Food for Thought: Intro to the Virtual Sustainability Learning Center

Food For Thought

Episode 6: The Learn & Grow Virtual Sustainability Learning Center

In this episode of Food for Thought, Anne explains the purpose and design elements of the Virtual Sustainability Learning Center and how it will be used to provide ongoing online instruction until we get our tiny house ( and add to our sustainable living instruction using it.

For now, we’re providing project-based instruction supported by modeling in an evidence-based approach to providing virtual instruction to hands-on problem-solving and the application of academic skills to addressing real-world problems on a scale that can be replicated by many families, either as part of a home-based instruction strategy during shutdown or an ongoing homeschooling application, as well as other groups such as Scout troops, schools, and community-based organizations.

* More information about Feed America and pandemic-related childhood food insecurity –
* More info on beneficial soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, which can reduce anxiety:

Key basic materials used in the design and implementation of the Virtual Sustainability Learning Center:
* Tent-yurt –
* Wood burning stove –
* Shower/bathroom tent –
* Sink/table –
* Composting toilet system:
(Instructions: One bucket serves as a storage container for clean, unused coconut coir. The scoop goes with it, so you can scoop fresh coconut coir into the toilet. The second bucket is the actual toilet. Snap the toilet seat to the top of it and put a layer of coconut coir down on the bottom of the bucket. Thereafter, when using the toilet, cover your waste with more fresh coconut coir. Once it fills up to the point where it almost can’t be comfortably used, dump the contents into a composter, rinse it out, dump the rinse water also into the composter, return to the bathroom space, and reload it with a fresh new bottom layer of coconut coir. After 6 months, the composted bathroom waste can be used to fertilize trees; after 1 year, it can be used to fertilize food crops.)
* Two 5-gallon buckets, one with a lid – and
* Toilet seat –
* Loose coconut coir –
* Scoop –
* Gray water recapturing buckets:
* 16-gallon for shower –
* 7-gallon for sink –
* Mylar emergency blankets for making a heat-reflector inside the tent-yurt –
* Omnia Stovetop Oven –

More information about the Great American Dust Bowl of the 1930s –

More information about Lev Vygotsky –

We needed to replace our current battery-operated shower. The pump is already dying, so we can’t recommend it. We recently ordered, but it hasn’t been delivered, yet, so we’ll have to keep you posted on how well it works out.

***Note: All product links to Amazon are via affiliate links. A portion of all proceeds from Amazon orders helps us fund our educational programs and services.

Music credit:
Simple Ballad by Alexander Nakarada |
Music promoted by
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Food for Thought: Comparison of Total D.I.Y. vs. GroBucket

In this episode of Food for Thought, Anne Zachry, creator of the Learn & Grow Educational Series and her colleague and Learn & Grow volunteer, Isabel Arreola, compare a total DIY version of a self-watering container to a self-watering container made with a GroBucket by GroTech (

Those of you who have been following us for a while should remember Isabel from our original Spanish language how-to video that we made a few years ago, mostly in response to the Venezuelan food crisis, about the total DIY method of building out a self-watering container, which has since been viewed on Facebook about 166K times at the time of this current post ( We recently reposted it to Instagram ( It lives on our YouTube channel as well (

While anyone interested in self-watering container gardening will find this video interesting, this is also good information for gardeners with Vision-Related Disabilities (VRDs) who may find the GroBucket approach more user-friendly. Isabel has a VRD and teaches others with VRDs how to access school, community, and employment, as well as live independently, in Sacramento, CA.

If you are interested in building your own GroBucket containers, you can order them at the following fundraiser affiliate links:

A portion of all proceeds (approximately 3% of the sale price) goes back to the Learn & Grow Educational Series to help cover the costs of our food security and sustainability curriculum, instructional programs, and online information.

#grotech #grobucket #sustainability #gardening #organic #selfwateringcontainer #selfwateringplanter #TeachEveryWhereGrowAnywhere #FoodSecurityIsFreedom #LearnAndGrowEdSeries #waterconservation #repurpose #recycle #portablegarden #gardeningforrenters #rentersgarden #apartmentgardening #condogardening #townhousegardening #hungerrelief #foodsecurity #fooddesertsolution

Food for Thought: Teaching Diversity Appreciation Via Permaculture

In our fourth episode of Food for Thought, Anne discusses how project-based instruction using companion planting and other polyculture techniques illustrate how diversity is a natural phenomenon that can be used to maximize the benefits for all involved. It can serve as a neutral topic of instruction illustrating that understanding how things naturally work best together produces superior results than competing for resources, which can then be used as the neutral lens through which we examine human diversity and its function in modern society.






Food for Thought: Teaching How Systems Work Through Gardening

In our 3rd episode of Food for Thought, our director and creator of the Learn & Grow Educational Series discusses how to use gardening to teach kids about systems, how they work, and how they interact with each other to create larger systems.


Fundraiser: Buy non-GMO seeds for your own self-watering container garden (affiliate link) –

Let Us Make You a Garden

If you are located in Ventura, Santa Barbara, or West Los Angeles County, California, and would like a custom-built self-watering container garden, but don’t have the time to put it together yourself, we are making ourselves available to collect the recycled pieces, pre-cut the parts, and deliver your container garden to you using proper social distancing measures and safety equipment.

