Tomorrow should be an amazing day. There is so much food ready to be harvested at Ujima. We have white eggplant, Italian varieties, and Japanese. We also have a field full of swiss chard, kale, and collard greens. We have one HUGE watermelon that is getting bigger and bigger every day. On Thursday, our last day, we will be picking it and eating it with all the kids. I think they will be so excited because they have watched that baby grow for the last 6 weeks. Our corn is almost ready to be picked and should be ready by the end of the week too. Our bean teepees are about 7 feet tall and covered with flowers. Any day they will start producing beans. We have harvested anywhere from one to four cucumbers a day, and three of our cabbage have started balling.
Every day this week we have a feast planned: Asian, Mexican, and a home made pizza party with all the fresh topping picked right from the garden. A celebration for all the hard work and effort the students have put into the garden and into their work for the last six weeks.
The beginning of week 5 is hours away with 15 days down and 8 to go for the entire length of this start-up program. My students at Ujima have finally settled into routine. They are more calm, relaxed, and excited about the work we are doing. On Wednesday we made Pasta with Pesto sauce with our basil we grew right on sight. Everyone loved it. Daillo said, “I like this a thousand more times than I liked the Fritatta, and I LOVED the fritatta.” (A swiss chard fritatta in fact.)
On Thursday, Godfrie returned, limping a little after his two week absence after getting struck by a car. We are happy to have him back. Unfortunately, Diallo wont be able to come anymore becuase his mom has other stuff she wants him to do. It’s sad that right when things start really getting good a student has to leave. Out of all the students, I think he may have loved coming the most. We will miss him, but hopefully he can come next year.
This week is bound to be an exciting week for us. We are getting two very special guests: an Arancauna and a White hen who will be roosting with us for the rest of the program. The kids are having a “name that hen” competition on Monday. Tuesday we will be joining the Heckscher group once again and heading out to the Queens County Farm to volunteer and see livestock in action.
Thursday of last week, Sandra came in and led a cheese-making workshop. The students liked watching milk and buttermilk transform into cheese, and loved eating it even more. Our farm is in full production mode. We are getting about 4 ripe cucumbers a day, and our swiss chard and collard greens are huge. The kids are loving it!
Our first field trip was this Tuesday to Prospect Park, and our students were so excited! Many had never been to Prospect Park before—they had no idea what was in store for them. Ms. Leda, a forager, taught them about 10 edible plants that can be found right here in Brooklyn. Godfrie, one of our students, eagerly snapped pictures of the plants with his camera phone. And then today we had a huge feast! We made dishes from three different countries: Raw Zucchini Salad from Italy, Potato Latkes from the Middle East, and Vietnamese Summer Rolls, packed with carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce that we grew at our very own garden. (It was our second harvest for the year.) The students loved making the summer rolls and experimenting with different foods from around the world. Many wrote down recipes to bring home to their parents and took leftovers for them to try too.