mix, lettuce, and broccoli to name a few. The students can’t wait to try these vegetables! We will also be doing some cooking sessions with the 5th/8th graders in the coming weeks.

Get in touch!

Have thoughts or want to get involved? Get in touch with Salsa at salsabil.chebli@foodcorps.org

Want to know more about our garden partner, Washington Youth Garden, a program of Friends of the National Arboretum? Email Brianne Studer at bstuder@washingtonyouthgarden.org.

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