Three Kennebec Valley Garden Club members, four times during the school year, present programs to students that relate to gardening.

March 2016 “A Field of Beans”
Students learned about the family of legumes which has over 13,000 species, but all grow in a pod.  This includes peanuts which are not really nuts at all but are legumes.  The hands on activities included sprouting raw peanuts in water soaked paper towels so the students could watch the formation of roots and stems.  An experiment to show how strong bean seeds are included planting bean seeds in plaster of paris and watching the plaster of paris split apart as the seed grew.  Best of all was the taste testing of soy beans as sprouts, edamame and hummus; peanuts in the raw and roasted, as well as pea sprouts and legume sprouts.
Field of Beans1
Paper whites2
In January 2016 hydroponic gardening was the topic.  Students were introduced to the concept of planting in water without soil and how plants can survive with proper nutrition and light.  The history of hydroponic gardening dates back to early Egypt.  The hands on activity was the planting of paper white narcissus bulbs in water with the support of crushed stone to keep the bulbs upright and stable.  It also afforded some color in the classroom for the winter period.  After the bulbs bloomed and the blooms had gone by the bulbs were rested and in the spring after the soil was warm the students planted the bulbs outside at the school.
Focus in December 2015 was “Birds in Winter”.  Students were quizzed on what birds they thought flew south for the winter and what birds stayed in Maine.  Then the students were asked why did birds fly south?  Discussion included the need for food over the winter, migration patterns, nesting areas and how did they know where they were going.  Focus then shifted to what do the non-migratory birds, or winter residents do for food. How can we help them over the winter.  Can our gardens help the resident birds, by adding areas for cover from the elements and food sources, like berries can help our resident birds.  Putting up bird feeders with seeds and suet are another way to help.  The students then made bird feeders using recycled cardboard tubes, spread with peanut butter and rolled in sunflower seeds.  Each student was able to take home 2 bird feeders.  Final discussion focused on where is it best to hang bird feeders, out of the wind, perhaps on a south or east exposure, near trees for resting availability and most importantly where the feeder can be observed.
Feeders Dec 2015
Brussels Sprouts plant
brussels sprouts
October 2015 “The Brassica Family”
Students were taught that almost all parts of some species of Brassica have been developed for food, including the root (rutabaga, turnips), stems (kohlrabi), leaves (cabbage, collard greens, kale), flower (cauliflower, broccoli), buds (Brussels sprouts, cabbage), and seeds (mustard seeds and canola, among others).  The students were very interested in the full sized brussels sprout plant that was available for inspection, from the root, the brussels sprout buds that we eat, to the top of the foliage.  Tasting and recording observations about touch, taste, sight and smell was the highlight of the presentation.  Students tasted broccoli, kale chips, cauliflower, radish, turnip and rutabaga.