Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sustainable Season

The Green LIONS Garden Group had a welcome visit from Maureen Anderson and her daughter from Hearthside Farm, http://www.thefullnessthereof.blogspot.com, at our meeting yesterday. Maureen is a regular visitor and mentor to our program and once again delivered a presentation full of rich and exciting history on native crafts and sustainable living. She and her family raise goats and sheep and make luscious soaps and beautiful wool yarn among many, many other sustainable farm goodies.

Maureen spoke with the students in depth about beekeeping and its importance and the health benefits of honey, bee pollen and beeswax. Even the adults learned something new when she spoke of how simply burning a beeswax candle can affect air quality in our home. When you walk outside after a storm you may notice a difference in the air. That is because lightening creates negative ions in the air and negative ions attach themselves to pollutants and pull them down out of the air to the ground. Burning a beeswax candle has a similar affect on indoor air pollutants. Beeswax candles do not produce soot when they burn, but they do produce negative ions which cleanse the air by removing dust, dirt, odor and other pollutants we breathe. Burning a beeswax candle when you have a cold or the flu helps you recover faster. How exciting to learn!

Maureen also taught the students the steps taken from raising a sheep to producing the yarn that makes up much of our clothing. Learning this interesting cycle from source to finished product is an important teaching for students to understand about our food cycles and where many of our day-to-day items come from. Understanding the source of products we consume and the journey they take helps us in our purchasing choices. And seeing the benefit to us and the environment in choosing products grown or produced closer to home is a vital and priceless lesson.

The students worked with beeswax to make lip balm for either themselves or to “elve” away at the holidays. We mixed beeswax from Hearthside Farm with organic olive oil and honey to make a simple lip balm. A beeswax-based lip balm is much healthier than a petroleum-based balm for our bodies and the planet.

We also harvested our kale in the garden. As our garden enters its winter mode we chose to harvest the kale for the students to take home to share with their families, and to share with our school cafeteria rather than leaving the kale to winter. While kale and other cole crops can survive over winter (they stay in somewhat of a suspended animation state, not growing but also not dying) and you can enjoy them through the winter by just removing their outer leaves and leaving the plant center, we chose to harvest all three varieties in the spirit of the giving season to share with everyone. We still have broccoli and cabbage in the garden still growing and thriving. Yum!

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