Family Fun Day Reflection

Family Fun Day Reflection

Worms, ladybugs, butterflies and honeybees – we had a magical time with them all at our Family Fun Day last Saturday.  We have so many photos and video that it will take a while to get through editing all of them, but I wanted to give you a flavor of the day and give details for how others can plan events here.  This post will be a little longer than most, but it was a very action packed day.

We started our adventure with check-in, which included a bag to carry take home crafts and prizes and bug costumes (to help protect clothes from paint and dirt), with antennae to help create bug spirit.  We started with a red plastic smock and added our black ladybug dots. All the children were adorable!  0

Learning Stations:


Our first learning station took us into the main garden to learn about aquaponics in the greenhouse.  The age range of this particular group was pretty young, so instruction was limited, but they enjoyed seeing the Tilapia up close.  They received a paper fish for their bag to take home.  1

You can buy tilapia to raise at alliedaqua


We moved out to the composting barrels to learn about dirt and different kinds of worms and how important worms are to help make good soil.  2Each child picked up earthworms from our worm container and placed them in our new raised bed to help the soil where beets and kale were growing.  We also looked at small composting worms called red wigglers and talked about the size differences.  The kids looked inside the composting barrel and we gave it a couple of turns to show how we mix the kitchen scraps we put in to make new dirt.  Each child got to choose a rubber worm to take home with them.  Worms are a wonderful garden friend. 46

You can buy composting worms here:  red wigglers


The ladybug station was our next stop.  There were plastic and paper ladybugs hidden all over the front yard, flower beds and garden.  Kids had to hunt for them and turn them in to exchange for ladybug stickers.  We made ladybug stamp paintings and set them aside to dry.  21The final activity at this station was our live ladybug release.  Of course we talked about how helpful ladybugs are in our gardens by eating harmful pests that can damage plants.  We passed out a cupful of live ladybugs to each child and let them walk around anywhere in the gardens and let them go. 13  My favorite was watching the littlest babies delight in allowing ladybugs to crawl up their arms.  These were precious experiences. 17



You can purchase ladybugs here:    arbico-organics


 We needed to transition into a new magical kingdom.  Again, due to the younger age range, we didn’t go into great detail about metamorphosis.  In fact, ladybugs and butterflies go through very similar life cycle stages. Here is a cute website to learn more.  ladybug life cycle

Our transition included changing our red plastic smocks to orange.  We walked through long orange and black streamers into the back yard that was prepared for our butterfly theme.  (The painted lady butterflies we were going to learn about are orange and black, similar to a small monarch butterfly). IMG_0098 After a brief instruction time of the life cycle of butterflies, the kids again went on a butterfly hunt for both plastic and solar hovering butterflies.  They were able to keep the plastic ones to take home.butterfly2  We talked about the proboscis of the butterfly and each child was given a party blower to play with and take home to show how it can coil and uncoil, just like a proboscis.  While the honeybee also has a proboscis, it works differently, but again that is information for an older group.  We talked about how butterflies drink nectar from flowers and each child took home large tissue paper flower crafts (there were many “planted” around the yard already made, or they could take home a kit to make their own).

The magical moment had arrived to bring out the live butterflies and release them.  I had nervously waited for them to emerge from their chrysalis in time for our Family Fun Day.  I was also concerned about all the rain we had and the cooler temperatures.  Everything seemed to come together perfectly and all but nine had emerged on time.  We gently pulled out each butterfly on a small sponge soaked with sugar water.  The butterflies sat nicely to take a drink as the kids held them, and then they gracefully took flight to start their new life.  It was so cute to watch the little ones say goodbye just as they flew away.  I’m not sure which was most magical, the butterflies or the looks on the faces of the kids.  It was such a blessing to watch. IMG_1977IMG_0078IMG_0076butterfly1

I had never raised butterflies before, so this was very new to me.    I worked with a wonderful company called Carolina Biological Supply.  I had purchased a variety of things from them as a classroom teacher and as a home-school mom.  They were incredible to work with and patiently answered all my many questions (they even put me in contact with their specialists to help with new areas I wanted to explore).  They were also very reassuring that the butterflies would in fact emerge in time.  (I felt like a nervous mom waiting for delivery, and they were very comforting and kind).  I would highly recommend them for any science needs.

