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March 2021

Dear Families,

Happy Spring! Contrary to last March, (during which we were forced to close Rock Tree Sky due to the stay at home orders issued at the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic), the theme of RTS this March was new life and the potential for growth. Plant and mushroom life is thriving, new learners have been enrolled in our program, and goat babies were born.

As we enjoy these next couple of weeks of Spring Break and take some time to unwind and reflect on the year thus far, we can look forward to the excitement of growing more together for the final months of this program year.

In this letter you will find calendar updates for April, photos and reflections from March, a call-in for family volunteers for an exciting new project, and a parent education piece about tattling.

As always, Be Well and Stay Curious!

With love from the RTS Staff

Looking Towards April

Monday March 29-Friday April 9: Rock Tree Sky is Closed for Spring Break

April 22: Earth Day

Reflections on March

As stated above, March was teaming with life here at Rock Tree Sky.

For starters, several goat babies have joined the family at Jim and Natasha's homestead. Thus making the occasional goat visits with kids (pun intended) all the more special. The Roots kids in particular enjoyed cuddling with and holding baby goats throughout the month.

What's more is that one of these occasions was in the wake of a rare weather event. On Thursday afternoon, Upper Ojai experienced a heavy falling of hail. Additionally, the night time temperatures were low enough to make the hail stick, creating a snow like ground cover on Sisar Road on Friday morning. As the children walked along the road to Jim and they also got to see and play with the "snow."

The wet weather in March also lended to perfect conditions for planting. Since we finally got a weeks worth of rain, the earth was moist enough to plant an herb garden in front of the apothecary. So far the plants are thriving and the mosaic stepping stones that RTS learners worked together to make create quite the inviting space for growing and somedays making plant medicine.

For the time being however, an oyster mushroom tent is living in the apothecary. And we are happy to report that the mushrooms are growing well and are totally delicious. During the final week of March our team of mushroom cultivators were even able to harvest enough fruit to sell during the Thursday afternoon RTS Co-Op. Please keep that in mind as there will likely be more opportunities to purchase freshly grown oyster mushrooms in the future.

On the topic of mushroom cultivation I am also excited to announce plans for building a cob structure* specifically to house the growing mushrooms have been approved and will soon be build out on our campus.

(*see more information below)

Plans are also being developed for the painting of a mural on the wall facing our back garden. Miss Kim and Farmer Kelly are encouraging learners to sketch designs based on the plant and animal life the grows in our garden across all four seasons to be represented on the mural.

As we approached the vernal equinox and prepared to welcome in the season of spring, Natasha shared some of her cultural traditions with some of our youngest learners. Natasha's family celebrates the Persian New Year which falls on the vernal equinox. One ritual that Natasha shared with learners is a practice of building a small fire in the ground and then stepping over the flames as a way to release some thing or characteristic that "no longer serves" to the fire, and gain something that will be supportive moving forward. For example, one child said that he wanted to give the fire frustration and revive happiness.

Our youngest learners also enjoyed working together to prepare a traditional New Year soup which was a yummy treat for all who partook.

A Call-In for Volunteers

Omar Uribe of Ohms Collective is working with Ojai Locals, Sage Stoneman and Jonathan Maxson, to build a mushroom cob room for teenage aspiring mycologists at Rock Tree Sky.

This cob structure will be 6 feet tall from the ground to the top of the roof, have one doorway entrance, and will be used to store mushroom buckets for the purpose of growing mushrooms to be sold at the Rock Tree Sky farmer's market stand at the new Mid-Town Farmer's Market, coming to Ojai June 2021.

Construction is set to start on April 5th. Our intention is to host two work parties during the week of April 12th. We are hoping for 10 teen and grownup volunteers each day; but the more the merrier!

We are also still looking for donations of the following materials:

- waterproof lining, costs about $300 used (Could be used bond liner, pool cover, or billboard tarp)

-recently cut down down oak tree limbs, 6 inch diameter on logs

-straw bales, fully dried (4-5ea), costs about $60

Parent Education: Tattling

"The general rule is that if it doesn’t help someone, tattling is not a good solution."

Something I have been noticing lately amongst our younger learners is the tendency to tattle on friends. I've never quite known where this behavior stems from or why it is that for kids in the 5 to 7 year old range "telling on so-and-so" is pretty typical.

Yet for teens, telling a grown-up about a peer partaking in unsafe or inappropriate behavior so often comes with the stigma of being labeled a "snitch".

This can be frustrating for mentors and caregivers on both ends of the spectrum. For our youngest learners, we want children to develop skills to problem solve and resolve minor conflicts on their own. For example, if a friend is not sharing a toy my hope for the children involved would be for them to navigate that experience on their own instead of telling me and expecting me to control the situation with my grownupness. Ideally, one friend would say to the other, "I would like a turn with that toy when you are finished with it," and the other would say, "Okay buddy, sounds like a plan." (Or something to that effect).

These are the types pro-social problem solving skills that we support children in developing at Rock Tree Sky, and can be done at home too through modeling in the moment or role playing different situations.

On the other hand, when a preteen or adolescent is engaging in truly risky behavior, we want a peer to speak up about it. And we don't want other teens shaming the person who made an effort to help by seeking out support from the grownups.

After a recent conversation with a parent discussing the behavior of tattling, the following article was shared as a resource to better understand why kids tattle and how to support them in practicing best methods for problem solving. I appreciated reading this piece because it illuminated for me a key distinction between petty tattle taleing and preventing dangerous behavior. The purpose of telling-on someone is to help that person not to get them in trouble.

Please follow the link to this article for further insight:



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