SS Kids Plant at the Food Forest to Bring in the New Year!

Towards the end of December, Sowing Seeds kids weathered the cold with volunteer teachers Maria Offield and Anastasia Lynch to plant some new plants at the food forest to bring in the new year….and found some passion fruits growing too! Join us at our spring Food Forest Friday coming up to see their new plantings 🙂 … clove currants, black currants, red currants, rhubarb, and bamboo. #TeachKidsToPlayInTheDirt



SS Kids Plant Wheat, Harvest Wheat, Process Wheat, & Bake Bread– Seed to Table!

Months ago, the SS kids planted wheat seed at the Mountain Home food forest. When it was ready to harvest in the fall, SS volunteer teachers helped the kids cut it down and gather it together to store for grain. Last month, the grain was completely dry and it seemed the timing was right to teach the kids about the art of bread making. We watched a section of Michael Pollan’s “Cooked” documentary, ( which nests the practice of bread-making in the context of our human history, culture, and diet and also gives snapshots of different types of bread making around the world– the kids were more intrigued by this than expected!
After watching the film, the kids processed the grain by rubbing the heads of the wheat stalks between their palms and then gathering the seed, or “wheat berries” to place in the grinder that Lexy Close let us borrow– Thank you, Lexy!
After this, the kids mixed the flour, salt, and yeast, mixed with warm water to encourage its fermenting process. The kids kneaded the bread and then it was left to sit overnight. The next day, it was baked for our winter holiday celebration. It is special to see kids make the connection full circle– from seed, to harvest, to processing, to fermenting, to baking…. to offering nutritious food that becomes a gift for our families and communities– one that we hope they will realize they have the power and knowledge to create.
Thank you Andi Deason Clements for helping us access the church space for the holiday celebration. Thank you, dedicated teachers! Caro Dellenbaugh, Madison Carter-Wallace, Nakyla Brady and my program partner Taylor Malone, who inspires me with his vision of enlivening young hearts and minds by making nature the classroom.


(Above– watching Michael Pollan’s “Cooked” documentary.

Holiday celebration, featuring the kids’ finished bread!

“Pure Root-Crop Joy!”


Friends, thank you for the continued support of our BIU seed money campaign! We have raised over $900 thus far, and still have 26 days left to gather gifted donations– thank you for spreading the word and supporting.

Link to make a donation:…/build-it-up-east-tn-gardens

Here are some photos from our Sowing Seeds program this past week, where we taught the kids how to process apples to make apple sauce using an apple press, planted 3 rows of garlic, and learned about Sunchokes, an edible plant that is a new discovery for them!


Their excitement of the sunchoke harvest is best described in Taylor‘s words as he looked on at the scene, “Pure root-crop joy!”

Thank you to our teachers! Anastasia Lynch, Maria Offield, Madison Carter-Wallace, Nakyla Brady, Olivia Wagstaff

(Above photo– the recently purchased apple press– to teach the kids about small business through pressing apples for apple sauce and apple juice!)


And to our friend Aaron Matthew Free for joining us last week as a “customer” who came by for some sunchokes– they could barely contain their excitement!

Thank you Washington Co. Community Foundation for making this program possible!

Sowing Seeds Kids Make Bird Feeders From Gourds


A student’s “self portrait” on the bottom of their bird feeder gourd!
Bird feeder gourds hanging to dry at the food forest

Two Sowing Seeds programs ago opened with one of our junior teachers offering a meditation for the group. A junior teacher is a new role we have created for Sowing Seeds students who are older than 10 years old, who have been in the program now for one year, and who have demonstrated both leadership skills and the ability to care for and support their peers. We seek to support young leaders with opportunities to hone their skills and discover their passions.


After the meditation, we began the day’s craft, which was to create hand painted gourds to hang in the trees as birdfeeders and to support the birds with some extra nourishment through the colder months.



Before the SS kids went home, we gathered all the gourd seed that they had collected and packaged so that we can add these to their personal seed library that we have been working on this year.

Take a look at some of their beautiful creations~

Also, pumpkins were ready to harvest today! Join us at Food Forest Friday for the pumpkin pie we will cook up for the event!


SS Kids Learn How to Make Recycled Paper



This week at Sowing Seeds, the kids learned how to hand-make paper from old newspapers. The SS program focuses on teaching life skills through attentive mentorship of our volunteer teachers and through a nature-based curriculum which includes emotional literacy skills, nutrition knowledge, cooking and food growing skills, reading, ecoliteracy, community building, small business skills and learning to create art from natural and recycled materials.



