Coconut Collards for All!

In March’s Ecology Club meeting, the fourth and fifth graders accomplished much in only one hour. First they harvested three planters of collard greens that were going to seed, and cleared all the decaying plant parts to the compost pile. Then they washed up and divided their harvest into bags they delivered to more than a dozen teachers of their choosing. Meanwhile, some cooked up a batch of greens for tasting, while others made hand-written copies of the recipe to attach to the teachers’ collard greens bundles.

Whistling While We Work

The students paired off to efficiently harvest more than a dozen collard green plants Ms. Little’s 2nd/3rd grade Ecology group had planted in Chesnut Garden. One partner snipped away, while the other made trips to the compost pile with decaying leaves. The students were so content performing this task that they started up a cheery work song — the theme song to the “Little Einsteins” children’s show. No one felt too old or too cool to join in. They were like happy worker bees. And they were very pleased with the outcome of their efforts – they filled up one tall yard waste paper bag!

While we worked, Mrs. Renals quizzed the students on their gardening knowledge, and they were quick to help each other deduce:

  • Smaller collard green leaves taste more tender and sweeter than bigger/older leaves.
  • We remove all decaying material from our garden because it attracts decomposers who might eat our new plantings.
  • Collard green flowers look and taste like broccoli because the plants are related, as they are to all cruciferous vegetables, including brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and bok choi.
  • Dark leafy greens are a rich source of calcium, in place of dairy.
  • Perennial edibles that don’t have to be reseeded every year in Georgia include: herbs like rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, mint; fruit trees, berry brambles, grape vines and asparagus.

Coconut Greens Gift Bags – Chesnut Changer Approved!

The students were proud of their bounty, and so, as soon as all hands were scrubbed, Ms. Sule organized the distribution of greens. Ms. Renals’ favorite part was the students’ excitement at choosing the recipients: “Can we give a bag of greens to Ms. Q?!” They loved making personal deliveries, and in one case, Mya Burrowes left a note in her teacher’s mailbox, telling her where to find her stashed bag of greens in the teachers’ lounge. They were like garden elves, and they loved the giving. They made more than a dozen bundles, attaching a “Coconut Collard Greens” recipe to each one.

Meanwhile, Sofia Renals and Madison Hummel worked together to cook up a small batch of Coconut Collards for tasting. Students and teachers alike came back for more, and the kids were impressed at how delicious something so healthy could be.

At-Home Action Icon canstockphoto2179142At-Home Action: Make Coconut Greens

  • One bunch greens (like collards, kale, swiss chard, cabbage, bok choi)
  • One tablespoon coconut oil
  • Salt

Chop greens into 2″ squares. Heat coconut oil in skillet on medium heat. Toss greens in skillet for 5 to 10 minutes. Salt to taste and enjoy!

Making a Home for Mason Bees at Chesnut

IMG_0524When the fourth and fifth graders voted on second semester Chesnut Changer activities, they agreed they wanted to do more to take care of animals in our environment. Some suggested building birdhouses or bat houses. Then we remembered that insects are part of the animal kingdom, and we might do something that was beneficial to both the bugs and our garden.

So in our February meeting, we read this article together to learn how honeybee populations are suffering, making it difficult for these pollinators to handle all our nation’s crops. We watched excerpts from this “Growing a Greener World” episode about mason bees to discover how this native bee is a hard-working, gentle pollinator that rarely stings.

Then we got to work using recycled materials (paper grocery bags, toilet paper rolls, reused flower pot) to create a place for mason bees to nest. We also filled two reused canisters brought from home to send more mason bee nests out into the world. The students finished by drafting a letter to the Facilities Action Team Chair to ask for help with the Chesnut Garden installation:ScanAt-Home Action Icon canstockphoto2179142AT-HOME ACTION:  Raise Mason Bees to Grow Our Bee Population

By making your own mason bee nests, and participating in the Crown Bees company’s “Bee BuyBack” program, your family can help increase our country’s pollinator population. For more information, go to the “When to Do What” tab on the Crown Bees website.

