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Archives for July 2014

Gardening With Kids, Why It’s Important

Gardening with kids has so many benefits. Everything from teaching them to eat better to helping them be more independent. 

Gardening with kids, why it's important #gardening #parenting

What’s the big deal about growing your own food?  Our food supply in the United States is increasingly becoming unhealthier.  Fast food and convenience foods are so processed and loaded with synthetic chemicals that groceries are more like a science experiment than a meal.  We can shop for whole foods like meat, dairy, and produce for a healthier diet, right?  With the increasing use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides even our fresh foods are becoming more polluted than ever before.

My name is Christina and I run Little Sprouts Learning Garden, a home daycare in Oklahoma.  The more I learn about our food supply, the more careful I want to be about what I feed my daycare kids and my family.  In small-town Oklahoma, organic food is hard to find, although it is more available than ever before.  How can I KNOW what I’m feeding my kids is as synthetic chemical free as possible?  By growing it myself.

Kids are 80% more likely to try foods that they helped grow, harvest, and prepare.  The best way to encourage them to try a variety of healthy produce is by helping them grow it and teaching them to prepare it themselves.  For the first 16 years of daycare, I tried to grow food with my kids.  We had smothering weeds, inadequate light, poor soil, bug attacks, bad seeds, and innumerable big mistakes.  But three years ago I got a call from my friend Claudia.  She had gotten a flyer in the mail about a class about gardening with our daycare kids.  She asked me if I wanted to go with her and I emphatically said YES!  She signed us up and we learned the basics of gardening with kids.

gardening with kids

Doug Walton was the teacher of the “gardening 101” portion of our class.  The information he shared was life-changing.  He went over every part of basic gardening.  One thing I learned in the class is plants do not grow well in clay soil.  The clay holds too much water and suffocates the roots of the plants.  The soil in my yard has so much clay you can dig a shovel full of it and begin to sculpt.  So the answer for us it was raised beds.  The class provided one 3×10 raised bed for each daycare facility.  When we got ours, we got to grow and finally found some successes.

One of my daycare parents built us a second raised bed and taught us how he built the simple frame.  The second year, we built four more and added some other containers.  The third year we talked to the owner of the field next to our house and he said we could grow whatever we wanted in it.

We were no longer bound by limited space, so we set out to expand.  We wanted to keep the expansion small enough that we could still manage it.  We did some research and drew up some plans and ended up with a 20 x 80 area that we planned to use.  We needed a fence, beds, soil, seeds, plants, and some type of weed barrier.

We went door to door in our town to local businesses and people asking them to help us build this dream for the kids.  People donated used chain link fencing, old privacy fence, landscape timbers and other used wood, seeds, money, advice, and labor.  We built the outer fence and then began building raised beds from the privacy fence pieces.  Next, we bought cedar planks to build the remaining beds.  Then we got a load of garden soil and filled all the beds.  The daycare families were instrumental in getting all of the materials in place.

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Once we had most of the beds filled (several still remain empty as we ran out of funding, time, and energy), we let the kids plant a variety of seeds and plants that we had grown inside earlier in the season.

What have my Little Sprouts learned from this experience?

They are trying and enjoying a much wider variety of fresh produce than they were even at the beginning of this summer.  When introducing a new food, I let them decide when they want to try it and if I like it, I let them know.  I never pressure them to try anything.  I just let nature take its course.  Lots of healthy fresh foods are being eaten here that just a few years ago I would never have imagined kids even trying much less begging for.

They have also learned to prepare dishes they can recreate or ask for at home, which is teaching their families to like healthier foods.  I even have some older kids creating recipes of their own with our homegrown produce.

I have children as young as 1 that can plant a seed or seedling properly all on their own with just a few words of guidance from me.  I use their knuckles to tell them how many knuckles deep the seeds need to be.  I show the youngest ones, and after that, they can do it.  With this knowledge, we have the chance to save the beautiful art of gardening from dying with an older generation.  There are fewer and fewer people that have the knowledge to produce food.  Our future needs that knowledge.

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They are learning about life cycles, metamorphosis, germination, botany, entomology, pollinators, caring for the earth, and so many things they could never be listed.  This is knowledge this world needs!

The garden brings knowledge, closeness to nature, health, exercise, fresh air, and many other things.  It’s a place where the world is at peace and makes sense.  Some of my children have remarked that working in the garden is more fun than video games, and it keeps them out of trouble, is cool, yummy, fun, and smells good.  These are just a small example of the benefits we receive from this magical place we call the garden.

My hope is sharing our garden with others will plant a seed in them.  If you have the knowledge to grow your food, do it and teach it.  If you don’t, seek it out and learn it.  Gardening can change the world.  It begins with a little sprout and it grows and grows….  Grow something today!

