What do 5th grade McKay students have in common with mulberries? 

5th grade students exchanged funny looks while they looked at hands and bowls full of of fruit and wondered what humans and mulberries share. 

Aliveness! Life! 

Where did the mulberries come from? Our very own tree at Eastie Farm, harvested by elementary students in our Junior Farmers program in the summer, and stored all summer and fall in the freezer waiting for McKay 5th graders to get to extract and study its DNA as we investigate life in its many forms.

The students gathered around in the Eastie Farm greenhouse, at tables full of pipettes, glass, jars, and microscopes. Many started shedding (almost-)winter coats, wondering why it’s so warm inside here in November. Of course we relished the opportunity to talk about why and how it was warm inside our greenhouse… we asked the kiddos how we heat up spaces. 

The sun! Gas! Heaters! various children shouted 

Hmm all great answers… all of us contributed to figuring it out, how heaters work, how they are usually powered (gas and other non-renewable energy), and also how this greenhouse is powered… drum roll please… geothermal energy! We then talked about what geothermal energy is, and how we pump water from deep in the earth and use the warmth of that water to warm the greenhouse. Meaning we don’t have to use any non-renewable energy– making this a truly green greenhouse! 

And why would we want to make a green greenhouse? Because we are protecting life, this beautiful life. By reducing our usage of fossil fuels, we are reducing our carbon footprint on the earth, and thus preserving life and keeping the ground and the air healthy for us and future generations. 

So, life… remember how we figured out that mulberries are alive? Well yes, they are,and we got to see the evidence of that by seeing with our own eyes their DNA! See the photos below detailing how 5th graders used microscopes to look at mulberry DNA… DNA that we share, and that connects all life forms. 


At the end of session we got to go and take a look at the mulberry tree outside the greenhouse, some of which (the female trees) will fruit come late Spring and early Summer. We asked the youngsters if anyone wanted to try some of these sweet, local fruits growing in their very own neighborhood. All hands shot up in the air with big smiles all around as they exclaimed, “me, me, please me!! Yo, yo! Porfa!” They promised to come back in the Spring for a taste of this sweet berry. 

As the youngsters trickled down the path back towards their school just down the street in the Eastie neighborhood, a couple kids ran over to us, to say “Mr. Will, Mr.Will, Ms. Jenny, we love this place” 

We love this place too. That’s why we do what we do.

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