Upon arriving at your location with the containers, soil, live plants, seeds, earthworms, and beneficial nematodes, we’ll assemble and fill the containers on site. We can leave them safely in the front of your location and you can move them around to your liking once we have left. We can help you place them where you want them so long as proper social distancing methods are achievable. Once they are where you want them, you can fill the reservoirs with water and off you go!

Sometimes, just getting a gardening project started seems so daunting that it’s hard to make it happen. But, once it’s started, especially with self-watering containers, the work is fairly minimal to keep it going, but the rewards are well worth it. Compared to other methods of gardening, the cost-savings in water alone make the initial investment in getting things started minimal by comparison.

The Learn & Grow experimental teaching garden

This is a fundraising effort to help cover the costs of our non-profit food security and sustainable living curriculum. Most of the per-container fee goes to the costs of building your garden; what is left over goes back to Learn & Grow to cover the costs of publishing our instructional materials online, operating our experimental teaching garden, and expanding our curriculum to include other aspects of living sustainably.

The investment you make to get started will pay for itself several times over the span of years that you grow food in the containers we provide. You will have healthy, organically grown garden-to-table food that you can take with you if you ever need to relocate, and which can moved around to meet changing lighting needs throughout the year as the seasons change, conserves water, keeps plastics out of landfills, reduces your independence on the commercialized food supply, requires no open ground for growing, and can be scaled to fit in oddly shaped and/or small spaces.

Minimum order – 1 set of 3 self-watering containers, assembled and seeded or planted with your choice of fruits or vegetables. If you want more than 1 set of 3 containers, once you hit the “Add to Order” button, update the quantity in the shopping cart to order additional sets of 3.

Once you have placed your order, we will contact you to find out what you want planted in your containers and schedule delivery. If you have any questions about your order, you can email us at or call us at (805) 292-2003. You can also DM us from our Instagram account and Facebook page.

The next big dream: The Learn & Grow Tiny House!

Our next big undertaking is to have a tiny house built to our design specifications for the purpose of providing instruction regarding sustainable living. This will include grey water recapturing for the garden, rainwater collection for in-home and garden use, alternative energies, and sustainable building methods and materials.

We will be incorporating the Learn & Grow self-watering container gardening and laying hen care instruction with the new sustainable living instruction for our online and in-person learners. In the future, our tiny house will be part of the Learn & Grow instruction, along with the garden and our laying hens. We have eventual plans to add bees for honey and goats for dairy.

We have recently formed a new non-profit organization, the Institute for Educational Equity, Inc. (IEEI), of which the Learn & Grow Educational Series is now a division. We are now incorporated in the State of California and are in the process of assembling and submitting our application to the IRS for our 501(c)(3) status.

Your financial support will help us cover the professional services costs and filing fees to get our paperwork in order, purchase equipment and materials for our instructional programs, create new online and in-person (eventually, once this whole COVID-19 mess is over and we can safely do so) instruction, and cover the rent and fees associated with the space currently occupied by our experimental teaching garden.

If you don’t need our help to start your own container garden or your outside our local area, but still want to help out, you can always donate to us through KPS4Parents at

Food for Thought: Teaching Long-Term Planning to Kids with Gardening

Learn & Grow Educational Series’ creator, Anne M. Zachry, M.A. Ed. Psych., discusses the life lessons that are naturally embedded in learning to grow food and how this is deliberately accounted for in Learn & Grow’s curriculum.

How to Pet a Chicken

Quiet Riot, our Silkie, enjoys getting scratched on her neck, under her wings, and along her back before scampering away to play.

Using Repurposed Materials to Combat Ground Squirrels

After ground squirrels dug up one end of the Learn & Grow test garden, Learn & Grow Educational Series creator, Anne Zachry, explains how she used pieces of an old chicken pen to create a barrier to prevent burrowers from tearing up the garden.

Food for Thought: Food Security During Times of Crisis

This is Episode 1 of our Vlog, Food for Thought. This episode is titled, “Food Security During Times of Crisis.”

This video discusses the use of an old urban gardening technique, self-watering containers made from 5-gallon buckets, as a means of ensuring food security for individuals, families, and communities regardless of the economy and condition of the commercialized food supply.

The Learn & Grow Educational Series was created according to best practices in educational program design to teach people everywhere how to grow food anywhere.

#FoodSecurityIsFreedom #TeachEverywhereGrowAnywhere

References: Compost Tea vs. Leachate –…

The Value of Patience

artichokes growing in a self-watering container in the Learn & Grow test garden

In our ever-increasingly rapid-paced world, we have become accustomed to real-time results to many of our efforts and inquiries, which amounts to instant gratification. Surrounded by these experiences, it is easy for developing young children who are still processing the world according to intuition rather than logic to misperceive this constant stream of instant gratification as the only kind of gratification to be had.

The danger in this is that it fails to teach children the value of patience and planning things for the long haul rather than immediate, short-term benefit. One of the most compelling reasons that KPS4Parents has based our instructional content on gardening is the fact that gardening takes time. One of the critical concepts that children must learn about where food comes from is how long it takes to grow it.

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