 You can purchase butterfly kits here:  Carolina Biological Supply


     We were ready for our last magical kingdom to learn about another wonderful garden friend – the honeybee.  This also took a new costume change to a yellow plastic smock with black stripes.  (I also was making costumes changes of my own at each station.  That is a great part of the fun of teaching!) We touched on how the bright colors like red, orange or yellow can be warning colors for predators of insects that they can be toxic or dangerous.hb2hb0

We walked down a path through the woods to an area set up with two tables to learn about bees.  Our neighbors, Bill and Tarey Shipley are the beekeepers here.  They currently have a total of ten hives.  This station started with me giving a short explanation of the life cycle of honeybees with hands on models of bees and honeycomb to pass around.  I also briefly touched on the importance of pollination for our food supply and another great pollinator – the Mason bee. Crown Bees are a great resource for information and sent me a wonderful file to print. I bought this cute Mason Bee house here as well. Mason Bee Househb6




Bill and Tarey had an observation frame of bees in glass to look at, as well as all the beekeeping gear and empty hive bodies for the kids to paint. hb9hb6a


Tarey talked about how honeybees do a “bee dance” to communicate where they have found a large nectar location.  I don’t know which dance was more fun to watch – Tarey or the kids.

Some of the younger kiddos were getting tired, so we put an end to the formal instruction.  Each child had to run and find me a dandelion and bring it back to me in exchange for a honey stick.  Most of them made several runs for more than one stick! hb11 Even the grown-ups were making the exchange.  hb12One of the older kids wanted to put on a bee keeper suit and go to the big hives and hold some bees.  We had even had adults holding the bees with no special suit on.  hb14hb16To end the day we found a black snake on the path and decided we also needed to experience a “snake release”.  The oldest male student of the group held and carried the snake (his first experience at this) all the way back up to my garden to release it there.  I have a terrible issue with voles (field mice) making damaging tunnels all through my garden flower beds.  I wanted the snake there to help with pest control; another garden friend (unplanned, but very exciting!)  Families were welcome to stay for a picnic lunch.  We also had a box turtle we had kept in a large container that the kids could hold.  We marked it with fingernail polish so we could identify it and released it for fun.

Why Do We Do This?

Part of the goal and purpose of WellStone Gardens is to educate and inspire others.  This property offers wonderful educational options for families, homeschool groups and school field trips.  This Family Fun Day was our opportunity to showcase what can be done here.  We used it for fun, photos and videos for our Kids Korner section of the website.IMG_0086IMG_2048

With busy families and schedules, it is difficult for us to plan these types of events on a regular basis.  If there are any groups interested in hands on science themes or living history experiences, we wanted to give information for how to book educational or recreational events here.  We can work on the curriculum together.

For educational opportunities, the fees are $5.00 per child, plus supplies.  We need to have a minimum of 10 children.  (Supply costs vary depending on the subject matter and age of students).  Each group is responsible to make sure there are at least 10 students present.  Some examples could be learning about ants, praying mantis, gardening, composting, aquaponics, living history, more in depth honeybee or Mason bee information, local birds, etc.….  We have even hosted a bus load of kids and focused on an art theme.  It was a great time!

For recreational activities we have had birthday parties, church picnics (see link here: church picnics), ladies luncheons, and obstacle course events.  Fees are $15 per person plus supplies. We again need a minimum of 10 to book the schedule.  Each group is responsible for their own food unless arrangements are made. (No alcohol is allowed for insurance purposes).

Let us help you create your own special fun filled event!

Call 816-738-1308 for available dates and added information.

Springtime Garden Update 3

Springtime Garden Update 3

I want to continue to give on-going garden updates to encourage others than anyone can try new and creative ways of growing a variety of food.

Garden Update

The Tilapia fish in the tank in our little greenhouse are growing nicely (even though we have lost a few) and our first try with Hydroponics is still moving forward.  We and our neighbors have harvested lettuce and kale for several salads.  Our neighbors have even taken the lettuce stems and planted them outside.  It is incredible to watch them continue to regrow.  We plan to plant basil and mint to replace the lettuce and kale in the hydroponic garden as the temperatures begin to rise.

Hydroponics 2tilapia 5

I have to share with you a cute story of a couple of precious little girls who are bringing us very large earthworms that we are keeping in a tub in the greenhouse to feed to the fish as they get bigger.  These two little ones are raising money to send to Africa to help other children.  They each bring their own container with the worms they have hunted for.  I love to watch them count out each worm when they get here so they can get paid separately.  They enjoy the fish and are curious about composting as well. It is such a joy to watch and it warms my heart.
cabbage 1 potatoes 1 lettuce 1

Cabbage, beets, kale, lettuce, herbs, potatoes and tomatoes are all doing well is a variety of containers.  I know some of them are a little crowded right now, but there are still plans to build a larger U-shaped bed as the weather warms up.  We can then transplant to give them more room.  I just wanted to show you how well things can grow in containers.  You don’t need a lot of land or space in order to grow your own veggies.  beets 1


May Family Fun Day


We are planning a Fun Family Event here on May 21st from 9:00 – 12:00.  We will have learning stations involving helpful garden friends, including a ladybug release, a butterfly release and observing honeybees.  We will be sending out more information each week.  The cost will be $20 per family.  Families are welcome to bring a picnic lunch and stay to play in the afternoon. Mark your calendars and join us in the fun!

