Celebrating 10 years of Nature Connection! 

Click Photo:  Earthroots’s 39 acre property, Big Oak Canyon was purchased mid-2013 thanks to the generosity of our community.  We look forward to tending this land for generations to come. Photo: Silverado Creek at Big Oak Canyon

Mission:
Earthroots is a non-profit 501(c)3 education  organization dedicated to  cultivating a sense of care and connection between people and the natural world.

Earthroots inspires life-long dedication to environmental stewardship & community through deep nature connection mentoring.

In our creative learning environments, Earthroots participants gain a better understanding of how all of life is connected.  They experience how our actions influence the world around us. With this understanding, we hope that individuals then make choices in their daily lives to improve the health of the earth, themselves and each other.

Programs:
We offer classes, workshops & lectures year round for toddlers, homeschoolers, teens, adults, private and public schools, scout groups and summer camps. Outdoor classrooms include local organic farms, gardens, wilderness parks, green kitchens, beaches, and creeks. These programs are an exploration of our natural world and extends into our connection with all things. Orange County programs meet at new locations each week, ranging from San Clemente to Huntington Beach and east into the Santa Ana Mountains. Each year, we also travel out of our region for family camping trips & adventures.

We build trust and confidence through adventurous challenges and by enjoying the peaceful abundance of the natural world. Some of our favorite seasonal projects include starting, growing and eating from our garden; harvesting acorns, practicing survival skills; weaving with natural fibers; identifying marine tidepool creatures; identifying and eating edible plants in our local wilderness areas; following and identifying animal tracks; understanding bird language; building with natural materials, creating a journal documenting our discoveries; and finding places to be quiet in nature.

We adapt our classes to the interests of our students and allow the spontaneity of the day to guide us. Small groups allow for deeper and more powerful experiences in nature. For the children’s classes, parents are welcome to participate or to drop off. In most situations, younger siblings may accompany parents during class.

Earthroots is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. We welcome your referrals on grants that support getting more kids outdoors, smiling and muddy from head to toe!

Earthroots
P.O. Box 504
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678

admin@earthrootsfieldschool.org
(949) 709-5777


…. Earthroots is making a big difference in our lives. Brian is responding so well to the experiential learning. He loves being outdoors and enjoys all the hands on activities. I have watched him bring home rocks from Earthroots and sort them by color, add, subtract and divide them. It is amazing. Just one day a week at Earthroots has allowed him to “connect the dots” on all his other learning experiences. Keep up the good work.

-Todd S, January 2009

 

Jon Young for Earthroots from Rev. Sandy Moore on Vimeo.

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2016 Year End Appeal Letter

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
 John Muir, Naturalist

Make an online donation here.

Dear friend of Earthroots,

Kids and families have an even greater need in current times — a connection with nature that yields a place of healing, a generous gift of strength to body and soul. As many of us know from first-hand experience, our lives are indeed filled when spending time in nature. “A good dose of Vitamin N,” says a friend of her children’s greatest need each day. I couldn’t agree more.

HomeschoolFieldSchool-21As I look back on the past year of nature connections and changes at Earthroots, I am filled with gratitude. Your generosity has brought a year of positive growth in 2016! At summer’s end, your contributions hosted 109 days of programming and served 707 people – overall you delivered 10,803 hours in nature! What a gift to these children and adults, investing their lives. Field Trips to Big Oak Canyon, Forest Kindergarten, Homeschool Field Classes, and Eco-Literacy programs are all going strong.  I’m excited to report that our Toddlers in the Garden class has been revived this fall, where children ages 1-3 years are planting seeds, eating what they grow each week, and enjoying meaningful experiences in nature.

But…. We have work to do! The need today is great. Even after overcoming the hurdles of getting outside, children in natural settings around Orange County unknowingly come into contact with toxic chemicals, parents may be unsure how to guide their children in families don’t always know where to go for authentic experiences.

The Forest Kindergarten program experienced one of our biggest changes over the last year. We learned with concern that, in accordance with OC Parks policies, the parks where our children were playing and exploring during class had been regularly sprayed with herbicide Round Up. Working with park rangers, we moved from from one area of the park to another, with an agreement that they would reduce spraying the area where our children play. In partnership and gratitude, we agreed to assist with weed abatement. Kids and parents donned gloves and pulled weeds to help the cause.

Your help is needed for a long-term solution to overcome these kinds of challenges, and to ensure that your children can enjoy experiences in nature without the threat of toxic exposure, while families gain skills to be comfortable outdoors. Together, we can lift the lives of kids and families with the vitality of deep nature connection.

The collaboration between OC Parks and Earthroots brought temporary relief. For the ideal long-term solution to supporting our children and future groups of kids who will participate in Forest Kindergarten, I turn my thoughts to Earthroots’ beautiful, 39-acre property in the Santa Ana Mountains, Big Oak Canyon.

Our community has an opportunity here to create a turning point away from common and careless destructive environmental practices, and inspire youth with positive, beautiful, regenerative living practices and education. These experiences will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Big Oak Canyon is a dedicated place to inspire us all, especially the youth, in ways of living in balance with the earth. It is free from herbicide spraying guidelines, and overflows with opportunity for nature exploration and conservation. There are meaningful projects to grow and tend local gardens and orchards, create water conservation systems, and explore creeks that are CLEAN! The free flowing water is teeming with frogs, mud and invitations for barefoot creek stomping.

