Education

Seth Boyden Demonstration School’s Garden Recess Continues to Grow

48813f60277f307f4f05_Garden_Recess_Fall_2017_1_Group_shot_at_beds_preview.jpeg
Garden Recess at the Seth Boyden Demonstration School in Maplewood
21ae2e0f7e2265ce89b2_Garden_Recess_Fall_2017_7_with_Maggie_Tuohy_up_close_preview.jpeg
Maggie Tuohy
5404322b557a9bc66eee_Garden_Recess_Fall_2017_2_Group_shot_at_picnic_tables_preview.jpeg
Garden Recess at the Seth Boyden Demonstration School in Maplewood
651a6bd43462d03b9f80_Garden_Recess_Fall_2017_8_Teacher_Sheila_Murphy_leading_kindergarten_cooking_class_in_OLC_preview.jpeg
Seth Boyden teacher Sheila Murphy leads kindergarten cooking class in the Outdoor Learning Center
c2ca0dbc28a32d83f56e_Garden_Recess_Fall_2017_3_Group_shot_with_Strawberry_Fields_sign_preview.jpeg
48813f60277f307f4f05_Garden_Recess_Fall_2017_1_Group_shot_at_beds_preview.jpeg

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Who says children don’t eat vegetables? Let kids pick their own collard greens, then blend the leaves with olive oil, garlic, sunflower seeds, and lemon juice. Voilà: pesto!  Blend kale with apples and berries for smoothies. Sauté collards and carrots with olive oil and salt for a tasty stir-fry.

Greens pesto, kale smoothies, stir-fry, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes – all were served up this fall during Garden Recess at Seth Boyden Demonstration School. Each Friday, dozens of students opted to spend their recess in the school’s produce garden, “Strawberry Fields.” The kids harvested fruits, vegetables, and herbs, pressed flowers, created garden art, and watched nature happen all around them. 

“Seeing the kids want to learn during recess was a blast,” says Elizabeth Ebinger, a parent of three girls at Seth Boyden and a devoted Garden Recess volunteer. One of the greatest assets of Garden Recess, she said, is the school’s head gardener, Maggie Tuohy.

Sign Up for E-News

“That energy of hers is shining,” says Ebinger of Tuohy, who is also a certified elementary school teacher. “She has the magic touch with the kids.”  Tuohy’s four children have all attended Seth Boyden.

Tuohy said she finds inspiration from the children who choose Garden Recess. “There are some students who come to the garden every week simply to make a connection, to talk and play quietly with the adults or other children in the garden. Others love to search in the compost and under rocks and logs for insects, salamanders, and snakes.” Some students run into the garden pull a carrot, paint a picture, or taste some food before returning to their recess play.

Seth Boyden has the largest outdoor back yard space of any school in the South Orange-Maplewood School District. The Strawberry Fields produce garden forms part of Seth Boyden’s Outdoor Learning Center, which also includes an outdoor classroom, a performance circle, a large sundial, multiple play structures, and a host of native plantings and trees.

Garden Recess has been around for over 13 years, reports Tuohy. Shortly after the re-establishment of Seth Boyden as a demonstration school in 1999,  the school’s grounds began to be redesigned, and Strawberry Fields took form. The garden activities have evolved over the years as the parent community has changed, with each set of volunteer parents bringing what they love to the garden and passing along their methods and knowledge.  

Tuohy and Ebinger, who have been at the helm for the past few years, are both Master Gardeners (a designation received after completing an official university extension program).  Their book Recipes for a Successful School Garden: A Guide for Parents and Teachers, inspired by their experience at Seth Boyden, will be released in June 2018.

The Outdoor Learning Center – “OLC” – continues to evolve. In the open-air classroom, which was completed last year largely through PTA fundraising and volunteer efforts, teachers now engage their students on STEAM topics and projects.  On any good-weather day, a visitor here might encounter classes participating in a messy science experiment, exploring changes in the weather, writing at the outdoor tables, or holding a discussion in the performance circle, where a ring of flat rocks provides natural seating.  The outdoor classroom has also become a favorite spot for children to sit, talk, and play during recess.

In early December, architect and OLC committee chairperson Matthias Ebinger will lead a team of volunteers in a project to update Strawberry Fields.  The initiative will replace the current aging garden beds with more numerous, smaller beds that are more easily accessible to student gardeners.  Columbia High School student (and Seth Boyden alumnus) Joseph Badre will help to plan and build the new beds for his Eagle Scout Service Project.

Tuohy, who first pulled a carrot out of the ground when she was 40, hopes that Garden Recess participants will “find joy in their garden experiences – to wonder about what they see, hear, feel and taste.  I want the students to know how to take care of the plants and creatures of our garden so that they’re better able to take care of each other and our planet. I also want them to understand where food comes from and that they can grow the food that they eat.” As the collard pesto and kale smoothies demonstrate, kids are more inclined to try – and like – what they grow themselves.

Another benefit of Garden Recess is the opportunity for parents to see their children in action, and vice versa. Anna and Katja Ebinger enjoy Garden Recess in part because they get to hang out with their mom at school.  Katja, a kindergartner, also liked picking flowers for her family and “painting a fake bird pink with white dots on it!” “Pumpkin-spice sugar and banana-apple smoothies” were second-grader Anna’s favorite Garden Recess treats.

