Garden Project Certifications

Growing, Giving, Gratifying: GARDENING

By: Athena Fischer, Community Volunteer – Manna Project

These words are just the beginning of the project at Sycamore Canyon School, a project begun years ago by a woman with a mission. Where once there was a parking lot, there is now a flowing garden, including spaces for cultural fares, class gardening projects, and most especially, learning to cohabitate and give back to our communities – both flora and fauna.

On this day at the garden, Mrs. Huber’s second graders helped us to plant lettuce and thai basil that will be donated to the Manna Food Bank, the oldest food bank in the Conejo Valley which serves over 20,000 people each year. Our goal is to donate fresh produce to the project, a valuable commodity that is not often offered at food banks. Fresh produce is high in minerals and nutrients – which can be lost in canned and dried foods.

There isn’t much like twenty squirming, excited children inspiring you to learn something new. Everyone leaning forward on their tiptoes to get a better look at what’s in front of them (this day I think I was part of the attraction being a newcomer). We started our lesson learning about different types of foods, Go Foods – carbohydrates that keep us going, Grow Foods – proteins that give us strength and muscles, and Glow Foods – fresh produce that supply us with nutrients and minerals.

After guessing what we’d be planting that day, we went into the Edible Garden, the section where the grow boxes are kept and everything grown is meant to be tasted and enjoyed by our bodies. Here, we helped Ricky (another volunteer at the project) to plant lettuce and thai basil, making sure we put the seeds far away enough that they could grow comfortably.

“Imagine that you are at camp, and you all have a bunk! You wouldn’t feel very comfortable if you were all squished in one bunk would you?” I realized later that perhaps not all second graders had yet to experience sleep-away camp… But I hope they understood my meaning! I’m sure I learned just as much as the kids did that day, both about foods and about teaching.

After planting our seeds Ricky took the flats holding our seedlings back to his greenhouse for sprouting. After they were about three inches tall he would bring them back and we would plant them in one of the garden boxes reserved for Manna food. Ending the lesson, we did some weeding of their radish box, making sure to identify the radishes before we accidentally pulled them out! On our way out of the garden, everyone was encouraged to spot and collect any trash or items that didn’t belong – keeping the garden healthy and beautiful for everyone (including bunnies!).
This school, garden, and community truly embody the spirit of serving, and in so becomes a life-giving opportunity to all involved. We are coming together as a community to serve those in need; children and adults, teachers and students, those with and those without, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.

Pi Day: 3.14.2017

On-Site Reporter, Elliana Tenenbaum, 5th Grade Mr. Hoyle’s Class

Pi Day was celebrated on Tuesday, March 14 at Sycamore Canyon School, as elementary grade students came to the school Garden to experience ideas about math in a carnival style fair during lunch recess.

Six teams of Sycamore Canyon Fifth Graders each ran an interactive game booth that they created, based on a specific math topic they chose.  Students K-5th earned prizes by playing the games and learning the math concepts behind them.

When asked what inspired their booth, what their hopes for the booth’s outcomes were, and what they found inspiring about other groups’ booths, the Fifth grader hosts’ replies were quite significant.

Arwen, a Fifth Grader in Ms. Mertz’s class, who hosted the booth “Abacus”, said “It was really fun teaching other kids about the Chinese Abacus.  I even learned quite a bit myself!”

Brynlee, a Fifth Grader in Mrs. Taylor’s class, who hosted the booth “The Mathamaticsters”, told us “I really enjoyed teaching students in such a fun way.  Even for me it was an enjoyable time.”

We interviewed students who participated in these activities what their favorite booth was and here’s what they had to say:

“I enjoyed Operation Gravity Math because it was like Plinko but math related – it was really fun!”

“Lucky Duck was definitely the best!  You got to toss rings on floating ducks.  I thought that was really cool!”

“I thought Abacus was awesome because we got to practice on the real thing, and you got to play Bingo!” (using the Abacus numbering system in lieu of Arabic numbers for the bingo boards)

Other participants we interviewed echoed that excitement after their visits to the booths. Overall, this was a really exciting event for Sycamore Canyon elementary school and a fantastic way to teach and learn mathematical concepts in honor of Pi Day.

Editor’s Note:  Thank you to the following parent volunteers for their assistance for/at the event – Subha Tholudur, Melissa George, Himangi Jayakar, Yali Chen, Marie Turner, Tara Kim, Maria Paz Varas, Amber Spahr, Craig Burritt and Amanda Lee.

Congratulations to each team on a job well done!

  • Abacus: Arwen Louie, Nicole Cui, Alexis Pirie, Nandini Patro
  • Know Your Facts!: LeAnn Lam, Gwen Song, Delilah Grant, Brooke Burritt
  • Lucky Duck: Quinn Henderson, Anjali Tholudur, Sara Mansourian, Megan Tappin
  • Operation Gravity Math: Alex Li, Tyler Suh, Kyle Householder, Karthik Tholudur
  • Smash the PI: Krishna Tholudur, Jonathan Boudreau, Aayaan Ahmed, Bohdie Ing
  • The Mathamaticsters: Lauren Kulle, Brynlee Fillpot, Laurel Eith, Brianna Marks

Click here for the Ventura County Star report of the event

Photos by:  Melissa George

World of Radishes

By: Elise Louie, Mrs. Huber’s 2nd grade class

On March 8, 2017 my class planted French Breakfast Radishes in planter #3.

