The Green LIONS Garden Group officially kicked off its 2014-2015 school year on September 24. While we planned to plant our fall garden on that day, a Nor'easter had other plans. So like plants that can acclimate to changing weather, we moved on to Plan B.
At our first meeting we learned about the different parts of plants we eat; roots, stems, leaves, fruit, seeds, and flowers. We explored different familiar plants and determined what part it is that we commonly eat. Did you know that a broccoli floret is actually the plant’s flower? We also looked at how these different parts of the plants contribute to the plant’s health and well-being.
The roots keep a plant in place and also store some of its food for later use. The stem helps to move water and nutrients from the soil up into the plant out to its leaves. It also helps to move sugars from the leaves, created during photosynthesis, to other parts of the plant. The leaves aid in photosynthesis absorbing light energy from the sun and carbon dioxide from the air to create its own food, and give off oxygen as a waste product. The flowers help to create either the fruit that contains the seeds to make future plants, or the seeds themselves to help produce more of the same plant. The flowers are also perfectly designed to attract pollinators to them to help create the fruit.
Students learned how plants are a major part of most food chains. Because a plant makes its own food, it is called a producer. Insects, other bugs, and all animals are consumers because we can’t make our own food. Students divided up into groups and each played the role of either a plant (producer), insect (consumer) or animal (consumer). Students in each group then had to place themselves in order from the smallest to largest in their food chain.
Food chains lend themselves to food webs and symbiosis, a relationship in which both parties or multiple parties help provide what is needed to allow the other party or parties to thrive. While animals eat plants we also help to spread the plant’s seeds. While plants give off oxygen that we breath, we breath out the carbon dioxide that the plant needs to make sugar for its food. Animals also eat other animals and insects. Through a not so successful yarn web experiment (yarn malfunction) we were able to see that if there were no plants, there would be no insects, then there would be no hon-human animals, and finally no humans. But if there were no humans, animals would still thrive and if there were no animals it is reasonable to think that insects and plants could survive. We concluded that we need plants more than plants need us providing yet another strong argument for why we need to take care of our planet.
So on Wednesday, October 1, our second meeting, the sun was shining! Farmer John from New Earth Farm came out to help the students plant our fall garden. We planted lettuce, cabbage, green onions, mizuna, bok choy, tatsoi, arugula, kale, herbs and garlic. We have a handicap-accessible garden table in the garden area and our youngest program participants (the children of our parent representatives) planted a special selection of plants in it. It is the LIONS table in the LIONS garden. Thy planted Lettuce, Italian flat-leaf parsley, Oregano, Nasturtium seeds, and Sage spelling out the word LIONS. The LIONS in our LIONS Garden name represents Local, Indigenous, Organic, Nutritious, Sustainable.
Come visit the LIONS Garden and see our beautiful fall plants carefully planted by our newest gardeners!