For more on Little Sprouts Learning Garden please visit our website or Facebook page.



Drought Continues Despite Recent Rain


Click for full image

Recent rain has almost doubled the amount of the state not experiencing drought. Central Oklahoma received 3-6+ inches of rain last week. However, nearly 90 percent of the state is still abnormally dry or experiencing drought conditions. Just under 6 percent of the state is currently in the worst stage of drought, exceptional.

It’s pretty unusual for Oklahoma to receive relief like this during the summer month so any improvement in drought conditions is welcome! And more rain is on the way, as well as cooler temperature.

The long term drought forecast looks bleak for states like California and Texas, with the outlook showing the drought intensifying. The outlook for Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona looks more promising.

Water conservation is still key around the state as many of our lakes are still very low. And water concerns continue around the state and the country.

Check out some of our simple water conservation tips to help with the on-going water crisis. And share your tips in the comments below or on our Facebook page

Oklahoma Sees it’s Worst Wheat Crop Since 1957

Photo Credit: Bluemoose

Oklahoma Wheat Commission director Mike Schulte says the current projection is for about 51 million bushels of wheat in the state, half as much as last year.

This would make it the worst crop since 1957, which saw 43 million bushels. The ongoing drought, late freeze and untimely late spring rains are to blame for the poor wheat crop.

“Cassidy Grain elevator co-owner Mike Cassidy in Frederick says the harvest that began in early June virtually ended before it started. Cassidy says most of the wheat that was cut this year was set aside for use as seed next year.” – read more at News 9

This is not the only bad news for Oklahoma’s wheat producers. Global wheat production saw it’s second largest production on record. This is driving down US exports and global prices.

Farmers remain hopeful for next year. However, in the meantime, we can expect beef and grain costs to go up.

Photo Credit: Bluemoose

Featured Business: Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails

Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails is a restaurant in Norman, Oklahoma. They use real ingredients and cook from scratch, as the name suggests. They even use this concept when it comes to their cocktails.

You will find a wide range of delicious dishes at Scratch but what you won’t find is high fructose corn syrup, bleach and enriched flour, or preservatives.

We got the chance to speak to Brady T. Sexton, the owner of Scratch, and here is what he had to say about his restaurant and going green.

Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails

GO: What was your motive for starting Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails?
Brady: I always wanted to have a restaurant of my own and make everything from scratch, the right way. The concept started with the bar, making cocktails with fresh-squeezed juices and house-made syrups, and using old-school formulas.

GO: Why is it important that your restaurant is eco-friendly?
Brady: At home and at work, it is important to do what you can do whenever you get the chance to ease the strain on our infrastructure, to reduce demand for petroleum products, and to be a part of the solution and not the problem.

GO: What’s the best advice you have ever gotten about going green?
Brady: Stop driving, stop paying for gas, and get on a freaking bicycle!

GO: What is your favorite item on the menu?
Brady: I love all of our “center-of-the-plate” items, but they’re all meat and I don’t eat much meat. My favorite is probably the Veggie Quinoa Bowl because our chef does a great job preparing the quinoa and the tomato sauce, and the fresh veggies rotate and are often from local farmers.

GO: Why do you feel it’s important to support locally owned businesses?
Brady: The multiplier effect in economics is the #1 factor for me. Every dollar spent locally basically “bounces” around the local economy and becomes worth more and more. A dollar spent that leaves the local economy goes straight to a giant corporation.

GO: What is your favorite thing to do in Oklahoma?
Brady: Probably water ski on any of our wonderful lakes, or hike the Wichitas with my family.

GO: Other than your own business, what is your favorite eco-friendly business in Oklahoma?
Brady: Stash in Norman.

If you would like to learn more about Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails, please be sure like them on Facebook, and don’t forget to tell them we sent you.

We hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails and the face behind the business. Be sure to let us know about other local green businesses you would like to see featured. Just post in the comments below, on our Facebook page or email us at gogreenokla@gmail.com.

All photos are property of Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails.

Oklahoma is Starting the Week off Shaking

After a shaky weekend, the work week is off to a shaky start as well. Early this morning a 3.9 magnitude earthquake shook Medford.

During the weekend Oklahoma was rocked by seven earthquakes. The largest was a 4.3 magnitude quake in Langston on Saturday. There were no reports of damage or major injury.


Earthquake map of the last seven days.

The other quakes on Saturday were much smaller. And on Sunday there were three more quakes, with one registering 4.0.

These earthquakes are part of a trend in the state. As of last month, Oklahoma had surpassed California for the number of earthquakes this year.

