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.

Throwback Thursday: Emerson Celebrates a Year of Successful Composting!

By Lisa Woo

As our Americorps terms comes to an end (July 15th is the last day for a handful of our team members) it is hard not to get sentimental about the past year of service. This end of term is especially nostalgic for me as I complete a two year chapter with the Apple Corps program. So, in honor of the amazing community I have had the chance to work with and all that they have taught me, here’s a little Throwback Thursday!

All year long, students at Emerson Elementary, the site school where I have taught nutrition education, have been exploring their role as Earth Stewards through a school-wide lunchroom composting initiative co-led by myself, and our fellow Apple Corps Member, Randa who served as the Active Play Coordinator. Together, we developed a student-led “Compost Hero” lunchroom monitor program that was able to engaged every student at each grade level. In addition, we held several health promotions throughout the year that allowed students to understand the close connection between environmental and personal health!

Students at Emerson embraced the title of "Compost Hero" with their fearless leader, Ms. Randa, a fellow Apple Corps Member (pictured top center)

Students at Emerson embraced the title of “Compost Hero” with their fearless leader, Ms. Randa, a fellow Apple Corps Member (pictured top center)

One such promotion was our Earth Day: Caught Green Handed Celebration, which challenged students to do good deeds for the earth and identify the ripple effects those acts have on their community. Students enjoyed posing in our “Caught” picture frame and having their photos displayed proudly throughout the school hallways.

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Students turning compost into our school garden beds.

The year ended strong with a final school-wide competition that pitted primary grade levels (Kindergarten, First, and Second) against the intermediate grade levels (Third, Fourth, and Fifth) in a Food Waste Challenge similar to the promotion held at Concord Elementary (see link). The challenge was a great way to wrap up a year of compost education and stimulated great conversation among students about how important reducing food waste is for both our bodies and our earth, despite having a fantastic alternative waste deposit system. Paired with quality time in the garden and hands on worm explorations our final week of composting was nothing short of fantastic!

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A group of students deeply engrossed in their worm exploration!

Great job, Emerson Eagles!

Things get WILD at the Danny Woo Community Gardens

Siena Ezekiel and Vania Chan in the Children's Garden

Siena (left) the Volunteer Coordinator and Vania (right) the Youth Garden Educator at the Danny Woo Community Gardens

Spring gardening is just around the corner, so we are excited to share an update from our two Apple Corps Members over at the Danny Woo Community Gardens.  Youth garden education is just one way that the Apple Corps Program reaches out to the community to education and empower children and families to make healthy eating choices. Enjoy this update from Siena and Vania!

Greetings from Siena and Vania! We are the Apple Corps members serving at the Danny Woo Community Garden site located in the culturally rich and vibrant International District of Seattle. While our initial plunge into service in the fall felt like a hard sprint into our Children’s Garden programs with Bailey Gatzert Elementary School and Denise Louie Education Center, for winter, we’ve mostly retreated indoors. Lately we’ve been occupied with planning for spring classes, researching and writing grants to fund our programs, and learning about how to better care for the varieties of apple, Asian pear, and pear trees in the garden.

Despite the current season not being favorable for growing plants or being outside, we have had the pleasure and excitement of developing and leading a new, lively initiative with Wilderness Inner-city Leadership Development (WILD) youth program that runs through our shared parent organization, InterIm Community Development Association (InterIm CDA). Over February and March, we are hosting a series of five workshops geared around food & sustainability. The content and structure are centered on stimulating thought and shared discussion over the hub theme of food origins, which is connected to spokes such as personal and cultural ties and elaborations, ecological considerations, economy, migration, social transformation and evolution. Much of this is accomplished through hands-on and culinary activities—yum! Good for our energy and cerebral needs!

In the two sessions we’ve hosted so far, we’ve prepared an “Asian” Quinoa Salad as well as Glutinous Rice Balls with Peanut Filling. “Asian” Quinoa Salad was a dish that was surprisingly tasty for the teens and gave grounds for discussion about the authenticity of “fusion” food as well as how cultures evolve through sharing and the process of migration. Glutinous Rice Balls with Peanut Filling was a dish that was suggested and led by one of the elder gardeners from Danny Woo Community Garden named Ms. Chen—she graciously partners with us in our youth and children’s programs to share her knowledge and experience. By working alongside the youth, she was able to casually speak about the social and health benefits she has personally reaped from gardening at the Danny Woo Community Garden for the past five years! Ms. Chen also revealed a bit of background about her life before her immigration where she was a doctor in China. This partnership fulfills one of the main goals of the Danny Woo Children’s Garden—which is to form an intergenerational bridge between the experienced elder gardeners and the urban youth who are living and/or going to school in the neighborhoods surrounding the garden.

We really appreciate Ms. Chen’s dedication, knowledge, and energetic and endearing spirit among the youth and children.  We’re looking forward to the upcoming weeks when we will have more chances to become familiar with the WILD youth through the workshops.  We’ve planned activities such as a sensory tour of the garden (we’re waiting for a dry day!) and talking about the benefits of micro-organisms that help make compost, soil, and delightful foods such as kimchi.  Keep checking in with us to know what’s up in the Danny Woo Community Garden!

October is International Walk to School Month!

By Zoe Harris, Feet First

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Every October, students and families across the world celebrate getting to school without a car. International Walk to School Month, IWALK, promotes health, safety and community by reminding us all of the joys and benefits found in the simple act of walking to school. So far, nearly 4,000 schools in the United States have registered their IWALK campaigns.

IWALK events are up and running across Seattle with many more to begin on Walk to School Day, October 9th. Students at Olympic Hills Elementary just barely missed the torrential rain last Tuesday on their weekly walking event, “Two Feet Tuesdays.” Apple Corps supervisor Samantha Brumfield will be joining next Tuesday dressed as the Feet First Chicken. Roxhill Elementary had an impressive turnout on its first “Fuel Free Friday.” Many families joined parent-led Walking School Buses. Upon arrival students at both schools receive a toe token for their backpack and a punch on their “frequent walking cards.”

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At Feet First we are hosting our second annual IWALK Challenge where schools across Washington can win prizes and recognition for their IWALK events. Last year, Saddle Mountain Elementary School in the rural Wahluke School District won the grand prize after three elementary schools joined together for a one day walking event. Over 900 people participated and each student was given a certificate signed by all three principals. The 4th and 5th graders at West Seattle Elementary led an IWALK event last year and got their peers walking and biking to school. For their hard work they received 35 pairs of sneakers. We are excited to see what this year holds!

Seattle schools working to start or bolster a Safe Routes to School Program should look into the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Mini Grants. Grants of up to $1,000 can be used for student safety patrol, Walk to School Day events, pedestrian education campaigns and much more. Applications are due October 25th.

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Happy International Walk to School Month!