MEA Gardens

Garden Educator: Ms. Shannon Stewart


Shannon Stewart is a former professional animal trainer-turned garden educator.
After almost two decades in the animal theme park industry, she discovered her love for and connection to gardens...and guiding students through the “growing food and pollinator gardens” formula.
She’s a former collegiate (Biology degree) soccer player with a love for anything outdoors, kids, animals, and gardens—not necessarily always in that order.
She’s a mom to an active 10 year old boy, lives in the Clairemont community, and is beginning her 3rd year of teaching Sage Garden Project curriculum at two local elementary schools.
She is also a National Geographic Certified Educator.
If she isn’t working in the gardens, you’ll find her writing grants to support all the items needed to keep every garden healthy and vibrant, walking neighbor’s dogs with her son, or enjoying the amazing outdoor spaces around San Diego...and beyond.
She’s excited to be a part of the close-knit, garden-loving Mt. Everest community!

* * Early Fall 2021 * *

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The sunflower season has finished, and now it’s time to prepare the raised beds at the front of the school for food production as we gear up for our K-5 nutritional science classes, offered via the Sage Garden Grant. We have a “garden growing wish list” from the chefs who run the program, so the next few weeks will require some continued work in the gardens. We have one bed planted out with bunching onions, cucumbers, carrots, Italian flat leaf parsley, and green romaine lettuce—all seeds.

More to come!


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* * Summer Farmstand * *

Students participated in Garden time, Chicken Care and running the MEA Farmstand over the Summer! We generated over $1400 in profits from the six Farmstands we hosted. All proceeds went to support the garden and chickens.


INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/meafarmstand/

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As of 7/13/21:

The students harvested Zinnias, watermelon radishes, and cobra beans from the front garden at MEA. We harvested several patty pan squashes and a few tomatoes from the garden by the chickens. The rest of the items came from other school gardens, or Miss Shannon’s front and backyard.

We have generated just under $1000 to support the MEA chickens (feed and new shade structure) and future improvements there. We also have some funds available to support Garden needs!

The students and parents are doing a phenomenal job supporting this endeavor!
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Farmstand 8/17/21:

We provided a bountiful harvest of cucamelons and zinnias. We also offered some fresh tomatoes, chicken eggs, seed packets, sunflower seeds for growing mammoth sunflowers, potted succulents, fresh herb bundles, green onions, Persian cucumbers, and two big bowls of White winter pearmain apples:
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* * Spring 2021 * *

Looking good out here!

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Garden Time

We had a productive garden hour (with some chicken treat time) on Wednesday, replanting several of the half wine barrels with summer crops. The students selected and then planted the seeds, as well as treated the corn crops in the front garden with an organic fish and kelp fertilizer—it may be stinky, but corn plants (being heavy nitrogen feeders) need it!


It’s always peaceful, productive and fun in the MEA gardens!


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Potting Succulents

The 5th graders experienced an impromptu garden half hour during their “recess” at last week’s Unplugged event. We took the opportunity to create succulent planters - each one was unique!


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Hanging Baskets during Study Zone

Garden time is fantastic at MEA!

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Turning a space into a (desirable) place

Miss Shannon has been “bebopping” between garden spaces, and each space is unique.


The wine barrel garden has a leak that is difficult to pinpoint, so Miss Shannon decided to take advantage of the wicking action this leak provides a growing seed and plant...and planted some seeds!

(+ there are a few “surprise” = unlabeled seeds in there)


Admittedly, Miss Shannon is terrible at labeling where she sows seeds. She doesn’t like to slow down and take the time to make labels (and ultimately, what you label you take better care of), so if you are an artistic and crafty person, Miss Shannon could use your help with plant labels in both gardens! Find something you like on the internet or in a book, and suggest it/bring it to the gardens!


For high school students, this has become a tranquil spot to study in the afternoons.

The 25 + year old mature Green Ash tree towers over the table (and four chairs) at the center of the garden, and welcomes anyone who would like to come out for some beautiful scenery and adorable chickens sounds.

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Planting for Our (Food) Future

This Earth Day event was led by Ms. Shannon Stewart. Students learned about native pollinators and what it takes to create a Certified Wildlife Habitat. They also helped prep the garden space and planted seeds and small plants.


SEE PHOTO GALLERY

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"Black gold" fertilizer

1) These brothers are making piles to separate worms from the “black gold” (worm poop), which is an excellent fertilizer. Next they add the black gold to the planting holes for plants they started from seed during our Earth Day event.


2) Flower “first letter of your name” craft activity.

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Growing a cutting flower garden at MEA

Flowers for a Cutting Garden | Old Farmer's Almanac


We have planted a few of the suggestions from this Old Farmer’s Almanac article (amaranth, zinnias, sunflowers).


Best part—cutting flowers don’t need extra nitrogen/fertilizer!


What else would you add?


We’ll be hosting a few farmers markets over the summer—let’s get growing!

What’s “growing” on?

One of the most reinforcing parts about planting seeds is to see them sprouting…and the teachers walking by the space are excited to see the changes every day.

Within just a few days, these mammoth sunflower seeds began to break through the soil. Believe it or not, we have 100% germination with these particular seeds, which isn’t always the case! Can you predict why some seeds will begin to grow and some won’t?

Could that be a reason why the back of the seed packet instructs you to plant more seeds than you actually have space for (and advises the thinning out process later on)?


There are many things to think about when you are creating garden spaces, planting seeds, and growing edible crops.


Stop by and view the sunflower seedlings in the front garden!


Triple Treat for the Senses

When you are visiting campus, feel free to stop by the reinvigorated front garden area, with fresh Aleppo Pine and eucalyptus mulch around the weeded and amended raised garden beds.

Your senses will be awakened!

Sight:

It looks cleaner, freshened up, and ready to grow some amazing crops!

Touch:

Walk around the beds, and feel like you’re walking on the spongy layer of forest floor

Smell:

As you step on the mulch, the oils from the trees are released and you will get a whiff of a holiday memory.

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Garden Helpers

Pulling a few weeds, and planting a few seeds!


Ms. Ele helped with raking out the new mulch.

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