Oklahoma has always had earthquakes but not in nearly this number. From 1978 to 2008, Oklahoma had an average of two quakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. As of June 19, 2014, there were 207 quakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater in the state, says USGS.

The increase began in 2009 with 20 quakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater, and the number has been increasing every year since, other than 2013.

Several studies have pointed to disposal wells used in oil and gas drill as the possible cause of the earthquake increase. While linking each earthquake to the wells is very difficult the overall trend does seem to have a link.

One of the studies showing this link was done by the U.S. Geological Survey, led by USGS geophysicist, William Ellsworth.

“Something is going on out of the ordinary,” Ellsworth said. “The largest preponderance of evidence,” he said, points to the Oklahoma and Colorado quakes and the rise in the number of midcontinent earthquakes being caused by injection of wastewater from oil and gas drilling. –read more

There is also a growing concern that Oklahoma could experience a large, damaging earthquake. Back in the spring, the  U.S. Geological Survey issued an Earthquake Warning for the state. Oklahomans are being urged to prepare for earthquakes and to be sure they have earthquake insurance.

Have you been feeling the earthquakes? Are you worried about a large quake hitting the state? Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page

Map Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Department of the Interior/USGS

Safer Sun Protection

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in 2011 that they are studying if spray-on sunscreens are safe when inhaled by children. A conclusion has not been reached yet.

However, Consumer Reports has come out warning parents against the sunscreens until the FDA reaches a conclusion.

“We now say that until the FDA completes its analysis, the products should generally not be used by or on children,” Consumer Reports says. “We have also removed one sunscreen spray — Ocean Potion Kids Instant Dry Mist SPF 50 — from the group of recommended sunscreens in our sunscreen ratings, because it is marketed especially for children.”

They went on to say adults can safely use the products but not to spray them on their face and to avoid inhaling it. However, they also said they are harder to use properly.

There is also growing evidence that many of the ingredients in conventional sunscreens, spray-on or not, are harmful. One of those ingredients is oxybenzone. Oxybenzone penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. One study has even linked it to endometriosis in older women.

Artificial fragrances, which contain phthalates and other harmful ingredients, are also found in most sunscreens. Along with many other possibly harmful ingredients like parabens, retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), homosalate, and octocrylene.

There are safe sunscreen options out there. Mineral based sunscreens with natural ingredients are your best bet when it comes to sun protection. Here are some of our favorites.

*Note: The following links are affiliate links, click to learn more.*

These are just a few of the options out there. Be sure to look for sunscreens that are free of oxybenzone, parabens, retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), homosalate, octocrylene, and fragrance, use minerals as the active ingredients, and are not spray-on.

Natural sunscreens can be found at most locally owned natural food stores, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, and other stores where natural products are sold. As always we recommend you check locally owned stores first.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Consumption This Summer

While rain has kept temperatures in Oklahoma lower than predicted, it’s still hot and energy consumption is up. The increased energy use is hard on the environment and our budgets. Here are some easy ways to reduce your consumption and save some money this summer.



  1. Make sure your A/C is tuned-up and running as efficiently as possible.
  2. Use a programable thermostat. We all want a cool house but we don’t want to waste energy cooling an empty home. A programable thermostat allows you to have the temperature go up while you are away from the house and go back down when you are home.
  3. Run full loads. When running your dishwasher and washing machine be sure the loads are full to reduce the number of loads you are running. This will also help save a lot of water.
  4. When buying new appliances and electronics look for Energy Star certified products. Energy Star products have to meet standards of efficiency and will help you make sure you are getting an efficient product.
  5. Use power strips. Many electronics use what is called vampire energy, energy consumed while the item is turned off. Plugging items into a power strip and turning the strip off when the items aren’t in use can ensure the items aren’t using energy while not in use. You can also get smart power strips, which turn the items off without the whole strip being turned off.
  6. Plant a Tree. Trees that shade your home can help keep it cooler.
  7. Don’t over dry your clothes. Many newer dryers have sensors that turn the dryer off when the clothes are dry, if your’s has one use it. If your dryer doesn’t have a sensor be sure to check your clothes fairly often. This saves energy and is better for your clothes. Better yet, skip the dryer and line dry your clothes.
  8. Cover your windows. During the day close your curtains or blinds to keep the sun from heating up the room.
  9. Keep your freezer full. A full freezer uses less energy than an empty one. If you don’t have enough food to fill it you can freeze plastic bottles filled with water.
  10. Dust your fridge coils. Dusty coils can be a fire hazard and make the fridge work harder.  Keeping them clean helps your refrigerator run more efficiently and safely.

These are just a few ways you can reduce your energy consumption this summer. Please share your tips in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photo Credits- The original photo is curious of AZAdam/Flickr. The photo has been modified.