Your support will foster a 200-year vision for Big Oak Canyon, creating a world where everyone has access and deepening connections with nature. With your help, Big Oak will become financially secure and carefully developed; a place where students, visitors, staff and resident caretakers will have incredible opportunities to further our community’s relationship with nature.

Much of the land in Orange County is purchased for development contrary to ecological best-practices. Studies prove that direct experience in nature is a vital human need, even while time spent outdoors is diminishing at a shocking pace. Approximately 85% of land in Orange County is developed, a stark reality that compelled Earthroots to partner with you to purchase Big Oak Canyon in 2012.  We are protecting this valuable resource for future generations. Though Orange County was originally named for the vast acres of orange groves, most are now obsolete.

At Big Oak Canyon, we are reviving native habitats; we plan to grow food in our organic farm and orchard, and be a model for non-toxic building practices. Orchards will serve the community as an educational working farm, and wilderness areas will model land stewardship and ecological restoration. Hands-on classes, camps and workshops will be held year-round. Natural and sustainable living practices will be utilized, and taught so that all who come will see and experience first-hand living in balance with nature.

When the prospect of purchasing Big Oak Canyon came about, it was with equal parts business savvy and serendipity that we decided to move forward with the purchase. We knew that the road might be difficult — we had never raised this significant sum of money before. But we also knew that we had built a community in Orange County that depends on us to keep nature connections a prominent part of schooling options. And we knew that it would be this very community and beyond that we would need to lean on to help secure the land.

We come to you, as a member of the Earthroots Community, to ask you to consider a gift to secure this special place — make this vision a reality. This is our final push to complete the purchase of Big Oak Canyon. Together, we have raised $95,000 of the necessary $160,000, and need to raise the remaining $65,000. We invite you to be a part of the transformation of this land into a place that will “heal and give strength to body and soul”.

On behalf of the kids and families, I thank you for your thoughtful consideration of a generous gift to Earthroots this year. Make an online donation here.

In gratitude,

Jodi Levine-Wright
Founding Director
Earthroots Field School

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2016 Mid Year Review

Thank you for being a part of Earthroots Field School! 2016 has been full of transformative classes, workshops, and camps for people of all ages. In this Mid-Year Report, we are excited to share a glimpse of those programs with you. We will also give you a look into what we have planned for the rest of 2016 and into 2017. Come, take a walk with us through the first half of adventures this year.

2016 Mid-Year Report

Mission
and Vision13244005_10153709560307075_3881008722563569217_o
Earthroots is a non-profit 501(c)3 education organization dedicated to cultivating a sense of care and connection between people and the natural world.

Earthroots vision is to create a world where people of all ages, abilities, cultures and affiliations understand how our actions influence the world around us and with this understanding are inspired to make choices that improve the health of the earth, themselves, and each other.

Forest Kindergarten students exploring local wilderness. Photo by Carol Ann Soltz


Overview: January – July 2016

Since its founding in 2005, Earthroots has grown both programmatically and structurally to enable the organization to serve an ever broadening range of local residents including school children, families, universities, and businesses. This growth and organizational stability has further allowed Earthroots to purchase and conserve a beautiful 39-acre property in Orange County, known as Big Oak Canyon.

In the first half of this year, program participants have logged a total of over 12,000 hours in nature. The Children and Nature Network talks about the “nature deficit” crisis that many children experience today; Earthroots provides opportunities to increase time spent in nature and reduce or eliminate this deficit. Participants include local residents of Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Santa Ana and other local cities. Additionally, participants travel from Riverside, San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties.

 
January through July 2016
Days of programming
109 days
Individuals served
707 people
Ages of participants
0-79 years old
Hours of participation in field trips to wilderness parks, beaches, organic farms & gardens
10,803 hours in nature
Hours of participation in on-campus, outdoor field trips
1,406 student hours in nature, on campus

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Eco-Literacy on Campus
is a weekly program for grades 2-8 held at a local elementary school. Now in its 7th year, the school has become a true demonstration site for sustainable living practices. Teachers, students, volunteers and administrators actively engage in growing fruit and vegetables, harvesting rainwater, composting lunch waste, recycling, minimizing single use containers and restoring native habitat. Earthroots instructors teach our unique grade appropriate Eco-Literacy curriculum to 75-100 students each week during the school year.

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Fourth grade students learning the medicinal values of native plants as part of their Eco-Literacy studies. Photo by Kathleen Cobb.

Forest Kindergarten and Homeschool Field Programs participants meet for 5 hours one day a week exploring wilderness parks, organic gardens and beaches. Each student has spent up to 80 hours of outdoor program time so far this year, mentored by Earthroots instructors. These children, ages 3 -12, often along with their parents, gain confidence in nature, physical strength, camaraderie with their peers and build a true community of families connected with nature. 38 children and 20 parents were served.

Service Learning Projects
at Big Oak canyon have expanded to now include youth groups. Over 120 school-aged children, parents and teachers, and 50 corporate volunteers experienced ecological restoration through hands-on service work at Big Oak Canyon during the first half of this year. Projects have included harvesting buckwheat, matilija poppy and white sage for our seed bank which will be used for habitat restoration, removing non-native grasses, vines and trees, spreading mulch, tending to the spring and planting seed balls. The transformations are incredible, thank you for your efforts!

