A Living Library Gardens Inspire Gratitude

               Gratitude, Thankfulness, Appreciation, Gratefulness. 

These are just a few words that express A Living Library and Life Frames, Inc.’s sentiments towards its generous donors, partnering schools, hardworking teachers, and engaging students.  We feel lucky and grateful for the giving nature of A.L.L.’s strong garden community, and these sentiments can not be expressed enough.

In January, OMI/ Excelsior and Junipero Serra Branch Living Library & Think Park’s students welcomed in the New Year, 2013, with much needed reflection on the bounty around us. Upon returning from the winter break, students shared highlights of their vacations of celebrating time with family and friends over meals, travels, and holiday celebrations. Our students discussed the importance of articulating appreciation, and how we can show appreciation, and share our gratitude at school and at home.

While our youngest students practiced their reading and writing skills through hand-made, Thank You Cards, with full illustrations, our older students took their introspection skills a step further, and developed beautiful poems of gratitude.

Students were able to find quiet and healing spaces in our OMI/Excelsior and Junipero Serra Living Library Gardens  for inspiration in peaceful surroundings, which helped them reflect upon the love of their families and appreciation of A.L.L. Most students expressed appreciation for the love of their families; even the 5 yr. olds knew how important love is !

 By the end of January, we turned our eyes towards the IMG_0425Garden where our OMI/Excelsior Student Stewards Mentors and After School classes learned about an ancient companion planting trio, Corn-Bean-Squash.  They harvested and prepared a feast to pay homage to the bounty of the land.

These Three Sisters, are traditionally planted together and work to support one another in providing nutrients, structure, or protection to the others. In legend, the Sisters are always to be grown, eaten, and celebrated together, and thus exude environmental, nutritional, and cultural sustainability.

This year our Three Sisters had a true blue star, the Hopi Blue Corn; a many hundred year old corn variety originating from the Hopi territory of the Four Corners.  Hopi Blue Corn not only boasts increased nutritional value over common yellow and white corns but it is also a cultural idol signifying the rising sun, the beginning of life, wisdom, and understanding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hopi_maize).

January’s Meal of the Month is a Three Sister Succotash       IMG_0550

Ingredients:

-1/2 medium Cinderella Pumpkin, de-seeded, peeled, and cubed (any of your choice can be substituted)

-2 cups Pinto Beans, cooked

-1 cup Hopi Blue Corn kernels, fresh

-1 tbs. Olive Oil

Pre-cook Pinto Beans from dry storage by soaking them in a deep pot of water  overnight. When beans are plump, boil them in excess water for 30 min-1 hr.  Add subtle flavors, such as garlic, onion, salt, and pepper to taste. Or, buy pre-cooked beans. Heat a pan with olive oil. Add pumpkin cubes; as they cook, their color will brighten, to a deep orange.  When pumpkin is soft, and easy to pierce, add fresh corn off the cob, and cooked beans.  Stir constantly, while beans and corn are warming.  Sprinkle with seasoning if desired, but other flavors really don’t need to be added to this hearty, complete-protein meal.

Cheers to Land.  Cheers to Life.  Be Grateful for it all, and Enjoy !

Enjoy your Three Sisters Succotash

Enjoy your Three Sisters Succotash

 Submitted by Courtney Calkins, A.L.L instructor

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