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Danelle Cutting: Seed paper is a great project for school children

Bird food tree

Cooperative Extension The tree at Millbridge Elementary was decorated with ornaments that are food for the birds.

Cooperative Extension The tree at Millbridge Elementary was decorated with ornaments that are food for the birds.

By Danelle Cutting

Cooperative Extension Service

Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners are always willing to help me with my programs, and one of them is the holiday celebration at Millbridge Elementary School.

Since we have started gardening at the elementary schools, we have tried to host a holiday program at Millbridge Elementary every year. This year, one of the activities we are going to do is create seed paper ornaments and cards. I thought that since we are doing this with the children at Millbridge, we should share our ideas with other families to do this with their children.

For the seed paper, a lot of prep work had to be done to get it started. You will need a blender, container to soak shredded paper, frame with a screen, seeds, wax paper, food dye if you want to color the paper, container to hold the paper pulp, tea towels, and a place to dry the paper.

It can get a little messy, but it is fun. You need to blend pre-soaked paper with a little water; you can add food dye in this step if you want to color it. Then, pour in a large tote/container, spread across the screened frame until it is evenly coated, and sprinkle with small seeds. Use small flat seeds like lettuce, poppies, kale, etc.

Once you have applied the seeds, take a sheet of wax paper, and press on the paper to squeeze out the excess moisture. You can also press or roll the paper with a rolling pin; the wetter the paper, the harder it is to get off the screen. Once you have finished rolling it, lay it on a tea towel, and you can begin stacking your finished product.

Wait a day or so, and your seed paper should be dry enough. Once it is dry, you can cut shapes out to make ornaments or Christmas/Holiday cards. The great thing about the seed paper is that once the holidays are finished, you can plant the seed paper and have an edible landscape or flowers for the pollinators, a win-win situation for our environment!

Another great project for children during the holidays is creating a food habitat for the animals. Last year, we created a bird buffet for the holiday program at Millbridge Elementary. Each grade level created ornaments to feed to the birds. One used dried bread that was smeared with Crisco and dipped in bird feed. Another did the same to a pine cone. You can also use dried fruit to create garland.

It was fairly simple, yet messy, but the children loved the experience and the birds. Then, we decorated the trees and shrubs around the school with the ornaments. Once the children came back from their break, there was not a single drop of food left! I truly believe the animals enjoyed their holiday feast!

If you are interested in creating environmentally friendly ornaments or ways to garden with the youth, please contact your local Cooperative Extension Agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

For more information on seed paper, visit: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/2011/plantable-seed-paper.pdf

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