Summer Camps now include programs stretching from the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains to the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Primitive Fishing Camp gave new skills and ocean awareness to 10 students ages 6-14. Participants learned to make fishing nets from locally harvested plants, to clean fish and cook over a camp fire. Surfing and Nature Skills Family Campout gave 20 participants, ages 2-75 an opportunity to build community, build confidence with outdoor living and learn a new adventure sport while bringing awareness to our connection with the health of the sea.

High Sierra Expedition Trip is our newest adventure program, serving graduates of our Family Backpacking Training and those with previous backpacking experience. Three families adventured to the John Muir Wilderness this summer for a 5-day backpacking trip, led by Earthroots instructors.

Instructor Training is one of the little known specialties of Earthroots. Each year, we facilitate deep nature connection practices for adults who become leaders both in our children’s programs and in the broader community. Training is guided through weekly mentorship by seasoned staff and involves inner personal development, group management and outdoor skills education. In the first half of this year, Earthroots trained 2 new instructors and 8 new volunteers.

Earthroots Annual Festival & Fundraiser was celebrated at Big Oak Canyon for the first time! This year we were honored to have guests presenters and musicians including Jacque Nunez, Dryad, Birdsong and the Eco-Wonders, among others. Games, crafts, nature hikes and a kids music circle added to the fun, while guests enjoyed organic eats, beverages and desserts. 100 guests enjoyed the day at Big Oak Canyon at this 10th annual event.

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T
oddlers & parents growing food & exploring life in the garden.

GOALS FOR 2016-2017
As we look forward to the remainder of 2016 and into 2017, we are excited share that this season marks Earthroots 12th year, and it is the most robust offerings we have had to date. Most of our classes are full with wait lists, and we are so grateful to have a solid staff to lean on during this time of growth.

Earthroots is proud to announce the revival of one of our all time favorite classes this Fall, Toddlers in the Garden. Children ages 1-3, along with their parents, will grow delicious organic vegetables from seed, learn to develop healthy soil and compost, and make nutritious snacks with the living food that is harvested. Children will experience a rich outdoors experience every week now, while their brains and bodies are developing.
With the help of volunteers and staff, we have completed the habitat restoration project funded by the Earth Island Institute, which began in 2013. This project brought together hundreds of volunteers to transform a once degraded area of Big Oak Canyon into a vibrant native ecosystem. This Fall, we welcome you to experience this beautiful transformation by joining in on the restoration process at an upcoming volunteer day. Activities will include watershed restoration, saving native plant seeds, making seed balls and planting native shrubs along the newly installed stone creek bed.

We know from personal experience, as well as from case studies on the subject, that time in nature supports social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical development, creativity and problem solving skills, enhances concentration and lessens Attention Deficit Disorder behaviors. In addition to our regular programs, we look forward to expanding offerings at Big Oak Canyon as the year progresses.

 

Thank you for being a part of Earthroots!

Jodi Levine-Wright, Executive Director

 

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Bring the Future Into Balance

End of year blog by Jodi Levine-Wright

“Every one of us understands that our personal health is directly connected to the health of our planet, the health of our ecosystems and the health of our organizations and communities….Feel yourselves be a part of something that’s transformative.”

~John D. Spengler

This OC Register article was written by a participant in a recent Bird Language course held at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots 39 acre property.  Since the article came out last month, I’ve hear from people who are shocked that you can get this kind of deep nature connection experience in Orange County… programs like this are a far cry from the mainstream reputation of our OC.

Forest Kindergarten-Thurs-Web-19I smile inward thinking about that because we have been doing this work for 10 years unnoticed by many, yet those who we have mentored are forever transformed. Earthroots is not big and flashy, we are slow and steady. We are deeply connected to a path of building authentic relationships to the earth and the natural systems that support healthy individuals and communities.

It is because of you, and others in the Earthroots community that we exist here at all. The  transformational life experiences for our scholarship recipients, the 39 acres of wilderness now protected through the purchase of Big Oak Canyon are still intact and more school children attend nature connection field trips because of you. Thank you for your years of support.

It is this time of year that we ask that you continue to give what you can to support the slow and steady ripples that Earthroots creates in Orange County. We are working to #BringTheFutureIntoBalance.

IMG_4807What are the benefits to Earthroots participants?  Read a blog by Kristin, who comes to class every week with her two kids, to hear what she has to say. As the founder of Earthroots, having worked with hundreds of students over the years, I see a whole generation transforming. It’s a big claim to say that I see people taking responsibility for their actions with regard to caring for themselves, the earth and each other, and I see it year after year. People are inspired to make the world a better place once they understand how “what they do” affects the world around them. Earthroots mentors start at the foundation and help participants build relationships of connection that naturally shift how we each live in the world.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Please visit our new donate page and contribute today.

IMG_4958In this short video, you can see what we do and hear the kind of impact Earthroots has on today’s participants and future generations. We aim to raise $85,000 to complete the purchase of Big Oak Canyon, continue offering scholarships and expand our programs to give more students in OC life-changing experiences in nature.

You can help facilitate beautiful change here by supporting Earthroots. Please contribute to our end of year fundraising campaign: www.earthrootsfieldschool.org
Thank you!

