Category Archives: Uncategorized

Buy seeds to support the Vegetable Project

Start your own garden this year, maybe in a couple of planters on the front porch, or maybe add a few square feet to that special space – for the beauty you’ll create, for the hope you’ll inspire and for the stewardship of our environment you’ll provide. And please support the Vegetable Project when you do by buying High Mowing Organic Seeds from us from now until Friday, March 20.

Please click here for a printable list of our offering brochure and order form, invite a few friends to take a look with you and push those winter Continue reading

When do we start these seeds anyway (#2)?

We are spending some time with students these days exploring fairly inscrutable language on seed packs discussing when to plant the seeds and whether in containers indoors or in the garden soil. We do this each year partly because the information the exercise reveals useful information. The grower who puts tomato seeds in the soil in April or who sows onion seeds in July will be disappointed.

But we also like that this is a great way to start conversations about biodiversity, the amazing adaptations that evolution makes possible and the Continue reading

When do we start these seeds anyway?

Here’s a quiz. When should we start onion, tomato and carrot seeds? Indoors or directly in the soil? And if indoors, when should we move them outside?

You might want to consult this list of last spring frost dates in Albany and this New York state map of last frost dates.

Winning prize? Bragging rights, if you do not need any more information from us. And note that seed packs typically provide information for figuring this out, that the calculations are not that difficult, but that seed pack instructions are not always worded so clearly.

We often show kids how to figure this out around this time of year. It’s a nice low-key way to open the door to conversations about biodiversity, climate change or particulars about the seasons that we don’t always notice. And if doing before talking helps make these serious subjects feel more meaningful to some students than a classroom lecture might, we will suggest this exercise as a small model of teaching and learning.

–Bill Stoneman

Hands-on learning turns teaching upside down

Teaching is central to the Vegetable Project’s mission – to create hands-on learning opportunities for Albany children, and especially children with great needs, by building gardens, growing plants and harnessing the power of exposure to nature.

To the extent possible, however, we try to approach teaching from a different angle than leading mainstream classroom models. When we speak Continue reading

Love of vegetables not always at first sight

Children fall in love with fruits and vegetables when they have opportunities to grow them, prepare them, and try them again and again, says Curt Ellis, co-founder and chief executive officer of Food Corps in a most wonderful New York Times piece about empowering grade school students to help guide cafeteria menu decision-making in Portland, Ore. “It’s about helping them discover what they love to eat rather than telling them what they should eat.”

We have sought many times to make roughly the same point, but certainly have to give Mr. Ellis kudos for saying it better than we ever have. And thanks so much to our good friend Melissa Bourgeois for bringing the article to our attention.

We know from our experience that kids will try things when they’re with us that they would not otherwise. Time and again, we’ve seen kids beg off, see a friend taking a bite and then say, “Oh, okay, I’ll try it.” And often enough, the next words are, “That was good.”

We’re growing greens indoors, under grow lights right now, with the intention of developing tasting events in the cafeterias where we work. We’ll let you know how we do.

–Bill Stoneman

School gardeners offer lessons on teaching

Second graders, it appears, can get the grocery shoppers in their homes to buy more fruits and vegetables, university researchers say, at least when the young students have learned a bit about nutrition in a Continue reading

Connecting with nature for equity and rigor

“When we address privilege and inequity, access to nature should be high on our list,” says Kate Ehrenfeld Gardoqui in The Irrefutable Case for Taking Class Outside in the current issue of Education Week. Gardoqui, a senior associate with the Great Schools Partnership and the cofounder of White Pine Programs, a nature- Continue reading

Won’t want to miss Evening in the Garden

The Vegetable Project’s fourth annual Evening in the Garden is set for Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the garden at Myers Middle School. You won’t want to miss it. The food will be great. We’ll show you around the garden. Learn from demonstrations. Bring a sample of your garden soil and we’ll measure the pH for you.

The garden is behind the school building. We’ll move inside if it rains.

We would be pleased if you would let us know that you are coming at Eventbrite or our Facebook event.

We would be grateful if you would stand up and be counted as a friend of our all-volunteer effort to create hands-on learning opportunities for Albany kids with great needs by becoming a member of the event’s honorary committee. We will include your name in an event program when you make a $25 contribution. Again, please visit Eventbrite.

Many thanks for 10 years of support. Please look for the Vegetable Project on Facebook, Instagram and Evenbrite for word of the fabulous local eateries that are contributing to this event. And please help us spread the word.

Bill Stoneman

Using scientific tools for bigger lessons

With some concern about whether the least expensive and easiest-to-use tools are the most accurate, measuring pH and presence of macronutrients in our garden soil last week suggest that we have some work to do. Readings vary from one location to another. And trying to match colors of solutions with printed colors is more difficult than you might Continue reading

Why a garden? Why the Vegetable Project? #5

To grow healthy kids.

To build better approaches to the kids who do not respond well to being told, “Sit still in your chair” and “Look up at the board” and “Start planning for college.”

To get kids outside.

To expose kids to thinking about what they eat.

To offer an opportunity to build foundation knowledge the way our brains really work, by making connections with what we already know, which in academic terms means across disciplines and nonlinearly.

To inspire inquiry and discovery.

To encourage a love of learning, which does not happen when accompanied with something like, “You better learn this. It’s going to be on a test on Friday.”

To connect learning to the real world.

To create experiences.

To flop the usual school approach to teaching around, by starting with interesting questions instead of a long list of facts.

Please see earlier efforts to answer the questions Why a garden? Why the Vegetable Project.

–Bill Stoneman