Enchiladas, it is

September 16th

August 2009 001

I’m working with a charter high school on creating a community garden. I started last week working with the students and it was a culturally clueless experience. We are going to lasagna garden their small plot of land because at the moment, it is compacted dirt and unwilling to grow even tumbleweeds. When trying to explain the layers behind lasagna gardening, the kids looked at me like I was from the moon.

Finally, a boy in the back piped up. “Like enchiladas?”

“Yes, like enchiladas. So the cardboard base would be our tortillas, the shredded paper our shredded cheese, the coffee grounds our ground beef, etc…”

A light bulb turned on and they not only got it, they were — against all teenage instincts — a little excited.

August 2009 002

“Could we grow bananas?”

“No, guey, let’s grow ground beef.”

{I’m not kidding. They wanted to grow ground beef. }

“I want to grow flowers,” whispered the aptly named Dahlia in the back of the room.

“Well, how about spicy food? We could grow salsa.” Now I really had their attention.

I realized I needed new teaching techniques if I was going to make this project work. I hit the library and checked out a handful of books with basic elementary education plant experiments included.

August 2009 003

We are going to start by building our garden enchilada tomorrow. Ideally, we’ll plant vegetables for a salsa garden. They were even more excited by the possibility of making, canning and selling the salsa to fund other projects. I knew when to shut up and not ask about what that funding really would be used for. One step at a time.

I am excited to see them tomorrow and to dig into what could become a great community project.


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16 Responses

  1. Hahaha “no, guey”… This is going to be a great project. Wish I were there doing this with you. I’m sure there will never be a dull moment.

  2. you’re going to post the directions for this project right? I have a raised planter box on the side of the house that is begging to have a “salsa” garden with an “enchilada” base! but as per usual, I have created something without knowing exactly how to utilize it, lol! Send any tips my way!

  3. This sounds like such an awesome opportunity. Seriously, you’re the coolest girl I know. 🙂

  4. Let’s grow ground beef….classic.

  5. Sounds like you will have a lot of fun working with these kids!

  6. Cute turn of events!

  7. HAHA ground beef

  8. How great. I’m thrilled to hear they are so excited about this project. I wish you lots of luck!

  9. You must pics of the enchilada garden and the resulting salsa!

  10. Very cool! How inspiring. And of course I love that you have a student named DAHLIA! Whohoo!

  11. What a great project you’re embarked upon. It certainly seems to be timely considering their consideration of “ground beef” as a potential plant experience. I admit this made me laugh, although it’s also kind of sad in a way, too.

  12. I love the idea of an enchilada garden to grow salsa. That makes sense even to me, and I can’t grow anything.

  13. This project is so cool! Please keep sharing about it with us! 🙂

  14. Wonderful Kelli…good luck with your students. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to grow ground beef..just a thought.

  15. Kelli what a wonderful project for you and working ith teenagers ho obviously need some garden know-how (growing beef, yikes! LOL) I look forward to hearinf more about this and how the kids, garden and you progress. Love the enchilada garden techniques that will grow a salsa garden, to then learn how to cook and can, to then hold a fund-raiser for somethig wonderful at their schoo; I should hope! :-))) You never cease to inspire me my friend. I am off to make more plum jam to can. also considering trying plum conserve as well.

  16. This post made me smile. I had so many of those kind of “lost in translation” moments when I started teaching in LA. But, you do learn quickly to be culturally relevant. I used to say “Fold your paper like a hamburger” for folding in half horizontally. Now I say, “Fold it like a taco.” Enchilada gardening does work. Just ask my inlaw’s neighbor who tossed everything into the front yard and just left it. In no time it was a wild reflection of their dinner table.