Campos Children’s Garden — Spring Learning Begins

Summer is on its way, but it’s been cool and wet at Campos Children’s Garden. That’s been good for our greens, peas and herbs that don’t need too much heat, but our summer plants are a bit stalled, though quite healthy.

Strawberries return, year 3
Garlic going gangbusters
Herb and Fruit bed thriving














Ian Weill working on a project with Campos Garden head Chris Batenhorst

Thanks to the volunteer efforts of two new garden members, Ian Weill, a student at Farm School NYC (for more about Farm School NYC, see last year’s post, So You Want to Be an Urban Farmer? Farm School NYC Can Help Grow Your Aspirations into a Farming Career), and Erin Hodges, a landscape architect and recent transplant from New Zealand, the garden learning programs will be more robust than ever, including a regular summer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program with the Boys Club of New York in the East Village.

New Zealander/New Yorker Erin Hodges







Here are some of the food and garden learning activities kids have started so far this spring at the garden and at nearby Union Square Farmers Market.



Lyons Community School Links Writing and Gardening Skills

In mid-May, middle school teacher Wuta Onda reprised his annual class trip to Campos Community Garden as part the Field Studies program at Lyons Community School in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Once a week, Lyons students leave the classroom and use the city and its communities and sites to learn lessons and to gain confidence and independence. Over two days, his students visited and used our garden as their outdoor classroom to inspire learning in creative writing, social studies and environmental science and work in a hands-on fashion. Together with Mr. Wuta, as the students call him, we talked about topics like:

  • The role of community gardens in food security and building sense of neighborhood
  • The need to protect our natural resources, including, open land, water and soil, for food, trees and enjoying nature
  • Importance of teamwork in land stewardship
  • Planting techniques
  • Plant and vegetable nutrition

As part of their classwork, they made physical observations, wrote creative sentences about the five senses they experienced in the garden, as well as a freeform experiential/feeling essay about what the garden inspired in and taught them. Here’s how their day went:

Wuta Onda, or “Mr. Wuta,” teacher at Lyons Community School, gives his students their garden writing assignment
Lyons Community School Students making observations
Observing, touching, smelling and seeing a marigold–I wonder if they tasted one as well?
Student making garden observations
Student digging hole to plant a pepper
Planting a pepper
NYC Foodscape’s Carolyn Zezima helping students straighten a pepper plant
Watering and examining their work
Mr. Wuta enjoying the scent of a flower bud from one of his students

East Harlem Third Graders Tour and Taste Union Square Farmers Market

Also in May, NYC Foodscape led several classes of third graders from East Harlem’s P.S. 102 on a sightseeing and tasting tour of Union Square Farmers Market. Thanks to teacher Michele O’Neal, 50 kids got to meet the regional farmers who grow our food, see a plethora of fresh produce and other locally-produced foods, and got to taste and smell a variety of foods, some they’ve had, like strawberries, and some they never ate before, like sunflower sprouts.

They also saw a map of where the foods they tasted were grown, composted their food waste, and had a scavenger hunt for a list of fruits and vegetables they spotted at the market.

Union Square Farmers Market, Friday, May 22, 2015
P.S. 102 third graders and teacher Michele O’Neal
P.S. 102 student loves apples
Wilhemina from the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s Compost Project shows the kids from P.S. 102 how worms turn food into “black gold”
Wilhemina holds the worms
Worms up close and personal
NYC Foodscape and P.S. 102 at Union Square Greenmarket
NYC Foodscape and P.S. 102 at Union Square Greenmarket

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in the Garden with Boys Club of New York

As noted above, we are also regularly working with the Boys Club of New York this summer, specifically focusing on outdoor garden projects that enhance their STEM learning curriculum. We’ve started early, with an introduction to the garden and a tasting and nutrition tour of the garden, with kids getting to harvesting the spring lettuce and greens. They also got to try Radish Greens and Potato soup, to show them that there are parts to the some familiar vegetables that they didn’t even know were edible. For the recipe, see, NYC Foodscape’s June 3 post, When Your Radishes Don’t Thrive, Don’t Fret: Radish Greens and Potato Vichyssoise

In an upcoming post, we’ll tell you about a recent day with the Boys Club when we began construction on the newest feature of the Children’s Garden at Campos: an Herb Spiral!! Here’s a version of what we want to create from The Talking Farm‘s 2008 Mini-Farm.

Herb Spiral, The Talking Farm Mini-Farm, 2007
Herb Spiral, The Talking Farm Mini-Farm, 2008



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