Chesnut Changer’s Report: Ariyon Malone, 5th Grader

Chesnut Changer's Report

Today we went searching for different kinds of leaves outside our school. We found some evergreen trees with spruce, pine, holly, and ivy leaves. We also found some deciduous trees with several other leaves including beech, magnolia, sycamore, field maple, and oak leaves. We also found a few pine cones. When we found all we needed we went back inside and made leaf glitter by crunching the leafs. After that we glued them on posters to give to our teachers. Ecology was great! We all had a good time.
IMG_0023
Ariyon Malone

Sat., Nov. 8th: Dunwoody Recycles at Georgia Perimeter College

WHAT:  City of Dunwoody’s Annual Recycling Event 

WHEN: Saturday, November 8, 12 – 3 pm

WHO:  Dunwoody Residents Only with driver’s license or other proof of residency

WHERE:  Georgia Perimeter College, 2101 Womack Road, Parking Lot 11 (Traveling East on Womack Rd, turn right in to the first GPC entrance)

Items Accepted:

  • Aerosols
  • Adhesives, resins, and epoxies
  • Batteries
  • Paper documents to be shredded
  • Mercury debris/articles/devices
  • Lawn care products and pesticides
  • Automotive products
  • Fluorescent bulbs
  • Photo chemicals
  • Hobby and artist supplies
  • Paints and Paint-related products
  • Pharmaceuticals (no DEA controlled substances)
  • Cleaners and swimming pool chemicals

Items Not Accepted

  • Agricultural wastes
  • Ammunition
  • Bio-hazardous/bio-medical waste
  • Explosives
  • Radioactive materials
  • Poisons (rat, rodent, and insect repellents)
  • Syringes, IV bags, or other medical waste

Questions?  Contact Rebecca.Keefer@dunwoodyga.gov or 678-382-6800

Chesnut Changers Become Predators, Prey and Migratory Fowl

Our first 4th/5th grader Ecology Club meeting was our best kick-off meeting yet, because of guest leader William Betz, who recently graduated UGA with a Bachelor’s of Science in Forestry. Known to many of the kids as “Billy,” the head lifeguard at the neighborhood pool, Mr. Betz was immediately enthusiastic when asked to teach our kids some of what he knows. He devised and led two games to teach us about animal survival skills and habitat loss.
First we played the Thicket Game, in which the “predator” must stand in one place, close his/her eyes and count to 30 while all the other “prey” hide. Whichever prey the predator can see from his/her vantage point is called out and becomes a predator for the next round, during which the prey must move closer to the predator. Mr. Betz led the pre-game discussion, during which the students named animal adaptations that help prey survive (i.e., camouflage, scaling trees, etc.). As we played, we paused to think about why prey would ever intentionally move closer to its predator (i.e., habitat loss), and what made some of the students acting as prey better at “staying alive” (i.e., staying still, wearing colors that blended in with the environment).
Next we moved to the lower field to become migratory water birds. For this Migration Headache game, Mr. Betz created three areas:  the nesting habitat, stopover habitat and wintering habitat. The kids gave examples of migratory water fowl (herons, cranes, etc.) and then transformed into their best bird-selves (one stretching the definition to become a dragon instead), flapping their wings and cawing as they migrated from the nesting habitat to the stopover habitat. At first, there were enough stopover bases for all the birds, but as the game progressed, habitat loss occurred, and some slightly tearful birds had no place to land. They cheered up when they became baby birds in the nesting habitat by the game’s end, at which point we discussed human events (draining a swamp for new construction, polluting water) and natural events (drought, avalanche, tsunami) that create habitat loss.

When Mr. Betz asked what humans could do to help, the kids suggested making laws to preserve natural wildlife habitats, creating national parks, and planting trees.

The Chesnut Changers thank Billy Betz for lending his expertise and time to make our first meeting so informative and action-packed!

Where Can You Buy Organic Seedlings Locally?

dcg plant saleWHAT: Dunwoody Community Garden Fall Plant Sale (Includes organically grown cool weather vegetables and perennials)

WHEN: Sunday, October  5, 1-4 pm

WHERE: Inside Brook Run Park

VEGETABLES:

Arugula (Rocket and Wild)
Collards
Cilantro
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cauliflower
Mustard Greens
Bok Choy
Lettuce (Several varieties)
Endive
Kale (Italian and Blue)
Kohlrabi
Dill

PERENNIALS:

Columbine
Hellebores
Japanese Maple Trees (small)
Hollyhocks
Candy Lily
Balloon Flower
Toad Lily