Monday, February 7, 2011

Seeding the roof. Grazing the roof. Celebrating the roof.

Rooftops: surfaces with incredible potential. The rooftop garden at Glide Memorial Church exemplifies the possibilities.

Herbs, vegetables and flowers, a greenhouse, a picnic table, a vermicompost system (compost with worms) is a classroom, a community gathering space, a volunteer opportunity and a place to find nourishment. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to teach and learn with the students from the Family, Youth and Childcare Center.

This afternoon was beautiful, clear skies, sunshine and a light, cool breeze. I met the kinder class at the FYCC and we walked over to Glide, with a snack of goldfish in hand to feed the worms on the roof. We broke up the goldfish into little worm bite-sized pieces and sprinkled the bright orange cracker on the top of the pile. “Mmmmmm….it smells so good in here,” commented Joshua. We peer into the pile and notice that the top layer was laden with fresh herbs: dill, thyme, mint and parsley. Yum! These worms eat well!

We gather around the center picnic table and I scatter mung bean seeds on the table. We each look closely at the seeds. Green, round, smooth andsmall; we discuss how seeds can be as big as our head, as in a coconut and smaller than an ant. Seed size, color, and texture are so varied. We talk about what seeds need to spout: water, sunshine, soil and air...we experiment with the mung beans: we put 3.5 tablespoons of beans into a mason jar and pour 1 cup of water over them. We screw on a lid, letting the seeds soak in the water. Over the next week, these seeds will be rinsed twice a day, to encourage germination (sprouting) and then when we meet again next Thursday we can see how the seeds have transformed and maybe taste them too!

After our experiment, we go over to a planter box that is ready to be planted and we learn how to plant seeds. We each plant dozens of spinach seeds in the soil! Each week we return to the rooftop garden we can observe the growth of our seeds. We made sure to label the areas where we planted so we could remember what we planted and who planted where.

To round out our session, we helped the garden with the harvest and learned how to pick radishes and peas. We discovered pink, and red and white radishes, and lots of sweet peas growing out of white flowers on the vine.

Finally, as the sun was getting low in the sky, we worm-wiggled our way into a closing circle, we each shared our favorite thing from the day, while some of us munched on peas and radishes, and we left the rooftop just as pink wispy clouds began to color the sky.

I can’t wait till next week!

Lindsey Goldberg
Graze the Roof | Youth Educator