The Murray Avenue School Garden
Murray Farms is our school garden. The PTA built the garden in 2013 as a hands-on, outdoor classroom and learning laboratory – a place for students to explore and study science, nature and the environment, health and food, literature and poetry, farming, social studies, math and more.
Located on the large playground adjacent to Murray Avenue, Murray Farms is a unique collaboration between parent gardeners, the PTA, Principal Monaco and Murray teachers. Members of the PTA’s garden committee and recess club maintain the garden, while a faculty-parent steering committee develops garden curriculum that complements classroom learning. This group is made up of teachers from each grade level, Librarian Pamela Tanenbaum, Principal Monaco and the garden co-chairmen.
Each grade participates in activities in the garden that are customized to students’ abilities, curriculum standards and learning needs. In addition, several of our teachers have launched pilot programs with their classes. You will continue to learn more about these lessons throughout the year from your children and their teachers!
REGISTER NOW!! Murray Farms Spring Recess Garden Club for Grades 1-5
The PTA's Garden Committee is pleased to welcome Grades 1-5 students to register for our popular Spring Recess Garden Clubs program. This is a unique opportunity for students to spend time at recess in a quiet and contemplative space, while also being active with hands-on farming tasks and learning the ins and outs of garden care. Class size is limited so please register early!
Murray Farmers: Grades 3-5
Students will actively tend Murray Farms and have fun growing vegetables, herbs and flowers. They’ll learn all the skills necessary to be confident and environmentally conscientious gardeners, including how to harvest, prune, start seeds, identify weeds, make compost and – a springtime favorite – grow their own salad mix! The Murray Farmers club will meet once a week during recess (after lunch) for seven sessions from April 19 through May 31. Requested donation: $110. Register now: http://www.murraypta.com/category-s/110.htm
Meadow Larks: Grades 1-2
A new addition to the Murray garden program!! After the completion of Murray Meadow last fall, 1st and 2nd grade students will have the opportunity to tend the new garden. Students will spend time in this inspiring space in a small group, learning to sow seeds, transplant seedlings, identify weeds, prune and compost in an environmentally sustainable manner. The Meadow Larks club will meet once a week during recess (after lunch) for five sessions from May 11 through June 8. Requested donation: $80. Register now: http://www.murraypta.com/category-s/110.htm
The club is sponsored by Salad Days LLC, a local gardening company that specializes in organic, sustainable gardening and education. Classes will be taught by Perri McKinney, a New York Botanical Garden-trained gardener, and Chrystal Chambers, a certified teacher.
FALL'S BOUNTY AT MURRAY FARMS
Murray Farms was in full swing when students returned to school in September, thanks to the care of our dedicated Garden Committee volunteers throughout the summer. Sunflowers were ablaze in golds, reds and browns, and zinnias bloomed in pinks, reds and yellows. The Legacy Garden, planted in June by Murray’s outgoing fifth graders, was at its peak harvest time, with broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, green beans, beets, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, eggplant, herbs, and much more! And the fourth-grade Three Sisters Garden, planted according to Native American tradition, was bursting with corn, beans and pumpkins.
Kindergarten Harvests Legacy Garden
The newest Murray students visited the garden in September to receive a gift from the outgoing fifth graders – the Legacy Garden. This gift started as tiny seeds, planted by fifth graders during their final week at Murray. The seeds sprouted and grew over the summer into a beautiful and bountiful fall garden. The cycle continues as kindergarten classes visit the garden to harvest a selection of vegetables for a snack-time tasting!
The garden visit reinforced kindergarteners’ study of the five senses. Students saw all the colors and shapes. They smelled the oregano and other herbs. (The consensus: Oregano smells like pizza!) They touched fuzzy and smooth leaves. The heard the rustle of the wind on leaves. And they tasted their harvest as a classroom snack!
Also as part of their garden visit, students read If You Plant A Seed by Kadir Nelson. This story of friends who plant and tend a garden together illustrates how working together – and being inclusive rather than exclusive -- results in powerful rewards of compassion and generosity. Exactly what our school garden is all about!
Please click HERE or image below for the kindergarten newsletter.
Second Grade: Garden and Community
Second graders bolstered their Community Study with a visit to the school garden, in conjunction with reading The Curious Garden by Peter Brown about a garden that transforms a community. Students became detectives and observed the components of our garden community, as they searched for pumpkins, beans, broccoli and other plants. They especially enjoyed noticing how carrots are hard to spot because they grow underground!
Please click HERE or image below for the second grade newsletter.
Third Grade: How Much Do Vegetables Weigh?
Third graders harvested and washed vegetables for a “Farm Box” to use in their classrooms for weighing, practicing metric conversions and calculating mass. Which is larger, a Brandywine tomato or an Italian eggplant? Which has more mass?
