“I’m going to bring my nature journal anytime I go to a nature place this summer in case I need to draw any plants or animals.”

With the foggy chill in the air, it’s hard to believe summer break is here. Hopefully some second graders will stay true to their words and continue working in their nature journals we started together in our garden this year!

The past few weeks have been a flurry of saying goodbyes and tying up loose project ends. I sadly will not be coming back for the 2015-2015 school year, but Samantha Arcata is on her way as Spring Valley’s new Education Outside garden educator!

Our beds are sheet-mulched and ready for the summer. Thanks to the 2nd graders in Room 12 for helping to tear newspaper and pull out old plants to lay down as decomposer food underneath the cardboard sheets. We hope this process will continue to build up life in our sandy soil! We also unearthed seemingly endless carrots in the process (purple, red, yellow, and orange), which we thoroughly enjoyed after our hard work.


beans climbing up the trellis…

One of the final projects of the year was building a raised bed to hold up a trellis to block some wind from whipping into our outdoor classroom. I want to extend a HUGE thank you to Mrs. Rivera for spending this entire past weekend with me at school to get this project in the ground! She helped me to negotiate unexpected underground water pipes and dying drill batteries to bring this vision to life.


The box is assembled (thanks to Nicky!) and holes are getting dug for the support posts


Finally set up with all holes avoiding water pipes 🙂


attaching the support posts


The trellis is up and the soil is ready for plants…


thanks to Mrs. Rivera’s endless help and creativity!


We planted four different varieties of passiflora vine. I’m excited to see them blossom into flowers as they take over the trellis!



The trellis will help to protect our outdoor classroom from excessive wind as well as visually enclose the space a bit.

Our garden has undergone a LOT of transformations these past two years (from asphalt to a living community)! Check out the progression…

Picture 4

October 2013


May 2014


May 2015

And our outdoor classroom…


For the 2013-14 school year, our outdoor classroom was on the uncomfortable stairs and dusty d.g covered the ground all around.


We seriously updated our outdoor classroom this year – with a new paving stone floor, wind/visual barriers on the fence, beautiful garden agreement signs, a whiteboard, benches, a direction post, and, now, a raised bed with a trellis to block more wind!


an up-close look at the outdoor classroom area.

We also added a rainwater cistern and compost bins as some additional teaching and sustainability tools!

It has been such a pleasure to work at Spring Valley for these past two years, and it is with a very heavy heart that I have to say goodbye. I feel incredibly lucky and thankful to have had the support of such a phenomenal, diverse, and curious school community to begin the design of this garden and outdoor science education program through Education Outside. Thank you especially to all of the parents, students, and teachers who offered up their weekend time to complete projects in our garden! I am excited to continue to watch from afar how the garden grows and develops into an even richer ecosystem and learning space – and to hear about all the surprises that pop up (like these unexpected cabbage buds around where we harvested the cabbage head for our spring rolls!).


Happy summer!

❤ Taryn



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2 responses to ““I’m going to bring my nature journal anytime I go to a nature place this summer in case I need to draw any plants or animals.”

  1. Maribel Rivera-Phillips

    Thank you, Taryn! You will be sorely missed! I look forward to watching you work your magic with children where ever you end up. Much love from the Spring Valley community. ❤

  2. Taryn you are a heroic, inspiring, beautiful, talented human being!! Those before and after pictures are insane!!!’ I hope you are feeling proud and incredibly accomplished knowing that was ALL because of you!! You’re a real life change maker. So proud to know you!!! Xoxo

    P.S. Still want to see you this week – you leave Thursday?!!

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