25 10, 2022

“Dog berries”

By |2022-10-25T07:26:45-06:00October 25th, 2022|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

It’s become an annual tradition for third and fourth graders to harvest the berries of our Cornelian cherry tree (Cornus mas). The name is a misnomer; it’s not a cherry at all, but a dogwood, albeit with enormous, pitted fruits. Americans don’t know what to do with them, but in the Middle East, where the tree is from, the berries are used to make a tart sauce akin to pomegranate syrup.

We make a quick jam with the “dog berries” that the students consume on the spot, while it’s still hot.

29 03, 2022

Chicken change in 2022

By |2022-03-29T09:38:40-06:00March 29th, 2022|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

For the past four springs, we have hosted chickens in the Ancona garden. That will change in 2022, when we’ll take a chicken break, at least for the spring.
In the past, we’ve relied on 7-10 regular, non-teacher volunteers to care for the hens on weekends, holidays, and summer weeks when Ancona staff aren’t around. Those volunteers have dwindled. Without them, teachers end up coming to school every day to feed the hens. It’s too much to ask with all the extra efforts teachers are making.
So it will be good to have a spring without chickens to rethink priorities. Maybe it’s time to reinvest the time and energy into another animal or crop. Several parents and students have expressed interest in growing mushrooms.
If you’d like to help with the school garden, or have ideas about hosting critters, please reach out to Chris, .
17 12, 2021

Ducks come calling

By |2021-12-17T09:40:45-06:00December 17th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

We’ve been fortunate to have numerous animal guests over the years. Recently, Ancona sixth grader Marie Benson brought three of her pet ducks to the garden for a one-day residency.

Nearly every student in the school came out to meet and feed them, and some came multiple times. We learned about ducks as a species, bird care basics, and the difference between domestic animals and wild ones.

Thanks to Marie for her vision and persistence and to her dad Steve for helping make it happen.

17 12, 2021

And the pumpkins go smash

By |2021-12-17T09:34:08-06:00December 17th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

One of our favorite fall traditions is to collect pumpkins from Ancona families and neighbors for composting. They’re a huge amount of biomass that would otherwise go to waste!

First, though, we give them a good a smashing so they’ll decay faster.

For a live-action look, download this nine-second video. It’s well worth the time!


25 10, 2021

Community composting at Ancona

By |2022-10-20T07:08:36-06:00October 25th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

Ancona has been teaching students to compost for two decades. We accept compostable goods from the school building, from students’ homes, and from school neighbors. In a given year, we divert 2,000-3,000 gallons of organic waste from landfills.

If you’d like to participate, here’s a list of what we accept. And here’s an Edutopia blog about how composting fits into our curriculum.

What we compost 

  • Fruits and vegetables–please remove stickers, rubber bands, and ties
  • Tea and paper tea bags 
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings from treated lawns
  • Paper towels and kleenexes (as long they’re not greasy or doused in cleaning spray)
  • Shredded office paper (white paper only)
  • Cut flowers and potted plants 
  • Paperboard takeout containers (rinsed)
  • Brewing mash
  • Bread 
  • Nut hulls
  • Egg shells
  • Oyster and mussel shells
  • Pet waste and bedding from rabbits

What we do not compost

  • Seafood and meats
  • Dairy
  • Hair
  • Pet waste from dogs, cats, reptiles
  • Sawdust
  • Plastic tea bags
  • Pulled weeds or diseased plants
  • Pencil shavings–never, ever, ever!
  • Dental floss
  • Disposable cleaning wipes (they’re made of plastic)

Compostable goods can be left in the buckets outside the Kenwood garden gate, 4737 S. Kenwood.

30 08, 2021

Volunteer salute: Johanna and Joel

By |2021-08-30T06:12:41-06:00August 30th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

Volunteers are the lifeblood of almost every garden. So it’s a bummer when Ancona’s best teacher-gardener, Johanna, shown here with her partner Joel, moves on to garden elsewhere.

Johanna contributed buckets and buckets of compost from classroom and home. She devised bilingual garden labels. She imported seeds for Puerto Rican specialty peppers. She fed chickens. Joel built the raspberry bed. Both of them watered wilting plants on brutally hot days.

Que tengas muchas plantas hermosas siempre, Johanna y Joel.

28 07, 2021

Why don’t people like Swiss chard?

By |2021-07-28T10:54:06-06:00July 28th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

We grow lots of kale and collard greens in our school garden, and they’re always easy to give away. We also grow many beets, which are equally popular.

There’s a similar crop that nobody ever wants, though: Swiss chard.

Chard’s lack of popularity is mysterious. Chard is actually in the beet family, so the taste is not unfamiliar. It’s no more bitter than kale or collards. And it arguably looks better than most garden crops.

My wild guess is that there are no classic fall recipes involving chard. In autumn, people crave roasted root veggies and greens richly flavored with smoked meats.  The traditions around these dishes must make bitter tastes more palatable somehow. But chard is not associated with an American tradition or region as far as I can tell.

So we harvest and donated a chard bunches to a nearby Love Fridge. Hopefully somebody can use it. If not, we’ll rip it all the chard and plant something more popular.


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