Once the kids created a soup of torn-up newspaper in water and worked it close to being pulp, they gathered beautiful pieces of nature, such as petals and brightly colored amaranth seed, and added it to their mixture to create new sheet of paper. Gathering natural materials allowed them to observe more closely the changes that are happening in the food forest at this time of year—the Jerusalem artichokes were particularly amazing with their bright yellow blossoms! The children enjoyed adding these petals to their paper.



Along with teaching new skills, art projects teach possibility, new perspectives, expand the imagination, and foster a deeper connection to the self.


In a generation of young people highly exposed to phones, ipads, video games, TV, and other forms of electronic engagement, we seek to help young people maintain connection through experiences outside of screen time— planting, creating, and connecting with the natural environment, and one another.

SS Kids Learn Emotional Literacy Skills with ‘Calm Jars’ at the Food Forest~

Maria, a volunteer teacher, helps a student with the sparkles for her Calm Jar.

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(Above: planting watermelon seed after enjoying the food forest watermelon– giving back to the earth to help grow new watermelons.)

This week at Sowing Seeds, we learned about self-awareness and about tools to manage emotional stresses and triggers in daily life. An important value in the Sowing Seeds curriculum is placed on facilitating learning opportunities for the kids to develop their own skills of “emotional literacy”— the ability to not only know themselves and know their triggers, but also to feel empowered to meet these emotional challenges with skills that allow them to calm and steady their heart and minds. We discussed meditation as one of these techniques and a student shared about how she used meditation and music to support herself during a painful time of loss.


A SS teacher, Abbey, demonstrated how thoughts and emotions can stir up our minds with the use of baking soda and a vase of water. She then pointed out the way that the baking soda settles when we still and quiet ourselves. This allowed for a more tangible and visible example of the way our troublesome thoughts and emotions can cloud our vision and cause disruption in our inner equanimity.

Abbey, a volunteer teacher, demonstrates the way that emotions and negative thoughts can cloud our minds, using baking soda in a vase of water– followed by a class discussion on what clouds their minds in their daily life.

The kids then crafted their own “Calm Jars”—which were based on ideas from parents who have posted online about this creative approach to helping children understand their emotions and their ability to bring themselves back to a peaceful place through quiet, reflection, breath, and placing their attention on something positive and comforting.

Teachers help the kids create their Calm Jars.

To close our activities for the day, the kids harvested the watermelon which was ripe for the picking and there was plenty to go around! We then invited the kids to plant a few of its seeds, to give back to the earth, and help a new generation of watermelons to grow!

Slicing the food forest watermelon to share!




*For a link to the craft, click here~



Sowing Seeds Kids Learn About Pawpaws, , Fire-Making, & Roasting Chestnuts Over the Open Fire!

The SS kids observe bow-drilling, a primitive skills technique to starting a fire.

This past week at Sowing Seeds, we opened the program with a reading exercise focused on strengthening literacy skills. With the help of our new team of 2017-2018 SS teachers, the kids are able to receive one-on-one mentorship, and this we value immensely. Following reading at the food forest, we learned about pawpaws— what they are, how to eat them, and how to plant the seeds to grow more pawpaw trees. Thank you Taylor for the wild-foraged pawpaws to taste!

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Taylor shares with the kids pawpaws he foraged locally!

After this, we showed them how to start a fire using primitive skills techniques, which then allowed us to roast locally harvested chestnuts over the fire.

Preparing to roast chestnuts on an open fire after busting an ember!
Above: The committed team of SS teachers allows for the kids to learn and experience their educational activities with one-on-one mentorship. Thank you teachers!


Part of the vision behind Sowing Seeds is to teach young people to see and experience food in a new way— to realize that they can be agents in growing, foraging, cooking, and selling food. Many children’s daily experiences in present-day society separates them from their food and from the idea that there are wild foods that are within reach in our local environments. We seek to mend this gap and reconnect children with their food, their natural environments, and the deeper places within themselves.

The students discover passion fruit growing on the vine at the Mountain Home Food Forest!

We are incredibly thankful to our primary program partner, the ETSU Nutrition Program for their continued support that has made the Sowing Seeds program possible. And thank you to all of our new Nutrition Graduate students who are our newest volunteer teachers for the 2017-2018 program year!