Hardwork, Hallows, and Harvests, Oh My!

Along with the much needed first rains of the year, this October became a jam-packed month of learning how to care for our communities from the inside-out, through the Branch Living Library Gardens and lessons on culture and compost. Students gathered together during a holiday packed week to learn the commonalities between the histories and celebrations of All Hallows Eve’ (Halloween), Dia de los Muertos, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. Many of these Holidays celebrate the cycle of life by giving offerings of Fall’s plentiful harvest to those who have passed, and those who are in need. Even our Kindergarten children understood the symbolism of the colorfully adorned Calabeza, where death continually gives birth to new life. This is something our children are able to witness through every season of the year in our Excelsior and Bernal Heights Branch Living Library & Think Park Gardens.  And this season, we even got to taste the bounty of these life cycles through Fall delights such as: sweet crisp apples, smooth warming squash, playful pumpkin seeds, and the roughage of root vegetables. 

With full bellies and minds dancing with festive skeletons, costumes, and repeated “Trick or Treat”, our students big and small, uncovered some superhero-like strength, to completely redo our compost stations. Together, our students at our Bernal Heights and OMI/Excelsior Branch Living Libraries pulled out about 70 lbs. of weeds from our garden beds!  Students shared their decomposition knowledge by showing each other how to layer nitrogen packed greens and carbon loaded browns, to create an F.B.I. Sky-scraper (fungus, bacteria, and invertebrate). With all this hard work, our gardens are returning to wet-season splendor, with a fall rainbow palette of greens, golds, and browns.

For some extra holiday cheer, our older, Student Stewards at the OMI/Excelsior Branch were able to put together their own Halloween Harvest Party with pumpkin carving and cider making. Thanks to their donation letters, and help from The Giant Pumpkin Patch and Whole Foods, our students were able to decorate the OMI/Excelsior Living Library Lower Garden with real fall splendor. Some of our students have been a part of our A.L.L. Student Steward Afterschool Mentorship Program for more than two months now, participating in over 50 hours of hard garden work, plus cooking, teaching younger children, and learning about sustainability in our neighborhood and world.

To wrap up the month of October here is our Meal of the Month Recipe!

Fun Fall Fusion Tea:

1 Gal Water

2 cups Rose Petals (from any fragrant variety)

3 Lemons, juice

2 cups Mint, bruised or chopped

1 Tbs Rosemary

Honey to taste

A simple, fresh, and soul warming tea can be made by adding all ingredients into a large pot and bringing it to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let seep for 10-15 minutes. Add honey to taste, sip with a friends or family, and enjoy!

Submitted by Courtney Calkins,  A Living Library Instructor

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