When we first got to the garden, we were introduced to a very useful garden friend.  His name is E.W.  Can you guess what he is?  He is a red earthworm!  E.W. makes fertilizer for the plants with his poop (it may sound disgusting but the poop, also called castings, really helps the plants!)  E.W. also turns the soil by moving in and out of it, and the loose soil makes it easier for the plants to find space to grow.  E.W. has a mouth, but no eyes and nose.  He knows where the light is and moves away from it (E.W. likes the dark), and he breath through his skin.  That is why it is very important for E.W. to protect his skin.  He can’t be too wet or too dry.  You can tell E.W.’s head from its tail by the location of its egg sac, also called the Clitella, which looks like a fat ring around its neck.

Now that you know about E.W. lets us get back to the radishes.

We made seed tapes to plant the radish seeds into the soil.  We use seed tapes to make sure the radishes are spaced apart far enough for each one to be happy and grow big.  This is how you do it.  First, you get a piece of newspaper and fold it in half.  Next, you take a ruler and draw a line every two inches on one half of the paper.  Than, put some glue on the lines and glue the seeds down (The glue is made with water and flour.)  Last, shut it close with the other half of the paper, put it in the planter and cover it lightly with soil.  Make sure to water it.   It takes about 30 days to grow.  I had a GREAT time growing radishes!!!!

Watch out for rabbits!!

Editor’s Note:  Big THANK YOU to parent volunteers Amanda Lee, María Paz Varas, Sonceriae Armstrong, and Phylicia Bulmer!!

Adopt the Garden News – February

By:  Marivic Marko, Adopt the Garden Coordinator

What a pleasure it was to have our youngest students visit the garden in the month of February!  We took a tour of the garden and saw oak and Sycamore trees, and discovered what was growing in the Edible Lab.  They learned that their school is named after the Sycamore tree, and learned to identify it in the garden.  The most exciting part was opening “The Little Red Barn” and seeing all the garden tools!

This was the first time all kindergarten students were using garden tools, and they all did an excellent job raking, weeding, dusting and picking up trash.

A big THANK YOU to the teachers, students and parents that participated in the program:

Miss Truesdale’s Kindergarten class and Class Volunteer: Cindy Panza
Mrs. Salute’s Kindergarten class and Class Volunteer: Claudia Sarkissian
Ms. Neill’s Kindergarten class

We look forward to seeing our 1st graders in April!

HOTM February Report – Oranges

Chloe Lin, Mrs. Taillon’s 2nd grade class


Today my class tasted two types of oranges.  We first tasted the blood orange.  It looked disgusting.  But once I took a bite out of it, it tasted sour and delicious.  Next, we tasted the navel orange.  It felt cold.  When I took a bite out of it, it was so so so sooooooo sweet.  I enjoyed both of the oranges.  I enjoyed the blood orange because it was sour.  I like the navel orange because it is sweet and juicy.  I also really like to drink orange juice.

Rohan Kaushik, Mrs. Huber’s 2nd grade class


Today we sampled Naval oranges and Blood oranges.  The Navel oranges were sweet, juicy, and delicious!  It was smooth, tasty, and looked really orange.  The Blood orange was sour, sweet, and red, like blood.  On the outside it was bumpy and dark orange.

Ella Bobb, Mrs. Huber’s 2nd grade class


Today we sampled Naval oranges and Blood oranges.  the Naval oranges were very sweet  but the Blood oranges were sour.  the inside of the Naval orange was silky but the Blood was soft.  The outer layer on the Blood was bumpy, but the Naval was smooth.  Although they tasted different I still LOVED them both!

Sam Power, Mrs. Taillon’s 2nd grade class


Today my class tasted two types of oranges.  We first tasted the blood orange.  It looked like vampires eat it.  Also it tasted super sour and super bitter.  Next, we tasted the naval orange.  It looked normal.  It also tasted super sweet.  I enjoyed the navel orange the best.  I hope I can convince my mom into buying them.

Sophia Zhang, Mrs. Huber’s 2nd grade class


Today we sampled Naval oranges and Blood oranges.  I liked them both a lot.  The Blood orange was more sour than the Naval orange and the Blood orange color was also darker than the Naval orange.  The Naval orange color was more light than the Blood orange and the Naval orange was more sweet than the Blood orange.  I love oranges and it was my first time trying the Blood orange.


Harvest of the Month (HOTM), sponsored by the SCS PTSA Garden Project for the SCS 2nd grade classes, is a CVUSD nutrition department program that provides our students with the opportunities to explore, taste, and learn about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables while getting to know the local farmers and produce they grow in our community.

Peter Rabbit’s Workshop

Amazing parent Garden volunteers Sonceriae Armstrong and Tina Mintz gave our 1st graders something to “chew on” during a special Peter Rabbit Workshop session that concluded their core literature unit on Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. 

The action packed 30 minutes workshop begun with a visit to the children’s vegetable planters in the Edible Lab, where an open forum style discussion on their 105 days of vegetable growing experience was conducted.  We had the opportunity to talk about expectations, actual yield, factors that influenced their crop (such as weather and actual “Peter” invasions of the vegetables), and we discussed ways to improve our outcome the next time around. 

Next we revisited the concept of “Go, Glow, and Grow” foods to reinforce the understanding of how various food groups can help us grow healthy and strong.  We took this opportunity to explore the various parts of vegetables, identifying which part we actually consume, and the roles fresh fruits and vegetable play in our daily diet.

The workshop concluded with a long anticipated “Salad Party”.  Using the leafs of roman lettuce as the plate, each children built a customized edible “boat”, with the options of pea puree, carrots, broccoli, radishes, cucumbers, cabbage, and heirloom tomatoes contained within.  It was a huge hit.  The kids ate their vegetables and eagerly informed the volunteers how much they enjoyed eating the snack.  Their compliments were music to our ears.