The Island School students partnered with Friends of the Farms to create an online field guide about the native birds, insects and plants found in the Bainbridge Island Native Food Forest located near the school. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade contributed illustrations as well as detailed descriptions of the plants and animals that live in the forest.
“When we started creating our field guides, the [2nd and 3rd grade] children each chose a bird native to Bainbridge Island to research. They learned about the habitat, food and nesting materials each of their birds needed. On our weekly walks to the Food Forest, the children became detectives searching for a glimpse of their birds as well as determining whether the Food Forest was an optimal habitat for them,” said teacher Christine Newkirk.
Students have included “Cool Facts” in the field guide, such as these:
- Red-breasted Nuthatches often hop down a tree head first.
- If a Western Tiger Swallowtail’s wing tail gets bit off by a bird, it can still fly.
- Dandelions contain more potassium than bananas.
The Island School began a partnership with Friends of the Farms prior to the pandemic. When school began fully outdoors in the fall of 2020, the timing was perfect to spend time together in the Native Food Forest. The students assisted with removing invasive species such as English ivy, Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberries. They planted native species of Osoberry, cascara, and Evergreen Huckleberry. Friends of the Farms staff shared the history of the land and the plants with the children.
Future plans include ongoing stewardship of the land by The Island School students and developing a curriculum that local schools can use in conjunction with visits to the area.
The field guide and history are available online at https://bifoodforestfieldguide.org/. The Native Food Forest can be accessed at the end of Charles Place NE. Parking is available at the end of the road.