Other projects planned for the near future include the creation of a “nature story trail,” a meandering pathway with informational placards for plants and trees, which will turn the OLC into the SOMA Children’s Arboretum.  The committee, which consists solely of Seth Boyden parents, is also reviewing designs for permanent shades for the outdoor classroom. 

Related article

Seth Boyden School Opens New Outdoor Classroom

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

A Tale of Two Very Different Town Administrator Searches

Both Maplewood and South Orange are looking for new town administrators at the same time, a rare occurrence.

And their approaches couldn’t be any more different.

Maplewood, whose long-time administrator Joseph Manning is retiring May 31, launched its search last month the old-fashioned way: hiring a recruiting firm and letting them do the heavy lifting (or more appropriately the ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Teens Arrested for Theft from Auto

February 20, 2018

February 12 - Theft; A resident from Burroughs Way reported that sometime over the past day, a snow blower was stolen from an open garage.

February 17- Theft from Auto; At approximately 5:15 p.m., two males were observed going through vehicles on Hillcrest Rd.  Officers responded to the area and were able to locate two males fitting the description. The males, 18 year ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Two Arrested for Robbery in South Orange

Adult Arrest - Robbery - Shawn Ray Newsome, a 20 year old Newark resident and a 17 year old juvenile were arrested on Saturday, Feb. 3, at approximately 10:45 p.m. for robbery. Two male victims reported that as they were walking on South Orange Ave near the Newark border, they were approached by three actors (described as black males wearing dark clothing and black masks) who ...

Women's Club of Maplewood Donates $300K to Maplewood Library Foundation Capital Campaign

February 23, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Maplewood Library Foundation's Capital Campaign received $300,000 from the Women's Club of Maplewood on Thursday, the first major gift since the campaign began on Feb. 22, according to a release from the Maplewood Library.

The capital campaign is raising funds to renovate the main Maplewood Library "that will serve the community for generations to ...

Maplewood Chili Cookoff this Sunday Combines Food, Family Fun, and Fundraising for a Good Cause

Update on February 23: All Tasting Passes to the Maplewood Chili Cookoff are sold out. A few more spots are left to submit a chili, which can be done here.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - There's a new annual tradition in SOMA: The Maplewood Chili Cookoff. Back at The Woodland for its second year on Sunday, Feb. 25, the cookoff has local residents sharing their best chili ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, February 24, 7:00 PM

Grand Summit Hotel, Summit

The Burlesque Ball

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back Other

Carousel_image_337d02082fcbf48f3beb_mms_presents_r_h_cinderella

Sat, February 24, 7:30 PM

Maplewood Middle School Auditorium, Maplewood

Maplewood Middle School Presents Rogers & ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Carousel_image_8e821e02ba44390d688c_olympics_oh_feb_2018

Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend "Wacky Winter Olympics" Open House

Education Other

School Walkout Efforts Reach West Orange High School

February 22, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Hundreds of West Orange High School (WOHS) students participated in a peaceful walkout Wednesday afternoon in support of their fellow classmates in South Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people last week.

“They want to see change [in gun control],” said WOHS Principal Hayden Moore, who was present during the impromptu student-organized walkout.

Indictment Handed Down in Millburn Carjacking

TRENTON, NJ – An indictment was handed down in the November carjacking in Millburn where a 13-year old girl was allegedly grabbed by the neck and the suspect threatened to kill her. 

The 11-count state grand jury indictment charges Ahmed Anthony, 30, of Newark with conspiracy, carjacking, robbery and making terroristic threats among other charges. The conspiracy in the first-degree ...

Protesters Gather in Westfield to Demand Gun Control After Parkland Shooting

February 23, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Protesters gathered outside of Rep. Leonard Lance’s Westfield office Wednesday to rally for gun law reform and to hold a vigil after the recent Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

The Westfield Activist group Westfield 20/20 organizes weekly protests outside of Congressman Lance’s office but, to many, this protest felt different. Attendees included ...

Shouts of Racial Slurs Bring Police to Sparta Theatre

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night because of a woman shouting slurs in a screening of Black Panther.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including “look at these ‘n-word’” and “can you believe these ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace & Cafe - Feb. 23 to March 1

February 23, 2018

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:

Alaskan Cod Fillet $9.99lb (Ashley Fish Market)
Chuck for Stew/Stroganoff $6.99lb (Meat)
Thumann’s Deluxe Ham $8.98lb (Deli)
Midnight Moon $18.99lb (Cheese)
Red Globe Grapes $3.49lb
Cavendish Hash Browns 2/$5
Beef Meatloaf $6.99lb (Prep Food)
Polly O Ricotta $5.99 ...

Free Cardiac and Concussion Screenings for Young Athletes

The Matthew J. Morahan III Health Assessment Center for Athletes (MJM) at RWJBarnabas Health will provide free cardiac and concussion baseline screenings to young athletes on Saturday, March 3, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at South Mountain Recreation Complex, Codey Arena, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ.

When preliminary testing to identify serious cardiac problems is provided to ...

Parkland Moms Club Seeks Cards for Teachers and First Responders

In less then 24 hours, the Parkland Moms Club put a card making event together at the park next to the amphitheater which has turned into a massive memorial. Kids from infants to 5th graders helped create cards for teachers, first responders, and hospital workers. Paulina Splechta donated her amazing photography skills and sent us tons and tons of pictures. No matter your age, there is a way ...