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Archive for the month “April, 2017”

Soil Therapy

The first time I heard the words soil therapy was when I had come from a particularly difficult exam. I remember Theri asking how it had gone and me stating that it was *pause* difficult (there were children around, I couldn’t express how I really felt). Theri had responded that all I needed was a little soil therapy as a way for me to destress from that exam. From that moment on, it’s been something I think about when I enter Good Shepherd Montessori School.

Today is April 4, 2017 in Notre Dame, IN. Just before typing this up in the poverty studies lounge, I was responding to some emails and doing my macroeconomics homework. In an hour, I plan on attending a talk about transitioning from life as a college student to a CPA (I am an accounting major with a supplementary major in statistics and a minor in poverty studies). My week is planned out pretty precisely, with Wednesday my busiest day of classes, meetings, and events and Thursday the day I can sleep in thanks to the GSMS spring break. Come to think of it, even in high school I constantly had a set routine because of the many sports and activities I loaded myself with to keep busy. I’ve not only learned to love routine, but to need it. That may be why Theri’s words of soil therapy have resonated with me so much. Though you may argue that my internship with GSMS is in itself a routine, the work that I do for those few hours a week feel anything but. I love mixing the fresh batch of compost, sneaking in a smell of that amazing basil, and pricking out the seedlings with the weekly farm group. I think sometimes we lose touch with the very earth that so graciously allows us to live on it. Getting back to the basics of soil and seeds has allowed me to connect with the land and want to continue to preserve it in a way that’s so different from my previous experience in corporate farming with migrant farmworkers. There’s such beauty in students planting seeds and watching them week after week as they peep out of the ground and then grow larger and larger. It’s a relaxing and calming feeling to escape social media or homework to just enjoy the natural soil and life cycle of plants.

Here are some important things I have learned from my time so far:

  1. Horticulture is both a science and an art form. It is amazing to see that everything has a precise way of living and prospering.
  2. Going off of that, chickens incubate for 21 days, exactly. Amazing.
  3. Lupines are not good seed starters.
  4. Cilantro prefers cold weather.
  5. Middle schoolers at GSMS are way better at science than I am.

Here are some important steps I’ve taken as a result of my semester so far (stay tuned for more to come)

  1. I no longer use plastic bags at the grocery store
  2. I try and eat at local restaurants as much as possible
  3. I try and shop at local grocery stores/farmer’s markets as much as possible
  4. I hope to enroll in Theri’s class at Notre Dame, TBD!

I hope that soil therapy will continue to be there for me for that next hard exam because I will definitely need it.

CindyIMG_6752 (1)

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Benefits of Gardening With Kids

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After a semester interning at Good Shepard Montessori, I learned how important it is for kids to learn how to garden. Here are a few things that stood out to me these past few months.

Hands on Learning

Being in an environment that engages their senses can stimulate creative and critical thinking skills to make them question the world around them. This is different than memorizing facts or taking a standardized test. They’ll have visuals of plant life cycles, soil ecology, and ecosystems around them.

It Get’s Them Outdoors

With so many indoor distractions, “Go outside and play,” doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to. Gardening could help them get a breath of fresh air. Especially if you’re out there spending quality time with them. They’ll have a project to do with you and may want to stick around to see it succeed.

It Fine Tunes Your Own Skills

There’s no better way to become a master at a trade than to be able to teach it to others.

They’ll Probably Eat Healthier

Ron Finley is a gardener from LA and one of his famous one liners is, “Kids who grow kale eat kale.” I personally feel that it is much easier to not like eating something if you don’t know where it came from and if you didn’t grow it yourself.

(Side note: See the gardening work he has done in this TED talk! https://www.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerilla_gardener_in_south_central_la)

No More Couch Potatoes

Asides from eating healthier, they’ll be running around, moving their bodies, and using their muscles.

Builds Character

Plant’s take time to grow and it is not done overnight. They’ll have to practice patience in order to see results. Gardening is not always easy and it sometimes can have physically demanding labor. Getting their hands dirty can help them understand how hard work pays off in the long run. There is a sense of gratitude that is formed when kids start to understand the work that is put into growing and preparing food.