 

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2015 Year End Appeal Letter

Dear friend of Earthroots,

Take a moment to think back on a time when you were sitting around the campfire. Perhaps you were telling stories and laughing with friends. You could see their faces by the glow of the fire and felt a connection with them and the natural world around you. Now imagine looking up and not seeing a single face because everyone is huddled over their phones or iPads.

This is todays reality.

“I often see kids at their evening campfire staring down at handheld devices, the glow of the screen brighter than the glow of the fire. They are cut off from each other and nature. It’s like their energetic switch was turned off, disconnecting them from each other and the beauty surrounding them. As someone who loves kids and nature, it breaks my heart.”

Would you be alarmed at the distance and disengagement replacing the warmth and easy camaraderie you’ve become accustomed to over the years? I felt saddened when I heard this story from a friend of Earthroots. However, my sadness turned to joy as she continued:

IMG_3363“But on the other hand, I also get to observe the Earthroots kids in their weekly classes with switches on. They explore this park fully alive, taking everything in with joy and wonder. It gives me hope for the future.

Your gift to Earthroots Field School gives kids a chance to wake up and experience the beauty of living a life connected to themselves, each other and the natural world.

Earthroots’ kids are awake to the wonders of life and engage
 with the beauty of nature. They interact with their peers and
 community with eyes wide open. They walk on rocks in the creekbed, which improves their balance and coordination. They let their imagination and creativity run wild playing under the oak trees, and tend a garden which connects them to the earth and their own personal wellbeing.

Gentle mentoring during nature outings encourages an authentic understanding of the interconnectedness of our world. Time with us means kids simply “get it” when it comes to realizing how their actions impact their environment and everyone in it — which naturally leads to a lifetime of making good choices for today and future generations. The ripples are endless.

Erica, a third grader who attended a no cost school field trip at Earthroots Big Oak Canyon property, came away inspired by our 200-year plan. It was a new concept for her that certainly left an impression. She now knows what caring for the earth into the future can be.

IMG_5356“I liked the idea about the seven generations thing. Normally people don’t think about that kind of thing, so I thought it was really 
cool Miss Jodi thought about it.”

Earthroots concepts, while not new, are also not the prevailing concepts in a fast-paced media driven world that todays’ children know. Please make a year-end gift so that more children can experience the benefits of nature mentoring with Earthroots. It is with your contribution that we engage and inspire more people to care for the earth and live connected. Your contribution gives hope for the future.

Your gift makes a difference. Please make a donation now to provide more scholarships, fund the preservation of 39-acre Big Oak Canyon and get more children outdoors to experience a classroom without walls. #BringTheFutureIntoBalance

With gratitude,

Jodi Levine-Wright
Founding Director

PS. Watch our new video to learn more!

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Pine Needle Tea Party!

We recently we had our first, of hopefully many, tea parties in Forest Kindergarten class. It was the idea of one of our Instructors, Stacey Anderson, who this summer attended a Forest School training where she was inspired to bring back what she learned. Another teacher at the training hosts tea parties throughout the year, culminating in a graduation celebration where the class dresses up and goes out to enjoy a meal at a local restaurant. Imagine that, a room full of 3-6 year olds out to eat. Thankfully they have practiced their manners at Forest Kindergarten.

pineneedletea3

Tea parties are an opportunity for children to cultivate calmness and respectful manners while gathered around a table.  It can form a bridge between Forest Kindergarten class and activities we do in everyday life.  At our first tea party we had the children practice sitting with their bottoms on the picnic benches, backs straight, elbows off the table, and hands folded in their laps – requests that are not easy for a group of excited 3-6 year olds!  In Monday’s class, Stacey, modeled being a good host, while I modeled being a pleasant guest.  We practiced our ‘please’s, ‘thank you’s, and asked to be ‘excused’ when done.  We also made our first attempts at being calm and quiet around the table.  In our Tuesday class, Director, Jodi Levine-Wright, gave instructions in her most proper British accent, mimicking her dear Aunt Rose. When Jodi was a child, her Aunt Rose was aghast when she and her brothers strayed from their manners at the table.  We continued on for the rest of the party speaking in accents, which added an unexpected element of fun!

12 2 webChildren are included in the preparation of the tea.

How we made Pine Needle Tea:
1. Instructors harvested fresh pine needles to bring to class (harvest where you have permission, away from polluted areas and avoid potentially harmful species*).
2. Early in our day we had the children help remove the brown papery sheaths on the bottoms of the needle clusters, and pinch the needles in halves. Getting kids involved in as many steps as possible brings more depth to the experience.12112245_10153251610262075_3122652767215588818_n (1)
3. Children took turns adding their pine needles to a big jar of water, which we left in the sun. We discussed what the sun was doing to the pine needles, the benefits of drinking pine needle tea, and that it is a local, wild food that has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years. Later that day during our exploration time, we kept an eye out for pine trees and were excited to notice so many!
6. When it was time to serve the tea, we added a touch of honey and poured the strained tea into each cup… so long as each child was showing good manners : )

The children did beautifully and the pine needle tea was a hit.  We are excited to learn about and use other local, wild plants that grow in our area including rose hips, horehound, and nettle as the seasons progress.  As the weather gets cooler we may also make pine needle tea again, but this time mixed with a little hot cocoa!  As the children learn to display excellent manners and calmness at the tea parties, our hope is to allow them to eventually take turns being the host!  We had a fun time together at our first intentional gathering around the table.  We look forward to seeing how the children grow as we continue to have more tea parties throughout the year.  You can find out more about pine needle tea here* including which species of pine needles are safe to use and what the health benefits are. Enjoy!

