Nurturing the Eagle Nest

Working together to beautify the school habitat for our soaring eagles!


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Garden Grower: Cemex!

Our garden project is getting ready to make a big leap forward.  Wednesday Cemex will deliver the 400 cull concrete blocks they generously donated to our school garden project!  Cull blocks have minor imperfections but are perfectly wonderful for our planting beds!  Concrete block beds are well-suited to school gardens.  They keep little feet off of growing plants, keep the soil from compacting and are incredibly durable (and crazy heavy).  We’ve read concrete block planting beds can wick away water and require more watering but we’re looking at techniques to lessen the water requirement.  If you’d like to share your appreciation for Cemex, comment below and we’ll make sure they hear your appreciation!

We’ll highlight our ‘Garden Growers‘ throughout the process.  Do you know a potential ‘Garden Grower’?  Comment below.

How can you help?

If you plan to attend Fun with Math at school on Wednesday (10/1/14) night at 6:30 p.m. you’ll get to see our garden vision for the school, our progress and hear the myriad ways that you can help.  With the arrival of the blocks and the impending arrival of cubic yards of garden soil and mulch we’ll need a group of volunteers that love hard sweaty work!  Sign-up Wednesday night or email fsesgardenteam@gmail.com

Other ways to help?  Donations (of course!), garden tools and a wheelbarrow (gently used is fine!), garden whirligigs, bamboo and donations of your time (the weeds will happen!). There are many ways to help.  Keep checking back with this blog or email us.  The more FSES community involvement the better our garden with grow!

Sheet Mulching Progress

About 2/3 of the total garden area is now covered in a thick layer of recycled cardboard.  A group of friendly 2nd graders helped haul a tarp full of cardboard to the garden site today, thanks guys!

So many of the students have paused to ask ‘What’s with all the cardboard? What are you making? When can I help?’.  When they hear we are creating a garden that they get to work with they are thrilled.  ‘Cool! Wow! Don’t plant cauliflower, I don’t like it.’  Our students are very savvy about gardens too.  When asked how the cardboard will help our garden most of them know the worms will chew it up and create new soil.  Wait until they sample a tomato they helped to grow or identified a beneficial garden predator and showed his or her classmates.  The lessons are endless.

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The future of our FSES Garden, enter your garden name idea in the contest at Fun with Math night, is in this tray, safely ensconced in the misting tent at Gray Mockingbird Community Garden.  Beets, tomatoes, spinach and Brussels sprouts waking up with soil and water and performing their seed magic.  We’ll end with this post with a quote:

The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.”

Gertrude Jekyll, British horticulturist, garden designer, artist and writer.

Have a favorite quote about gardening or nature, comment below.  We’re always looking for inspiration.

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Starting Seedlings & Gardener Personalities

FSES students and parents (and 1 grandparent!) started seeds at Gray Mockingbird Community Garden today.  Tomatoes, spinach, beets, Brussels sprouts, eggplant and okra, to name a few.  Gray Mockingbird Community Garden will keep our seed starter trays in their misting tent until we’re ready to put them in our planting beds in a few weeks.  And per Andrea, we sprinkled the top of our planted starter tray with ground cinnamon to prevent the top of the soil from getting too wet and ruining the seedlings.  Brian and Andrea also gave us a big bag of seeds to sow directly into the planting beds.  We will also create seed tape for our tiny seeds (radishes, carrots), seed tape video.  Andrea again!   Some seeds will get started in the STEM classroom when FSES students will poke holes in soil bags and drop in flower seeds (gotta attract those pollinators!).  Little by little the garden is moving along!

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Perhaps it is something to do with working with dirt and expecting good things but accepting its not up to them but gardeners are kind, generous and lovely people.  Andrea and Brian at Gray Mockingbird Community Garden are the archetype, if there is one.  Bags of seeds, space on the garden site, responding to endless questions and emails and all with a smile (see below).  Whatever our garden becomes Brian and Andrea have had a giant, unseen hand in its development.  If you meet these people, visit their garden or can send a silent ‘THANK YOU’ – please do so.

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Most of the garden site space is covered in cardboard.  The school recently received 30 desktop computers and those cardboard boxes are now contributing to the health of our soil!  Several 4th graders helped remove packing tape, break down the boxes, water the area and cover with stones.  Thanks guys.

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Don’t miss Fun with Math night this Wednesday, October 1st at 6:30!

The Garden Team will have a table at Math night this Wednesday.  We’ll have information on our garden plans, ways you can help and students will have the opportunity to enter an idea in a ‘Name the Garden’ contest.  Start thinking of name ideas now and maybe you’ll have the winner.  (Yes, there is a prize!)


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The Journey Begins

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Our school, Freedom Shores Elementary, is embarking on a journey.  The school plans to build a garden, rehab a butterfly garden and improve small growing plots throughout the grounds.  The students will benefit from this process in many ways,   science, math, engineering, art and improved awareness of nature and their surroundings to name a few.

This blog was created to document that process, encourage community involvement and give thanks to our helpers along the way.  The blog is published and coordinated with volunteer support.  We are not paid or endorsed by Freedom Shores Elementary School or the Palm Beach County School District.

If you are a Freedom Shores parent, member of our surrounding community and/or interested in our process please check back regularly.  We plan to post photos and updates often.

The photo above is the planned space for our raised bed garden and serenity path and was taken Tuesday, September 23rd.  The ground is thickly covered in grass and weeds and has a 12 inch drain in the middle of the space.

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Here is the same space Thursday, September 25th.  When starting this project we had lots of good things in our favor and one of those is that we definitely knew we didn’t know much about gardening.  But, we had enthusiasm and a willingness to seek out help.  Our first stop to seek answers was the Gray Mockingbird Community Garden in Lake Worth, Florida.  Brian and Andrea at Gray Mockingbird were so happy to share information, point us in a positive direction and respond to many questions and emails.  It was Andrea that explained sheet mulching to us.  Sheet mulching uses compostable material to cover kill the current growth (grass and weeds), encourage beneficial composters to enrich our soil and maintain the integrity of the soil.  “Don’t till”, said Andrea.  We want to keep our soil healthy and help it by adding the compostable material.  So, now our garden space is ‘mostly’ covered in cardboard.

We will be returning to Gray Mockingbird Community Garden on Saturday (September 27th) at 10:30 a.m. to start seeds in starter pots that Gray Mockingbird will keep in their misting tent for us so we’ll have lovely little seedlings to plant in our new planting beds in a few weeks.  We’d love to see FSES students and parents and you won’t regret visiting Gray Mockingbird Community Garden.

So, welcome, the journey begins.