Local, organic agriculture. Environmental education.

39 Days

young greens collageEntering into every second grade classroom in the Hingham and Hull public schools on these early fall days is a joy and a new chance to hopefully celebrate Thanksgiving in a new way.  We Holly Hill Farm teachers have the opportunity to teach these lessons and talk about how we can grow some healthy spinach in a possible 39 days. 39 days rounds up nicely to 40, which is a good round number for predicting when the spinach will be ready for harvest.  30 days hath September helps begin to realize that most months have 30 days. The calendar astute 2nd graders though are keenly aware of October 31st and the observation of Halloween, so when we count to forty, most pause on that day as we arrive on November 15th or so, pending on which day we are discussing and planting.  We collectively determine that winter is coming, the days are growing shorter, with regard to sunshine, and the pending change of season may certainly bring cold weather and freezing temperatures.  So what makes spinach so possible to grow?  The package of organic Corvair spinach seeds from Johnny’s seed company in Moaine tells us that there is a 95% germination rate for this crop of seeds.  95 is definitely close to 100 and that helps us determine that the spinach is likely to sprout.  It will also, we decide and hope, grow roots, stems and edible leaves. (At this point, many groan with complaint, “I don’t even like spinach.” Much less they may not have yet realized that fresh, organic spinach may actually taste pretty good, freshly picked, rinsed and with an optional dressing. Plus some of the students have not even tried much spinach at all).  So how will this spinach grow and what will it need?

“Love” is a thoughtful and terrific answer that is sometimes offered. Usually though the kids stick mostly to the basic needs of water (which is quite a valuable resource found with a cost from a faucet or wisely collected for free from a well-placed gutter cascading into a rain barrel), [full disclosure: the Aqaurion Water company is generously funding these lessons and proponents of increasing knowledge about from where water comes], soil (which is full of good healthy nutrients), and sun, which even shines on cloudy days.  Air and space are two additional, necessary elements and aspects for successful growing. One student likened the need for space to his own learning and growing, as he too needs space.  It is a nice connection for anyone to realize the need for space. The realization is great to see when the students carefully pinch a collection of seeds from the palm of my hand and spread the seeds distinctively in a shallow furrow.  The seeds are covered, tucked in and the soil is gently patted for good growth. Will the sun shine brightly enough? Will the rain fall in steady amounts? Will the autumn wind blow as a breeze rather than like a lion?  We hope to celebrate the harvest in mid-November, without needing too much turkey, fewer pies and just the chance to know we can grow some food of our own. It would also be nice to grow and enjoy some leafy greens, not found in a wrapper or loaded with sugar and other processed ingredients.  Might that be a treat!

© 2015, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm

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