Digging Deep (at the Danny Woo Garden)

by Lauren Wong

Hello! I’m Lauren, one of two AppleCorps members positioned at the Danny Woo Garden in the Chinatown/International District. We provide garden classes to youth in the neighborhood in the hopes that they’ll learn more about where their food comes from, have a positMagill_DannyWoo_Image (59)ive outdoor experience, and form connections between culture and food. Also incorporated in our program is a healthy cooking component, where we use vegetables harvested from the garden to create delicious salads and snacks.

This spring, I had the pleasure of working with a class of 15 fifth graders from a local after-school program. Since many of them were already acquainted with the garden—either through a previous garden class or a simple meander through the neighborhood—we were able to delve a little deeper into the heart of the garden and what exactly makes it tick.
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We planted microgreen seeds in our own plots and watched them grow, carefully watering and removing weeds each week to gain a sense of the time and effort required to grow our own food. We went on a scavenger hunt to discover the regional origins of different vegetables and dug around in a worm bin looking for critters. We made comfrey compost tea, a great source of nitrogen, and observed it become brown and pungent over time. We prepared an Asian greens salad, a crunchy bok choy slaw, and a sweet and savory dressing that goes well on everything (1 soy sauce: 1 rice vinegar: 1 honey: 2 sesame oil). We harvested garden strawberries and compared them to supermarket strawberries, noticing the differences in taste, color, size, and shape. We investigated seed pods on a mature kale plant, sparking a discussion about the importance of seed saving. And to cap off our time together, we even had an “older kids teach younger kids” tour, where my class of fifth graders brought a class of first graders to the garden and showed them what they learned.

All in all, it was a lovely six weeks of sunshine, food, and joy. Want to learn more about what we do? Visit our blog at dannywookids.blogspot.com.


Apply Now for Apple Corps!

Interested in a year of service? Have a passion for food justice? Apple Corps is hiring AmeriCorps Members for the 2015-16 service year!

Apple Corps, a program of Solid Ground, addresses the root causes of obesity, malnutrition, and hunger in underserved communities and works to promote healthy eating and active living for children living in poverty and experiencing oppression. We are a team of National Service members guided by the belief that all people deserve to live healthful lives. In this work, Apple Corps Members serve at elementary schools in communities where there is a high proportion of food insecurity, decreased access to healthy foods, and increased risk of childhood obesity. As a team of 4 members, Apple Corps serves to: educate school-age children and their families about nutrition, healthy cooking, gardening, and behaviors that promote health.

Apple Corps members will collaborate with Solid Ground staff to teach classroom-based nutrition and healthy cooking lessons to Seattle Public Schools students, using evidence-based curricula, via 10 to 12-week educational units in three elementary schools and nearby community organizations.

Apple Corps is a program of the Washington Service Corps. All service positions are September 16, 2015 – August 15, 2016 (contingent on funding). Visit the MyAmeriCorps for a position description, requirements, and application.

Applications are accepted now through June 21, 2015. For questions, please email applecorps@solid-ground.org

12 Days of Health at Emerson: Challenging ourselves to a healthy holiday season!

Alivia, an energetic second grader at Emerson, taking the jumping jack challenge!

Alivia, an energetic second grader at Emerson, taking the jumping jack challenge!

By Abby Temple

The Emerson Health and Wellness team sat in our monthly meeting, envisioning the cupcake, candy and cookie filled weeks ahead of us. Holiday celebrations present a dilemma for a nutrition/health educator based in an elementary school—how can we encourage our students to make healthy choices while also recognizing the need for celebrations, for special treats, and for a fun ending to a difficult few months of work? How can we stray from labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” and instead, focus on moderation and “sometimes” foods? With these goals in mind,  our team, composed of myself, my co-educator Ms. Paula, a second grade teacher, our P.E. teacher and one of our ELL teachers, came up with the idea of a “12 Days of Health” promotion for the school.

For the 12 days leading up to winter break, our students were given a challenge each day over the morning announcements. The challenges were as follows:

Day 1: One special treat for working so hard!

Day 2: Two push-ups!

Day 3: Three laps around the black top!

Day 4: Four glasses of water!

Day 5: Five minutes of stretching!

Day 6: Six toe-touches!

Day 7: Seven colors of food in your day!

Day 8: Eight squats!

Day 9: Nine high-knees!

Day 10: Ten jumping jacks!

Day 11: Eleven lunges!

Day 12: Twelve minutes of dancing!

For 12 days, Emerson’s morning announcements were dominated by the lovely singing voices of our Emerson staff. We took turns on the announcements each day, singing the challenge to the tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The kids especially loved hearing their P.E. teacher singing—it was quite a treat in itself. I was surprised how many students I actually saw participating in and excited about the challenges. Students stopped me in the hallway to show me their jumping jacks and lunges.  I heard water described as “the most delicious drink ever!” On day twelve, our health challenge culminated in a 12 minute dance party with our first graders. I may have enjoyed the dancing even more than they did. Our super healthy Emerson students are on a great track to a healthy and fun winter break! Happy winter break, Emerson!