Creates Good Habits

Being exposed to nature, healthy eating, and gardening at a young age will only influence them to practice good habits in the future.

Allows Room for Conversation

When there are shovels in people’s hands, the only think left to do is dig, discuss, and debate. There aren’t too many distractions when they have to focus on their outdoor job and talking is about the only other thing that can happen. I’ve laughed, listened, verbally scolded, and sang all with a shovel in my hand.

They’ll Learn Respect

There may be things that they are doing that are new to them. They are going to look up to you for guidance and direction. Being able to show them how to do something as apposed to telling them, puts you in a respectable leadership position. (This can especially be true with adolescence ages that might get defensive with critiques and commands.)

A Civic Duty

If we want a more sustainable society, it is our responsibility to teach future generations how to do so.

Thanks for reading. And as always, happy planting! 

5 Reasons for Native Plants

With Easter and Mother’s day coming up, you may be thinking about getting a cut bouquet of flowers. Perhaps this year you might consider a more environmentally friendly option. Giving your loved ones flowers to plant in the ground rather than a cut bouquet can have many benefits- especially if those flowers are native to your area. Here are 5 reasons why you can’t go wrong with native plants.

  1. They’ll last longer.

You wont have to watch them wither away on the kitchen table if they are blooming in your yard.

  1. Pesticide Free is the Way to Be.

Native plants have a natural immunity to pests in your area and tend to need less pesticides to keep them healthy. By using fewer pesticides in your landscaping, you can reduce the amount of chemicals that contaminate our water systems.

  1. Speaking of Water…

Because native plants are well adapted to your area, you don’t have to water them as much. They are used to the amount of precipitation and sunlight that your area already receives.

  1. The 4 B’s.

More native plants means more bees, birds, butterflies, and bats. Native plants provide nectar, seeds, fruit, pollen and shelter for our other friends that live in the neighborhood. You’ll be creating more biodiversity and a visually appealing landscape at the same time.

  1. Less Work for You!

Isn’t that the phrase everyone wants to hear? Often times native plants are perennials which means they will pop up on their own again next year. Meaning you only have to plant them once!11825088_10204681592423069_6592781999643828941_n

            Find out what native plants and flowers grow well in your area. Better yet, get them for someone as a gift! http://www.plantnative.org/reg_pl_main.htm

Thanks for reading. And as always, happy planting! 

Spring Planting

How to Protect Your Plants from the Cold

Its Spring and some of us are eager to get outside and start planting! However, if you live in a place with unpredictable weather, there could be some frosts intermixed that may destroy your crop. Here are ways to prevent your plants from freezing over.

Know Your Plants

The best plants to put outside in the spring are those plants we refer to as “cold weather plants.” They typically are leafy green plants. Here is a list of common cold weather plants that are better suited for a spring climate.

  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Cilantro/ Coriander
  • Fennel
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard greens
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Spinach

http://www.sunset.com/garden/garden-basics/cool-season-crops-0

Tuck Them In

Plants like to be tucked in just like us! Especially during those nights where temperatures can drop drastically. Applying a simple sheet or drop cloth over your plants can help protect them from frost and retain some heat. You may need to put steaks into the ground our use hoops to create a tent-like effect so you don’t flatten your plants. Remember to anchor your cover around the edges so it doesn’t blow away and so less cold air from the outside can seep in.

A Little Water

Wet soil can retain heat better than dry soil. When transpiration happens, water is evaporated from the plant’s leaves and this evaporated water can help retain some heat if the plants are covered.

Natural Insulator

Applying a layer of mulch around your plants can help the soil temperature remain more constant and lose heat slower.

A Slow Progression

If you are moving seedlings from inside to outside, it is safest to take it in steps. The temperature and amount of light that is outdoors can be a drastic change for some plants and cause them to go into shock. To prevent this, you can place your plants in the shade outside for a few hours a day.

http://www.wikihow.com/Protect-Plants-from-the-Cold

Thanks for reading. And as always, happy planting!

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