Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kickstarter Grant!

Donate to our Kickstarter campaign!

We have 30 days to raise $5000 for the garden!
Click here!

So far, 'The Giving Garden' has been built without a budget,
thanks to the selfless efforts of parents and friends who have chipped in.
This garden though, is meant to be a prototype -
to establish a year long outdoor curriculum to get children back to the earth -
 to instill an early understanding of where our food and energy comes from -
and to demonstrate a connected and interdependent community system.
Once the garden has been created at this school,
 it can be replicated over and over again.

We need your help!

Kickstarter is a foundation that allows people to fund raise through
social networking.
The concept is this: if every and every one of you who read this e-mail donated $20,
and then sent the link on to someone you know would be interested,
it would be simple to raise $5000.
It allows individuals (that's you guys) the opportunity to decide what is
of value to you personally,
what you want to see grow in your world,
and what you want for your future and the future of the earth.

'The Giving Garden' has a very simple goal:

One day every child, every school and every community will have a garden!

Help us make it possible!
Go to
and then send the link or forward this e-mail to someone you know.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Afterschool Program!

  Get Your Hands Dirty!

Join us at The Garden Road School for an afternoon program for children (ages 7-10) who want to learn how to grow their own food!

 The process of growing food from seed to harvest is one that allows children to experience the full scope of nature’s power and potential. We will start beds from scratch, choose which plants to grow, and bring home delicious fresh produce.

Wednesdays,   April 18  - June 13   from 1:30-3:30
Class limited to 8 students
Cost: $250 for 8 weeks.
To sign up call 914-526-4033 or email Ava at
99 Baron de Hirsch Road,  Cortlandt

Monday, February 13, 2012

Starting Seeds

Garden Time

It's getting warmer! The Giving Gardeners have been outside preparing the land for spring planting. The first thing to go in the ground will be spinach. Until then we will be starting cold-tolerant plants indoors. The owls and kittens, and later the elementary students, planted collard green seeds, which will sit in our classroom windows until the ground is warm enough for the seedlings to be transplanted outside.

While planting, we discussed what a plant needs to grow, and how similar a plant's needs are to our needs as human beings. We also noticed how interesting it is that although plants can take energy directly from the sun, (making them autotrophs) we cannot. We are heterotrophs and must facilitate plant growth to sustain ourselves. 

We noticed the different variables that might allow a seed to sprout or stay dormant, such as the depth it was planted, the amount of moisture in the soil, and the amount of daylight.

Outside, the older students prepared the beds by raking...

and removing all of the rocks.

Soon a parent of a member of the kitten's company will help us install a solar panel in the garden!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"We're Going to the Garden."

Trading Posts and Compost

Garden Time

At the end of farmer’s markets, vendors often trade their leftover produce with other farmers. Men and women carry loaves of bread across the market and return to their trucks with tomatoes, eggs and cheese for the rest of the week. It is reminiscent of colonial America, where due to better community relations than we know today and resentment against British taxes, trading goods was a more economical method of exchange than government money. 

    As the kindergarten and first and second grades study a time period when people aspired to be silversmiths and ship owners instead of lawyers and doctors, during garden time they get the chance to have a trading post of their own. In three different rounds, children picked a profession out of a hat and received their accompanying prop. (The milliner, for example, carried fabric for making hats.) During the first round, each participant - who had a slip of paper stating what product they had and what they needed - found the person who needed what they had so the two could trade. By round three the “colonists” learned that the blacksmith might not need candles, and soon six-way trades were negotiating their way around the garden.

    Afterwards we worked on our garden beds, filling in the pathways with more straw while the girls filled up wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow with compost. 

The Owls and Kittens collected firewood for the coming winter. Remember when we couldn't heat our homes with the turn of a thermostat?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Heavy Lifting and Colonial America

Garden Time
This week the Giving Gardeners did some heavy lifting. Fall is the time of year when the garden gets prepared for the coming spring. In a garden that is just coming into existence, it’s a great time to build beds and pathways and imagine what our space will look like when it’s covered in green. The Owls and Kittens are learning about manners and teamwork, and they proved their new skills by working all together to push a wheelbarrow full of woodchips up to help finish our pathway through the garden. The elementary students split into three teams – one group laid out cardboard, a second filled our wheelbarrow with compost, and a third raked the compost out over the cardboard to build beds. They are learning about Early America, and during garden time they experienced what kids their age would be doing to help their parents during colonial times. 

     The reason for the cardboard and more compost than you would find in an average garden is the unique type of farm the Giving Garden will be. Most farms use a roto-tiller, which breaks up and aerates the soil, stirring the nutrients and making them readily accessible to young plants. However, this practice quickly uses up the minerals in the soil and over several years begins to compact the top layer of soil down until it is almost impossible for oxygen to get through. This inhibits the number of organisms that can thrive around the roots of the plants and this directly correlates to how well plants can grow. There is however, another system of farming in which a roto-tiller is not used, and the surface of the soil is not disturbed. 

    No-Till farming is a process by which weed growth is restricted by blocking sun and oxygen with layers of cardboard. The compost placed on top of the cardboard gives the new plants the boost in minerals that they need and it gives them a chance to grow big and strong before the weeds can catch up. By the time the plant's roots have reached the cardboard, it is soft enough from moisture and decomposition for the roots to push through, and by the end of a growing season the cardboard is gone entirely. This way, every year you farm the land you return to the soil what you took from it in the first place. Your garden only has to contend with airborne weeds and your soil stays aerated instead of compacting down, (trust me, once you have tried pulling weeds in a roto-tilled and a no-till garden you will know the difference). 

    When the community garden is up and running in the spring, participants will be able to farm their plot in whatever way they choose, but the rest of the garden will be there as an example of something new to try. The Giving Gardeners love trying and learning new things. The children usually quick to answer even the hardest of questions though, could not fathom that summer vacation was invented only so that people their age could spend more time doing manual labor during the growing season.

Also, check out a video of the Owls and Kittens talking about compost! (It was put up between full blog posts)