Nikki Hieb
Forest Kindergarten Instructor
Earthroots Field School

12079623_10153251660277075_8708678032132665202_n (1)

Thank you Karen Graham and Claudia Boden for sewing our table cloths, and Michelle Watts for donating the cups, bowls and spoons that we use every week. Our classes are held by many loving hands.

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Cooking with Acorns

Coast Live Oak AcornsMy favorite trails are littered with acorns from the recent big winds. This incredibly nutritious food has been feeding native people of our region for thousands of years, and is used today by a wide spectrum of cultures.  After reading this blog, I hope that you will feel inspired to cook up a recipe with this local wild edible, take a walk in your local parks and spend time taking in the beauty of nature… and perhaps join me to gather acorns at Big Oak Canyon.

Leaching out the Tannic Acid
An adult friend told me that she remembers hearing as a child that acorns were edible, so she cracked one open, popped it in her mouth and to this day remembers the awfully bitter taste before spitting it out. Our local Coast Live Oak acorns contain high levels of tannic acid that need to be washed out before consuming or they can make you feel sick.

One of my mentors, Jon Young tells a story of how he learned from his elders to leach the tannic acid out of acorns. First, crack the hard shells with a stone, save the inner acorn meat, and toss the hard shells. Put the acorn meat into a basket woven tight enough that the acorns would not fall through the holes, and loose enough that the water could flow through easily. He then set the basket in the creek where the current flowed strong enough that it would wash the acorns, and gentle enough that once secured with stones, the basket would not be swept away. The basket of acorns was left in the creek overnight. The acorn pieces were checked in the morning, and if still tasted bitter, were set in the creek to be washed again. They were finished leaching when the nuts did not taste bitter.

Ground acornsIn our classes, we use the same concept, but with a modern twist. Students remove the hard shells by first cracking them with a stone and separating out the inner acorn meat. They take out any acorn weevils (which are edible!), dark or moldy inner acorn meat and toss that aside, leaving only the lighter fresh smelling acorn meat for consumption. The acorns are then ground with a mortar and pestle until only small pieces remain. Keep in mind, the smaller the pieces, the faster the leaching process. Grinding acorns this way takes a lot of effort, and is great for group activities.

When I’m leaching acorns at home, I fill a blender half way with water, put the de-shelled acorns in the water and blend on high until the pieces are broken up. Some may call this cheating, but hey, it gets my family and I eating acorns! I then leach and strain as described below.

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To wash out the tannic acid, we use a kitchen strainer with a cloth laid on top of it to hold the acorn pieces. We then rinse them under flowing tap water while stirring the acorn meal with our hands to make sure all pieces get washed. Another method is to put the acorn meal inside a nut milk bag instead of using the strainer/cloth. The nut milk bag works best for younger kids so that they don’t spill out any hard earned acorn pieces while rinsing. Try both, see what works best for you!

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You will notice that the first wash leaves the water looking milky. This is good! Repeat washing until the water comes out clear and the nut pieces do not taste bitter. This step could take up to 30 minutes or more of constant rinsing, stirring and squeezing. Don’t give up!

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Once leached, the sky is the limit on how you use these delicious nuts. Jacque Nuñez, a local Acjachemen educator teaches about Wi-wish. Wi-wish is a traditional dish of ground acorns, similar to porridge. I look forward to one day cooking it the old way, in a tightly woven basket filled with water and boiled with fire-heated stones.

Here’s what our classes are cooking:
Earthroots Acorn Pancakes
1 cup acorn meal or acorn flour
1 cup of your favorite flour (corn, amaranth, wheat, garbanzo bean, rice etc)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (vegan option: ½ tsp flax meal + 2 tbsp water)
¼ cup coconut oil or ghee
½ cup honey
2 cups water or any milk

1. Mix dry ingredients first.
2. Add wet ingredients and mix together thoroughly  (Note: the secret to keeping pancake batter from getting lumpy is to be sure to add all the wet ingredients first, mix thoroughly, then add dry ingredients)
3.  Adjust consistency by adding a little more water/milk or a little more flour if it’s too thick or thin.  Pancake batter should be thin enough to pour, but not runny.
4.  Cook on oiled grill.
5.  Top with Maple Syrup or prickly pear jam

Benefits of Acorns
1. They store well – you can keep them all year long. Adding acorns to your diet makes “eating local” more successful since you will have a good storage of nuts to supplement the seasonal ebb and flow of your garden harvest.
2. Acorns are full of vitamins and minerals.
3. They are a great source of protein and complex carbohydrates.
4. They are 100% local.

Harvesting Acorns
– As with all wild harvested plants, make sure you are harvesting out of harms way from pollution, run off and places where pesticides or other toxins are used.
– Select acorns with intact shells, no holes and no mold. Holes are distinct signs that an acorn weevil has taken residency. If you find acorns with holes, crack one open and see what’s inside.
– Remember to harvest in appropriately designated areas (OC Parks and CA State parks while great places to explore nature are off limits to gathering of any kind) and only take what you need. Leave the rest for the animals who depend on acorns as their food source.

