REMINDER: Mini-seed sale tonight, 6:30-7 p.m.

In addition to our seeds, tonight we’ll also have a small selection of cilantro and spinach starters ($1.25). They are still pretty young, but you can nurture them in their compostable pots until it’s time to transplant. Planting is easy — you plant the pot and plant together!

Belvedere seeds are $1.25 and Seed Savers seeds are $2. CASH ONLY.

Questions? Email me at severs@fcps.edu.

 

 

3rd Annual Seed Sale moved to March 21 – tell your friends and neighbors!

The 3rd Annual Belvedere Seed Sale, organized and run (as usual) by our third grade, will be held next week instead of tomorrow thanks to Mother Nature. The students, who are studying economics, have been busy preparing for the sale: decorating seed envelopes, counting out and packaging seeds, labeling envelopes, voting on pricing and what to purchase with the proceeds, and training for jobs: merchandise manager, inventory, quality control, customer service and cashier.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 8.33.37 PM Seed Sale Info:
Tuesday, March 21
8:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.     Prices $1.25 and $2 CASH ONLY                Belvedere lobby          6540 Columbia Pike               The sale is open to the public, so spread the word!

If this Thursday’s PiP is still on, we’ll also have a sale teaser from 6:30-7 p.m. Some herb transplants may be available at this sale for $1.25. 

Seeds collected by Belvedere’s student Garden Club and donated by families and friends (thank you, alumna mother Terri Lamb and Garden Club co-coordinator Laura Noble!) will cost $1.25. A full list of seed types for sale is below.

The Seed Savers Exchange, known nationally for their excellent collection of rare and heirloom seeds, has sold Belvedere 250 packages of seeds at wholesale prices. These retail for $3, but you can buy them from us for $2. These include a bird and butterfly mix, a bee feed mix, three kinds of heirloom tomatoes (including one that grows well in pots), cilantro, parsley, Taiyo sunflowers, and Stone Mountain watermelon.

These varieties will be for sale for $1.25:Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 8.35.05 PM

Plants with an * are native. That means they originated in this area, are adapted to the climate and are low-maintenance. Once established, they don’t need watering except during severe drought.

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU!

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Outdoor Club pulls close community closer

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Above: Members of Belvedere’s Outdoor Club brave sub-freezing temps to enjoy Saturday morning together at Lake Accotink. Spouses, siblings, and pets are welcome, too.

 

Once a month, on a Saturday morning, a bus pulls up at Belvedere and a nearby apartment complex to take students, parents, staff, spouses, siblings, and other relatives to a local park for a hike. Some families drive themselves or walk, meeting the bus at that month’s destination. This is the Belvedere Outdoor Club, new this year.

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Outdoor Club members observe and photograph a trio of frogs floating in a hollow sycamore trunk at Huntley Meadows.

More than 100 families signed up to be in the club, and monthly participation has been high. On the hikes, adults and children of different cultures, religions, and backgrounds talk with each other, get excited about wildlife, and just enjoy being in the fresh air, often in a place they’ve never been before. The PTA paid for 15 pairs of binoculars, which have let us get incredible wildlife views, including those of a great blue heron soaring over the Huntley Meadows wetland and an eagle perched near its nest at Lake Accotink.

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Above: The first trip was to Holmes Run. An earlier rain made the stream crossing an adventure.

 

A huge thanks goes to the Belvedere PTA, Title I grant funding, and the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries eStore grant for providing transportation funding. [The Outdoor Club is partly supported by the 2016 Virginia Wildlife eStore (www.ShopDGIF.com) Grant Program through a partnership between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia.]

These trips have allowed us to come together as a community in a new way, giving parents and staff time to talk in a relaxed atmosphere and providing students with a chance to experience the science they study in the classroom and to learn how to identify some common plants and animals. We hope to be able to continue the program next year. A few more photos from our trips are below.

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Huntley Meadows on a glorious fall day.

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Growing food for the cafeteria and citizen scientists for the community

The School-Age Green Education Committee (SAGE) of NoVA Outside, a regional alliance of environmental educators, hosts monthly visits to area schools that are open to anyone — ANYONE — interested in the topic. The visits usually focus on a school garden, but in February, participants will learn about something unusual: how to raise tilapia and grow plants hydroponically. At the host school, George Mason High School, the harvests are enjoyed by students in the cafeteria. No RSVP is needed — just show up!
WHEN: 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 1, 2017
WHERE: George Mason High School, 7124 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-3-43-28-pmLast spring George Mason High School students started growing lettuce hydroponically — in water instead of soil — and created a self-filtering aquaculture system to raise tilapia. Their goal: to serve the greens and fish in the school cafeteria. Hear from students, science teacher Peter Mecca and special education teacher Jamie Lahy about the two programs, then go on a tour to see the systems in operation. This program is appropriate for educators at all grade levels, although the more technical aspects will be geared toward educators of older students.