Fourth Grade: Three Sisters Garden Brings Native American Study to Life
As part of a pilot program in the spring, fourth graders researched planting methods, nutritional benefits and cultural mythology associated with the traditional Native American Three Sisters garden. They planted seeds for the Three Sisters – corn, beans and squash – in raised mounds made of compost, according to Iroquois custom. The corn grew tall over the summer, beans grew up the corn stalks, and pumpkins formed a dense ground cover. In the fall, as part of a library research program, fourth graders picked, studied and diagramed the corn. Once all the crops were harvested, students composted the stalks and vines and planted a green manure seed mix composed of plants that restore nutrients such as nitrogen after a heavy-feeding crop such as corn is grown.
Art in the Garden
Murray Farms is an outdoor studio for art classes at Murray. Students enjoy visiting the garden to sketch and paint, and often compose classroom still-lifes with vegetables and flowers picked from the garden.
SPRINGTIME 2015 AT MURRAY FARMS
April Kicks Off the Early Spring Garden
Fourth Graders Put Winter to Rest
In April, fourth graders prepared the garden for the planting season by turning under the “winter blanket” of winter rye, vetch, clover and peas they planted in late fall. Farmers call this type of cover crop a green manure because it protects and enriches the soil.
Students tracked changes in soil structure and quality between the fall planting and spring turn-under as part of their classroom study of ecosystems. The changes they found were significant: Under the winter blanket was rich, dark soil with lots of earthworms!
Please click HERE for the fourth grade newsletter.
Crunchy Carnival: Planting Peas in Compostable Pots
The Murray community had a chance to plant the earliest of spring crops: the delicious sugar snap pea. Guests at the Crunchy carnival planted peas in recycled, biodegradable pots made from the cardboard tubes found inside paper towel and toilet paper rolls. These are folded origami-style to form a pot that holds soil and can be planted directly in the ground. This type of planting is perfect for peas, which don’t like their roots disturbed during planting.
Click HERE for the Pea Pot Instructions
Third and Fourth Graders Plant the Salad Garden
Third and fourth graders will visit the garden in late April to sow a tasty collection of greens, fresh herbs and edible flowers that they’ll harvest in June to make a tasty salad wrap. As part of the last year’s project, students researched the plants during library with Mrs. Tanenbaum and designed educational labels for each plant.
Second Grade Plants Sunflowers and Pumpkins
We can thank second grade for the beautiful array of sunflowers growing in the garden last fall, as well as the prize pumpkin on display in the library. We’re looking forward to an encore sunflower show this season with short, tall, gold, yellow, red, brown and everything in between!
As part of the state curriculum, second graders study seeds. This year, students will have the opportunity to sow seeds directly in the garden and watch them grow. Students continued to enjoy the sunflowers even after winter’s frosts. Mr. Stone’s third-grade art students harvested flowers, designed still lifes and drew them in class. Once the flowers dried, science classes studied the fascinating pattern of the seed heads and harvested seeds to plant in the upcoming season.
First Graders Care for Garden Pollinators
First graders will plant pollinator-loving flowers in the garden this May to enrich our butterfly habitat. They have a special connection to our garden butterflies, since first-grade classes hatch and nurture Painted Ladies in their classrooms all spring and release them in the garden in early summer. Butterflies not only add to the beauty of Murray Farms, they and their pollinator friends are necessary for the production of fruit. Beneficial insects also keep pests away, helping Murray Farms stay chemical free.
June: The Salad Days!
One of the favorite events of the year! Third and fourth graders work in pairs to harvest a salad from the vegetables they planted from seed two months before. They wash the greens, spin them, fold them into a wrap with dressing, and enjoy a healthy, delicious salad wrap. Many students ask for seconds!
Before they graduate in June, Murray’s fifth graders plant a fall-focused garden for their peers to enjoy when school resumes in September. Kale, cabbages, chard, mustard greens, carrots, green beans, Brussels sprouts, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes – it’s a harvest to remember!
While the entire Murray community enjoys the Legacy Garden, kindergarteners are the special beneficiaries. The littlest Murray students work in small groups to harvest vegetables in September and October and taste them during snack time.
Third graders utilized the Legacy Garden for a library research project on “observation,” as well as to harvest produce for the local food pantry. Working with volunteers, students took measurements and made observations about the size, shape and growing habits of plants including Swiss chard, nasturtiums, marigolds, basil, dill and rosemary. Once the vegetables had been thoroughly studies, Mrs. Montone’s class harvested 17 bags of produce to donate to local residents.
Helping our Community
Murray Farms is all about making use of every leaf, root, seed and fruit we grow. Sometimes we have more than our classes can use and we take the opportunity to give to our community. Many dozens of bags of produce have been donated to local food pantries, and happily washed and bagged by volunteers to be picked up by those in need.