Plant Swap on March 10th in Dunwoody

WHAT: Dunwoody North Civic Association’s 2nd Annual Plant Exchange


WHEN: Saturday, March 10th, 10-12 pm

WHERE: Parking lot of Dunwoody North Driving Club, 4522 Kingsgate Drive  Dunwoody, GA 30338

BRING: Any surplus plants (i.e., hostas, day lilies, etc.). For every plant you bring, you take one home. “So take stock of your surplus, fill those pots and come take part in the fun.” (DNCA February Newsletter)

Cabbage Day: Best Farm to School Lunch Yet!

“Do you have a recipe for this? It’s actually good!”

That was the feedback from one fifth grader at last week’s Farm to School Cabbage Day, at which Chesnut’s students were truly celebrating locally grown cabbage — especially the Kindergarteners and 2nd graders. Because of complications with preparing the fresh food in previous months, these classes had not been served the Georgia grown food of the month since Granny Smith Apple Day back in October. Chesnut Changer Kindergarteners Megan McCloskey and Sophia Hernandez were so happy that their class could once again participate in the hand-stamp promotion that they awarded every cabbage eater at Ms. Hobgood’s table double hand stamps! The Kindergarteners’ enthusiasm was reflected in the turnout – 100% of the Kindergartenerss who bought lunch tasted their cabbage.

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As Chesnut Changers reported on their classes’ tasting statistics throughout the lunch period, the numbers coming in showed that our program is having an impact. You might guess that apples would be more popular than cabbage, but comparing the marketing reports from Apple Day and Cabbage Day, we see that last week 9 classes had an 89% or better cabbage tasting rate among kids who bought lunch (6 of the 9 classes had 100% tasting rates). Four months earlier, the highest tasting rate for Granny Smith apples was 73%.

And it wasn’t just about taking a symbolic taste and throwing the rest away. Many students ate their entire serving of cabbage, one commenting, “Once my mom made this in soup and it tasted so delicious. I think I’m going to eat all of mine.”

We know too that the promotion is a contributing factor to the local food’s popularity, as several students, seeing their classmates getting hand-stamped, ran back through the lunchline to select some cabbage. Five Chesnut Changer registration forms (with optional involvement in the after-school meetings) were quickly given away to students requesting to join the program. Next lunch we will be sure to bring a larger supply of these.

When It Rains, It Pours – Into Chesnut’s New Rainbarrels!

At Chesnut’s February Clean & Beautiful Day, Chesnut Changers added a new element of sustainability to Chesnut’s grounds: four 60-gallon rainbarrels. The water they collect is not for drinking (we labeled them as such) because rainwater coming off the roof may be contaminated; rather our vegetable and butterfly gardens will be the happy recipients of the rainfall the rainbarrels capture.

These were graciously donated by two local environmental heroes:  Advance Drum, Inc. in Marietta who provided the drums, and the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeepers (UCR). who gave the kits necessary to daisy-chain the barrels off the downspout. Our thanks go out to these organizations, as well as Chesnut parent Daryl Pitts, who nearly single-handedly leveled, assembled and secured the four rainbarrels on Clean and Beautiful Day.

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Advance Drum helps the Earth by recycling or reconditioning industrial containers to be reused. In a previous life, our rainbarrels were containers that carried syrup for Coca-Cola. Now they have a healthier purpose:  conserving water and growing vegetables!

Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeepers (UCR) — whose Headwaters Outreach Manager Bonny Putney orchestrated these donations — generously provided the EarthMinded installation kits, which are specially designed to keep out mosquitoes, and to allow the normal flow of water to continue out the downspout once the rainbarrels are full. UCR works to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee River, its lakes, and its tributaries through its programs, one of which is a Rainbarrel Workshop!

AT-HOME ACTION: Install your own rainbarrel(s)! Save yourself upwards of 5 laundry loads’ worth of water by watering your outdoor garden with captured rainfall. While a rainbarrel drum and installation kit goes for more than $100 on the Internet, taking UCR’s Rainbarrel Workshop gives you the rainbarrel, installation kit and informative crash-course on Atlanta’s watershed – all for $40! Have room to add more than one rainbarrel? Bonny Putney may have extras you can purchase at her UCR workshop, or go to Advance Drum, who sells the 60-gallon drums for $25 (1835 Dickerson Drive, Mableton, Georgia  30126).