Get to know acorn this season by joining us at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots 39 acre property in Silverado Canyon where we teach ethical wild harvesting along with sustainable living and nature connection skills. Kids young and old will be harvesting acorns along with many other activities November 7, 2015. We hope you will join us.

Happy Harvesting!
Jodi Levine-Wright

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2015 Mid-Year Report

Thank you for being a part of Earthroots Field School! 2015 has been full of transformative classes, workshops, and camps for people of all ages. In this 2015 Mid-Year Report, we are excited to share a glimpse of those programs with you. We will also give you a look into what we have planned for the rest of 2015 and into 2016. Come, take a walk with us through the first half of adventure this year

2015 Mid-Year Report

MISSION AND VISION
Earthroots is a non-profit 501(c)3 education organization dedicated to cultivating a sense of care and connection between people and the natural world.

Earthroots vision is to create a world where people of all ages, abilities, cultures and affiliations understand how our actions influence the world around us and with this understanding are inspired to make choices that improve the health of the earth, themselves, and each other.

PrimitiveSkills-Web-25Bringing ancient skills to life by lashing split feathers onto a hand-made arrow. Photo by Lindsay Kliewer

OVERVIEW: JANUARY – JULY 2015
Since its founding in 2005, Earthroots has grown both programmatically and structurally to enable the organization to serve an ever broadening range of local residents including school children, families, universities, and businesses. This growth and organizational stability has further allowed Earthroots to purchase and conserve a beautiful 39-acre property in Orange County, known as Big Oak Canyon.

In the first half of this year, program participants have logged a total of over 9,700 hours in nature.  The Children and Nature Network talks about the “nature deficit” crisis that many children experience today; Earthroots provides opportunities to increase time spent in nature and reduce or eliminate this deficit. Participants include local residents of Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Santa Ana and other local cities. Additionally, participants travel from Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, and Santa Clara counties.

January through July 2015
Days of programming: 130 days
Individuals served: 685 people
Ages of participants: 0-86 years old
Hours of participation in field trips to wilderness parks, beaches, organic farms & gardens: 8670 hours in nature
Hours of participation in on-campus, outdoor field trips: 1144 hours in nature, on campus

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Eco-Literacy on Campus is a weekly program for grades 2-8 held at a local elementary school. Now in its 5th year, the school has become a true demonstration site for sustainable living practices. Teachers, students, volunteers and administrators actively engage in growing fruit and vegetables, harvesting rainwater, composting lunch waste, recycling, minimizing single use containers and restoring native habitat. Earthroots instructors teach our unique grade appropriate Eco-Literacy curriculum to 75-100 students each week during the school year.

Forest Kindergarten and Homeschool Field Programs participants meet for 5 hours one day a week exploring wilderness parks, organic gardens and beaches. Each student has spent up to 80 hours of outdoor program time so far this year, mentored by Earthroots instructors. These children, ages 3 -12, often along with their parents, gain confidence in nature, physical strength, camaraderie with their peers and build a true community of families connected with nature. 38 children and 20 parents were served.

Service Learning Projects at Big Oak Canyon have expanded to now include youth groups. Over 120 school-aged children, parents and teachers, and 50 corporate volunteers experienced ecological restoration through hands-on service work at Big Oak Canyon during the first half of this year. Projects have included harvesting white sage seeds for our seed bank which will later be used for habitat restoration, removing non-native grasses, vines and trees, spreading mulch, building a shade structure and installing a hand washing sink. The transformations are incredible, thank you for your efforts!

IMG_3352First grade students from the Journey School are exploring Earthroots’ 39-acre property, Big Oak Canyon. Highlights of this field trip included participating in ecological restoration by making and tossing seed balls, learning about Earthroots 200-year plan to conserve onsite resources for 7 generations and hiking up the hills.
Photo by Jodi Levine-Wright

Summer Camps now include programs stretching from the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains to the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Cooking in Nature Camps brought nutrition to the forefront for 25 students ages 3-14. Participants learned to prepare new meals using local, organic ingredients while cooking in a sun oven, camping stove and over a camp fire. Surfing and Nature Skills Camps gave 20 students ages 8-15 confidence in the ocean learning a new adventure sport while bringing awareness to our connection with the health of the sea.

High Sierra Expedition Trip is our newest adventure program, serving graduates of our Family Backpacking Training and those with previous backpacking experience. Three families adventured to the John Muir Wilderness this summer for a 5-day backpacking trip, led by Earthroots instructors.

Instructor Training is one of the little known specialties of Earthroots. Each year, we facilitate deep nature connection practices for adults who become leaders both in our children’s programs and in the broader community. Training is guided through weekly mentorship by seasoned staff and involves inner personal development, group management and outdoor skills education. In the first half of this year, Earthroots trained 2 instructors.

Gratitude Day was the first event of its kind held at Big Oak Canyon, honoring Earthroots’ growing community of donors. Attendees toured the property to see the land and hear the vision for what is to come. Special guest and ecological designer, Art Ludwig, presented how Earthroots’ design and stewardship of Big Oak Canyon is impacting the region beyond the visible “education programs”, pushing the edges of what it means to be truly sustainable in our time, from food to buildings, water and waste. There were 40 attendees at this year’s Gratitude Day. We hope to see you there next year!

