• Blatchley Middle School students learn about local soils and local foods

(The following is a letter to the editor sent to the Daily Sitka Sentinel from Blatchley Middle School earth science teacher Karen Lucas. The letter ran in the Thursday, May 16, 2013, edition, and Karen provided the Sitka Local Foods Network with a copy to post on our site.)

Dear Editor,

For our soil conservation studies, the seventh grade earth science students at Blatchley Middle School had a local soils expert come to class.

On a very sunny Monday, a couple weeks ago, Kerry MacLane, clad in bib overalls and broad brimmed hat, with his loaded-up wheelbarrow with five types of local soil, mini-greenhouse, plant starts, a very informative visual presentation, a tubular water wall, and a scavenger hunt up his sleeve that included a solar electric panel, solar powered fan, kale plants, newest compost pile, garlic and raspberry canes, wheeled his way down the halls of Blatchley.

After a concise basic powerpoint on local soils, greenhouse productivity, where our food comes from, and how Sitka disposes of waste; and learning that optimum soil for Sitka is one-third native soils, one-third compost and one-third sand; that starfish and herring eggs are good for the garden, too, and the lively discussion therewith; two teams were supplied each with a different scavenger hunt, and the class departed for the Blatchley Community Garden behind the school to identify items on their list.

Students nibbled on chives, kale and rhubarb, and generally exulted in being outdoors on that fine day in spring. Returning to the classroom, discussion ensued about the Farmer’s Markets, community greenhouse project, and the Sitka Local Foods Network, and how students could get involved in local gardening at home or in the community.

Kerry has certainly helped raise the consciousness of Blatchley students, and Sitkans alike, has been, and continues to be, instrumental in helping Sitka to progress toward sustainability in growing our own food, promoting community gardens, spearheading the Sitka Farmers Markets, and local greenhouse project that is underfoot, for all this, and for spending that Monday with us in the indoor and outdoor classroom, the Blatchley Middle School seventh grade earth science students are grateful; so, on their behalf and mine,  thank you, Mr. MacLane, for sharing your knowledge with us about local soils, making relevant and useful, the ‘dirt on dirt.’

Karen Lucas
Earth Science Teacher
Blatchley Middle School