Questions about rainbarrel installation? Email us at

Giant Purple Carrot Eaters

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“Thank you so much for working on the garden and sharing the harvest. My class loved coming out there and tasting the carrots last week. My favorite student quote was, “I have never had anything THIS fresh before!” You have encouraged me to garden at home too!” — Chesnut 3rd Grade Teacher Mrs. Clein Earlier […]

Chesnut Changer’s Report: Esha Bhat, 2nd Grader

Chesnut Changer's Report

On February 7th, after school, we went in the Chesnut garden. When we got there, we split into three groups. Here are the groups we were in:

1. Gardening group

2.Tomato seeds planting group

3. Painting the garden sign group

The gardening group was growing cabbage. We were having lots of fun because we were planting tomato seeds in the makeshift container from used toilet rolls. In the painting group, we painted signs on wooden panels.

-by Esha Bhat, 2nd grade

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Where Did It Come From? And Where Is It Going?

Harrison Thomas' "AWESOME Lunch Box"

At our after-school meeting last month, the Chesnut Changers considered the origins and destinations of the “stuff” we use every day. First we educated ourselves about what happens after we throw something in a garbage or recycling bin, by watching snippets of the following videos:
(The first made the kids laugh) Funny Recycling PSA

We paused along the way to talk about best practices to reduce pollution and waste. The kids answered questions such as:
1. What uses less resources such as water, electricity, oil, gas, quartz, aluminum, trees – creating new products or recycling?

“Recycling aluminum reduces the need to mine fresh bauxite ore to meet demand, lessening environmental damage caused by the mining process. Plastic may not be as repeatedly recyclable as aluminum, but finding new uses for reclaimed plastics conserves petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Glass production uses common raw materials like quartz sand, but the energy saved by manufacturing with recycled glass reduces carbon emissions.”– US EPA: Communicating the Benefits of Recycling)
2. Landfills
– What if a landfill’s liner leaks?
– Decomposing garbage releases methane gas, some of which is captured for energy – what happens to methane that leaks out?
– Do plastic and glass break down in a landfill (under best conditions plastic takes over 500 years and glass takes over 4000)?
– Do the compostable materials (like paper, food scraps, plant-based disposables) in a landfill get enough oxygen to break down and does its liner allow them to return to the Earth?

3. Out of what do YOU usually drink and eat your snacks – something reusable or disposable?

4. Better than recycling, which also uses water and energy; what can we do to keep things out of landfills? (The kids supplied:  reuse before buying new; turn trash to treasure; clothes and toy swap before throwing away; use reusable things rather than disposable.)

Then we got to work, repurposing milk and juice jugs into reusable food and snack containers. Here’s the method we used.

Chesnut Changer Miyah Jones devised a simple way to align the Velcro latch:  put the hook and loop pieces together first, next affix one side to one of the flaps, then close up the container and press down to affix the remaining sticky side to closing flap.

Chesnut Changer Harrison Thomas dubbed his creation “HARRISON’S AWESOME LUNCH BOX.” He’s right. It is pretty awesome to give new life to something you were going to throw away.


Free Chesnut Garden Produce…With a Catch

Chesnut staff may find a surprise the next time they open the refrigerator door in the teachers’ lounge: a bag of veggies or herbs from Chesnut’s garden. Recently, Chesnut Changer Garden Leader Carissa Malone has left bags of freshly harvested cilantro and bunches of beets, free for the taking, but there is a catch. We want to hear how the recipient liked their gift! Ms. Malone leaves a note asking teachers to let her know how they enjoyed the veggie, sharing recipes and pictures if they can.

Third grade teachers Ms. Stacia Brown and Ms. Clein have already weighed in – delicious! Ms. Brown garnished her chicken noodle soup with some fresh cilantro, and Ms. Clein added it to homemade pizza and chicken tortilla soup. She says, “It was just the right touch!”

Gardening isn’t only about fresh food, it’s also about sharing and building community. Ms. Clein extended the generosity of Chesnut’s garden by sharing her cilantro with her mother, who used it for homemade salsa. Here is her mother’s recipe, which Ms. Clein says was “yummy” especially because she used fresh ingredients.

AT-HOME ACTION: Homemade Salsa!

Texas Caviar

(Substitute fresh ingredients when possible)
> 1 can of black eyed peas (drain)
> 1 can of shoe peg corn (drained)
> 2 medium tomatoes or 2 (14oz) cans of petite cut tomatoes
> 4 green onions (chop the green part)
> 1 medium green pepper (chop)
> 1 bunch of Chestnut school grown cilantro (1/4 –/3 cup) ( I use kitchen scissors to cut up leafy part)
> 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar
> 1 jar of picante sauce
> Mix all ingredients. Serve with chips or over fish/chicken. Enjoy!