GMHS is a leader in hands-on science learning. The school also grows brook trout for the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, monitors local streams for E. coli and macroinverebrates (aquatic critters), removes invasive species on the Appalachian Trail, and joined the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District in a two-year study to determine the effectiveness of using the radishes to relieve urban soil compaction. Dr. Mecca, who teaches biology and ecology, received the 2015 Conservation Education Teacher of the Year Award from the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

You can learn more about the school’s programs at https://fcnp.com/2016/04/28/mustangs-build-hydroponic-aquaculture-systems/ or by listening to a podcast of the Nov. 2, 2016, Kojo Nnamdi show at 
http://thekojonnamdishow.org/shows/2016-11-02/fresh-and-fishy-school-gardens-grow-up?_ga=1.124349898.130109363.1478105173

DIRECTIONS: GMHS is located near I-66 on Route 7 and is a block from the West Falls Church Metro station. From I-66, take exit 66, turn right onto eastbound Route 7, then turn left at the first light onto Haycock Rd/Shreve Rd. Take the first possible left (no light) to turn into the high school parking lot.
QUESTIONS? Contact Stacey Evers at 703-346-8530 or stacey.evers@icloud.com.


If you would like to apply to host a SAGE School Meetup at your school, email Trish Wotowiec at Trish.Wotowiec@gmail.com

Please join us as we discuss successes, challenges, and best practices at elementary, middle and high schools across our region in our series of NoVA Outside’s SAGE School Meetups! Discover NoVA Outside’s other programming and enjoy expanding your networks and accessing additional resources. Here’s to growing “green” in our schools!

Cold doesn’t shut out hardy Garden Club

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Temps might have taken a dive, but Garden Club kids didn’t notice on Monday. They put about 20 native plants in the ground, checked and recorded soil temperature around the courtyard, weeded, collected seeds, piled garden debris on the topsoil garden, cut back woodland sunflowers, and filled the bird feeders for the first time this year.

Another first: the Garden Club itself. More than 100 students in grades 1-5 are trading one recess a month for gardening time in the courtyard. In the photo above, first-graders eagerly sampled dried mealworms (meant for birds) after one girl passed along that her mother said they’re tasty; the girls weren’t disappointed. In the photos below, second-graders collect the seeds from Halloween pumpkins, fourth-graders plant foamflowers in the shade garden, and another group of fourth-graders learn from Belvedere Garden Club Co-coordinator Laura Noble how to plant chokeberry and buttonbush shrubs.

Protect the environment and make Belvedere beautiful: Work day tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 12)

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Boys in Belvedere’s Garden Club are weeding to clear the area for native plants.

It’s going to be chilly tomorrow, but don’t let that stop you from coming to Belvedere between 3 and 5 p.m. to plant and help restore our meadow. Even if you only have time to plant one plant, it makes a difference.

We’ll be in the back. If you have shovels and gloves, please bring them. We do have some at school, too. We’ll also be mulching around the raised garden beds.

FCPS planted our meadow a few years ago to help manage stormwater that was running off the slope and flooding the neighborhood below. Vehicles driving on part of the meadow have eroded it and allowed invasive plants to move in. Last spring, FCPS Get2Green awarded Belvedere with funding to be spent on meadow plants so we can return it to its purpose. We now keep the back gate locked so vehicles can’t access the back of the school without our knowledge.

The meadow is one of the most highly used outdoor learning spaces at Belvedere, offering students opportunities to study life cycles, living things (including insects and mammals), soil, ecosystems, habitats, and native plants.

So please, throw on a coat and come over for a little bit. I’ll make sure there’s hot coffee and something to snack on. Kids are welcome!

Questions? Email me at severs@fcps.edu.

Mount Vernon donates 200+-year-old hunk of history to Belvedere

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Fourth-graders look on as Mount Vernon Horticulture Director Dean Norton marks  10-year increments on the tree’s rings.

Belvedere is the honored and grateful recipient of a “tree cookie” from Mount Vernon. Dean Norton, horticulture director at George Washington’s historic home, delivered a solid slice of a white oak tree that for over 200 years graced the center of the estate’s slave cemetery.

 

chunk-o-tree-and-dean-nortonMr. Norton met with Ms. Cendejas’ class, which will be tending the colonial beds again in the Timeline Garden. He told the students how trees grow a ring every year and so are used to estimate a tree’s age. Together, the class counted the rings and marked every 10 years. The rings aren’t clearly defined on the outer edges, but the students easily counted 218 rings. That dates the tree to at least 1798. George Washington died in 1799.

The students were elated to learn that Mr. Norton was giving the tree specimen to Belvedere. The tree slice is half the width of the original tree, extending from bark to core. He also showed the students a special tool that determines a tree’s age without having to cut down the tree. The tree will be usable by classes studying living things, plant vascular systems, and Virginia history; shortly it also will be on view in the lobby’s glass display area.