BOC_GratitudeDay_RestorationSiteRestoration Manager, Daniel Francis describes the newly installed rock creek bed at Big Oak Canyon to Gratitude Day attendees. Photo by Rebecca Primm

GOALS FOR 2015-2016
As we look forward to the remainder of 2015 and into 2016, we are excited to host the first of many public workshops at Big Oak Canyon. Mark your calendars, as we have a full-day event on November 7, 2015 entitled: Wilderness Awareness Workshops. This event will bring together experts on ecology and ancestral survival arts to teach hands-on workshops with participants of all ages.

With the help of volunteers and staff, we aim to complete the habitat restoration project funded by the Earth Island Institute, which began in 2013. This project has brought together hundreds of volunteers to transform a once degraded area of Big Oak Canyon into a vibrant native ecosystem. This Fall, we welcome you to experience this beautiful transformation by joining in on the efforts November 5, 2015. Activities will include watershed restoration, saving native plant seeds, making seed balls and planting native shrubs along the newly installed stone creek bed.

We know from personal experience, as well as from case studies on the subject, that time in nature supports social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical development, creativity and problem solving skills, enhances concentration and lessens Attention Deficit Disorder behaviors. In addition to our regular programs, we look forward to launching a new program at Big Oak Canyon in 2016 for 15 underserved youth to include multiple field trips focusing on ecological awareness, empowerment and ancestral survival arts.

IMG_9982Forest Kindergarten instructor and students still themselves to enjoy a family of deer moving through their outdoor classroom. Photo by Sarah Beck

Thank you for being a part of Earthroots!

Jodi Levine-Wright, Executive Director

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Beck Family Backcountry Adventure

Written by Sarah Beck, mom, guest blogger & long time Earthroots participant.

When my husband suggested a backpacking trip with our two and four year old kids this summer I was hesitant. I love camping and being outside with my family; but car camping is an endeavor to say the least. The amount of work, gear, and planning it takes to simply get out the door can be incredibly overwhelming. And now my husband was proposing that we pack both kids and all of our gear up a mountain for an overnighter? I honestly wondered if it was possible.

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Beck Family geared up for the big hike. Photo by Erin Lutrick 

Layla, our four year old daughter is moving into her second year of the Forest Kindergarten program through Earthroots Field School. We LOVE it. Oddly enough, even though my husband is an outdoor enthusiast, he has questioned my choice to enroll our kids in Forest Kindergarten. “It is too expensive” and “It takes too much time” are some of his basic arguments for why we should maybe not do it. I agree. It does cost money and it is almost a full days commitment. And much like his proposed backpacking trip, Forest Kindergarten requires forethought, gear and planning. The thing is, I wouldn’t provide my kids with 5-6 hours of weekly consecutive outdoor time if it were not for Earthroots. I wouldn’t teach them about our local ecology or how to take the time to really enjoy being out in the wild on a regular basis. If not for Forest Kindergarten, connection to wilderness would be something my kids would see a few times a year versus once a week. There is huge value in this.
So, there we were, my husband hesitant about Earthroots and me hesitant about backpacking. Jodi’s blog post about backpacking came at the perfect time. I was incredibly nervous about packing our kids up a mountain and there it was, 5 Tips to Backpacking with Children.

I read it to my husband after our kids went to sleep one evening.  It created a platform for discussing how best to plan our adventure.

Tip one: Keep the mileage short. We both took this to heart. We determined that I would likely be carrying my 2-year-old son on my back, my husband would carry the majority of our gear and our 4-year-old daughter would hike on her own. We both wondered if she could really do it. We decided that 2 miles should be our maximum hiking distance.

Tip two: Allow plenty of time for exploring in the woods. This was amazing advice. We live in such a busy world where we are constantly rushing and ushering our children to the next event or errand. Kids like to take their time to observe and wonder about the world and it is so rare that we allow them the opportunity to go at their pace. We agreed that in order for the trip to be a success for our kids that we had to allow them to take the lead.

Snack time on the trail! Photo Jesse Beck

Tip three: Bring food that is varied, nutrient-dense, and fun.  My husband and I really struggled with this one. What food should we bring? What would we make for dinner? What kind of snacks would be best? So this tip was incredibly helpful for us as we packed and picked foods for the kids. While we did pack nutrient-dense snacks we also packed a few surprise treats that we don’t normally eat as a fun surprise to keep the kids motivated. This worked great!

Tip five: Positivity is key. This was easy advice to follow. We were away from our regular life, outside in the mountains, and away from the stress of our normal life. We worked really hard to encourage our daughter so that she felt confident about her ability to hike 2 miles up a mountain.

So we packed our things, headed up to the Eastern Sierras, met up with our friends who have a 20 month old and an almost 6 year old and started hiking up the mountain.  I think perhaps a 6th tip would be to: Be prepared for the unexpected.  There are some major fires happening in the Western Sierras right now and air quality was incredibly smoky.  We had to choose a new location further south for our hike to avoid the smoke.

