DC's network of School Gardens continues to grow. Our bike shop started these tours three years ago, there we're around 80 gardens and now there are over 120! The District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s School Gardens Program, BicycleSPACE, FoodCorps DC and SlowFood DC co-sponsor the DC School Garden Bike Tour. For this tour we highlighted schools in NE, beginning at our shop in Ivy City. Each school pitches a project and at the end of the tour riders vote to support their favorite. This ride is
Friendship Woodridge Elementary
Garden Specialist, Brady Wheeler, shows us what his students, ranging from Pre-K to 6th grade are up to in the garden. Each grade looks after specific beds, which gives them ownership. Wheeler helps students learn part of the plants life cycle with games like "decomposer tag." Recently Wheeler has helped bring food from the garden into the cafeteria for lunch. Students learn to try new foods and see firsthand where their food comes from. While never one to advocacte peer-pressure, Brady does enjoy how his students will team up to encourage other students to try new foods like kale.
Ibti of Slow Food DC, brought along seeds from the Ark of Taste, which preserves culturally significant herbs and vegetables. At Friendship Woodbridge riders plant Chapalote "Pinole Maize", one of the oldest varieties of corn.
Good Food Market
Lunch was provided by our awesome garden tour partners at Good Food Market, in Woodridge. This market is a great source of fresh produce for communties in NE.
John Burroughs Elementary School
Saxon Henderson, Garden Coordinator, was thrilled to have guest First Lady Michelle Obama visit recently. Saxon loves connecting gardens to food and food to science. She's created pizza roll ups to talk about different layers of the earth. One of the best ways to keep the garden relevant is to build relationships with the other teachers in the school so different types of curriculum can be celebrated.
We planted a version of the Three Sisters: Pinole Maiz, Hidatsa Shield Figure Bean and Sibley Squash.
Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School
Executive Director, Erika Bryant, shows off the garden at one of the most diverse schools in the city. The garden is 8 years old. This building was bought with the idea of using the land for gardens and outdoor education. Complete with a beehive and zen garden. Stokes is dual-language school where students learn French or Spanish. Students are named compost captains and are responsible for composting during lunch. The school cooks, prepares and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. As well as providing lunch for other schools in the city.
There are over 10,000 worms on site to be used in the gardens. The beds we're constructed with help from the the parents. At this garden we planted moon and stars watermelon.
Our ride ended at Public Option in Langdon. We wet our whistle and voted for our favorite projects, ultimately selecting Woodrige Elementary. "Mr. Wheeler, the garden is cool, but it could be a lot cooler" said students of Woodridge. At Woodridge the students want to create a mural to really make the space their own. Along with the art project funds will also bring rain barrels to collect water for the garden. Public Option was the perfect place to unwind after the tour and we're grateful to owner/brewer Bill Perry for the hospitality. A DC native, Bill is committed to giving back to the community and loves hosting events like this in his neighborhood.