FRESHFARM's food education program in partnership with DC Public Schools

FoodPrints is an education project of FRESHFARM that integrates gardening, cooking, and nutrition education into the curriculum at partner elementary schools. Watch the FoodPrints video to see our program in action. 

Milkweed Madness! - by Ibti Vincent

"Parsley, tomatoes, chard, pepper, and kale: 
We've got it all here at the Tyler garden sale!"

Such was the cheer written and performed (with corresponding cartwheels) by a group of 4th and 5th grade girls who had volunteered to help out at the milkweed seedling sale last month. We raised over $400 for FoodPrints supplies -- way more than any of us ever imagined when we were cold-treating a bag of saved milkweed seeds back in February. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Starting seeds with Ms. Willis' First Graders in March.

There were so many great moments surrounding these little seedlings, these future homes and salad bars for the endangeredMonarch Butterflies. And, happily, I managed to capture some of these moments on film....

There was the excitement of the first plants sprouting:

Milkweeds sprouting in the GrowLab in April.

nd then the fun of transplanting:

Transplanting in Ms. Willis' class.

More transplanting...

And more transplanting:

Transplanting during recess.

Yep, lots of transplanting -- these were some vigorous milkweed seeds!

Germination is fun!

Two long months of life in a climate controlled growlab and daily care by Ms. Willis' class, it was time to start "hardening off" the plants to get them ready for planting outside. Every morning for a week 1st graders would carefully carry down the trays of seedlings to a shaded spot by the tool shed, and every afternoon they would dutifully carry them back up to the classroom:

"Hardening off" our milkweed in May.

At last it was time to put some plants in the ground. Here's a pic of super-parent, Suzanne Wells (who collected the original milkweed seeds) transplanting our first batch of milkweed into Tyler's outdoor classroom:

A parent super-volunteer transplants milkweed into the outdoor classroom at Tyler.

inally, we had to figure out what to do with the rest of the nearly 150 milkweed seedlings, and rescued "volunteer" tomato transplants... so we had a seedling sale, with a few other miscellaneous little plants thrown in for good measure. Many of them found happy homes in Tyler family homes and gardens, thanks to these diligent (and adorable) salespeople:

Tyler's milkweed sale in May.

To all who helped nurture these milkweed plants, and to those who bought them to help create more habitat for the beautiful Monarch butterflies in the larger Tyler community, THANK YOU!!

- Written by Ibti Vincent