11951944_10205955285655906_4621070751974330540_nSarah’s 4 year old crossing her first creek by herself. Photo Sarah & Jesse Beck

The minute we hit the trail it was evident how much Earthroots has impacted our kids, particularly four year old Layla. My husband noticed and immediately commented on how natural our daughter appeared on the trail. She was tuned in to the plants and talked about them; she looked for scat from animals and informed us. She asked questions about what animals lived in the area. She noted the creek and trail and discussed our destination. The trail was about 2 miles long, rocky, and steep. We heeded Jodi’s advice and stopped a lot. We followed the lead of the children allowing them to determine the pace. Our daughter insisted that she carry her own backpack with her own water and snacks. It took just over four hours to make it to our destination, but the destination was a huge reward. We found a beautiful campsite next to a lake, caught fish for breakfast and dinner, built a fire, used the outdoors as our bathroom, enjoyed “camp food”, and experienced the richness of the wilderness through our children’s eyes. We enjoyed a morning adventure where we explored the lake and the area around it and did more fishing. (The fishing and cooking of the fish was Layla’s favorite part of the adventure). Our hike home was downhill and steep, the kids led the pace and rocked! My husband mentioned many times during the trip that he now saw the value of Earthroots and the lessons that Forest Kindergarten conveys. Our children’s natural understanding and comfort outdoors is directly influenced by Earthroots.

11949420_10205955295056141_6984540389028449791_nFresh fish with Jesse & the kids. Photo by Sarah Beck

I think we underestimate the ability of children and as parents often opt out of experiences simply because the idea of doing things out of the ordinary with children can be overwhelming. While I was initially hesitant, our first backpacking experience was an amazing. Through our experience my husband and I both learned lessons and changed perspectives. I opened up to the idea of overnight backpacking as a family and my husband saw first hand the value and impact of the Earthroots experience.

Earthroots is offering a Family Backpacking Training series that begins in September. Check out the program and experience the awesome combination of family backpacking and Earthroots Field School!

Maybe we’ll see you there, we intend to do a lot more backpacking in the future!!

-The Becks

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5 Tips to Backpacking with Children

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Earthroots founding director Jodi Levine-Wright with her daughter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

A lot has happened since my last blog update… Earthroots purchased 39-acre Big Oak Canyon, I had a baby, our program offerings have expanded and our staff has grown.

Having now graduated two years of
participants in Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series, it is a proven success.  Yes, we are taking kids of all ages (with their parents) into the wild to experience being fully plugged into nature! The outcomes are incredible.

Just returning home from my first backcountry trip with my family (including my one year old daughter) I can tell you that it was one of the most challenging things we have done together, and also one of the most rewarding. I give a huge thumbs up to everyone who takes their kids backpacking, it is a big undertaking.

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Gone fishing! Photo by Jeannie Lee

So why rough it?
One of the most satisfying elements of spending time in the backcountry is connecting with oneself, family and travel companions without the distraction of cell phones, computers and cars. Where we live, fully unplugging from technology is nearly impossible, yet completely enjoyable! Being fully present with those around us is what life is all about, right? Additional rewards of plugging into the wild include being surrounded by mind blowing landscapes, pristine lakes to swim in, new sights and sounds, fresh air and moments of deep relaxation. Totally worth everything it takes to get there. Read on for an inside scoop to make your next backpacking trip a success.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Backpacking with Children
by Jeannie Lee and Jodi Levine-Wright

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Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series                 Photo by Shelly Mead

1. Keep the mileage low (2-3 miles per day) and plan on an hour per mile. Hiking at elevation and with weight is much more strenuous than hiking around your local hills. Before hitting the trail, we planned on hiking 5 miles that first day. After a few steps with a weighted pack (the toddler, a bear canister full of food, water, rain gear, diapers!! and miscellaneous gear), it was pretty clear we would be stopping at the alternative site just 2 miles in. Thank goodness for planning ahead with options! We ended up keeping that site as our basecamp for three nights and going on day excursions from there. It was a total departure from our plans, but was exactly what we needed.

2. Allow plenty of time for exploring in the woods. That’s why we make the effort to get into the woods in the first place! Kids need downtime and playtime. They will also make incredible discoveries with their innate curiosity and keen eyes.

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Taking it all in, Cottonwood Lakes.                        Photo by Jeannie Lee

3. Keep children’s backpack weights low (if you want them to want to do it again). Jeannie’s 7-year old carried 2.5 liters of water, snacks, raincoat, warm hat, down vest, whistle and whatever rocks and sticks he’d collected along the way. Yes, the grown-up gets to carry everything else.

4. Bring food that is varied, nutrient-dense, and fun.  Cheese, carrots and shredded cabbage pack well, as do seeds, nuts and dried fruit. But no need to stick to “trail food”, Pita Pizzas were a massive hit! (We will share that recipe soon!)

5. Positivity is key. Expect the unexpected and go with what is. Between weather, elevation, weighted packs, and new challenges, your itinerary may not unfold the way you had originally planned. Keeping a positive attitude will go a long way to making the trip enjoyable and encourage interest in future backcountry excursions for the whole family.

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Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series

Want to know more? Join  Earthroots Family Backpacking Training series starting September 19 – you’ll learn everything else you need to know and taste a backpacking meal every hike! This series meets once a month for 8 months and includes 2 backcountry trips to get you and your family ready for adventures to come.

See you out there!
Jodi Levine-Wright

Posted in backcountry, backpacking, camping, Classes, Environment, family, habitat, nature, Primitive Skills, summer camp | Comments Off on 5 Tips to Backpacking with Children