Encouragement For Challenged Health

I need to ask the question, “Why do we grow our own food in gardens?”  Each one of you may give a variety of answers, but the overall goal of WellStone Gardens is vibrant health.  Nutrition matters whether you grow your own or not.  Food is medicine.  I want to share with you this incredible true story of how food and exercise helped turn a life around.  tricia

If you met this beautiful young mother of two today, you would never suspect that she had ever been anything but the picture of ideal beauty and health.   What strikes me about her story is that she started her life as so many of our babies do… colic, ear infections, etc. which indicate the modern problem of poor gut bacteria… however, rather than accept the standard medical protocol, she sought and achieved optimal health through nutrition and lifestyle.   There is so much more to her story, she is in her early thirties and on her second career- a nutritional coach and pilates instructor.   She enters triathlons, half marathons, is raising and nurturing two beautiful children along with her most adventurous husband, Jeremy Collins.  Below is a link to her story which I hope will inspire you to move out of your comfort zone and go for the best you can be.    Tricia’s Story


Spring Life Update

Spring Life Update

I know this is going out on April Fool’s Day, but I don’t have any fun way to play a joke on you all, so you’ll have to be creative on your own. (One year my kid’s placed a small rubber band around the sprayer on the sink so that I got sprayed when I turned the water on.  It was very surprising!)

Garden Update

I love springtime, so through May I wanted to follow the same type of garden themes as last month with new information.  With this in mind, I wanted to give some update photos on our greenhouse plants/hydroponics and our little Tilapia.  All are growing nicely.

Hydroponics 2hydroponics fish 2

We have had such crazy weather (we had cold weather and a little snow on Easter), that I’m glad we had our plants inside the greenhouse.

greenhouse seed plants 1

greenhouse container gardening

In addition to our greenhouse growing, we are re-configuring our raised bed square foot gardens, so while we are waiting to re-construct, my neighbor brought me over some wonderful large containers that he had from minerals he gets for his cattle. (Bill and Tarey Shipley are the BEST neighbors ever!)  He drilled five holes in the bottom of each one and we placed a couple of inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage.  We filled them with dirt we have had in a pile composting.  They are wonderfully deep and they are planted so far with asparagus(green and purple), garlic and purple potatoes.  These are all first time attempts, so we’ll see what happens.

perspiration garden can 2



Local and Organic

Gardening is fun, but it is also a lot of work.  We are all about encouraging and inspiring people to grow your own, but we also understand there are many who want the healthy produce (and meats) without all the work.  For those who are in this category (and who are local), I have an invitation for you.  Tomorrow (April 2) there is an Eat Local and Organic Expo Eat local and organicsponsored by the Kansas City Food Circle.  It will be at Johnson County Community College from 9-2.




I will be at the table with Casa Somerset.  I plan to have some fliers as well as a few organic herbs and some cute seed planting kits for kids.  I was there last year and all the vendors were wonderful.  This event is totally worth your time to come to.  Please stop by and talk, I would love to see you!  Be sure to get outside, breath deep and enjoy the beauty of Spring!

bluebirdslandingbluebird on finialbluebirds greenhousebluebirdonoblisque

New Life In The Spring: Under Construction

New Life In The Spring: Under Construction

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. It always seems full of new energy, new hope and promise. I love the beautiful sounds of the birds and smell of fresh air that jog childhood memories of Spring. Today I heard my first turtle dove and I saw a majestic bald eagle flying near our home! I was so excited to see it that I stopped in the middle of the road just to watch it. There is a wonderful sense of new life in the Spring with the daffodils and tulips breaking through the ground and trees budding into bright colors. With every warm day we see our honeybees out flying around. Our neighbors chickens are exploring everywhere searching for bugs and are back to laying an abundance of eggs.

Grow Your Own – THE TIME IS NOW

 sullivans flat



Vegetables, herbs and fruits are a vital part to good nutrition. With the rising costs of healthy food options, growing your own may be an alternative for you. In addition to the obvious notion of eating your produce, there are the added health benefits of working outside (exercise is essential to health) and the enjoyment of reveling in the beauty of nature (recreation – Re – Creation; new life and freshness for you mind, emotions and spirit).

Part of our passion is to give you resources and to cheer you on into this area of gardening. If gardening is an interest to you – now is the time to begin. We have tried a variety of gardening techniques and one of the books we love is “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Barthelomew.


Under Construction

greenhouse1  greenhouse

talapia tub

This year we have launched a new construction project of putting up a small greenhouse (10’ x 12’) in order to extend our growing season and to attempt the possibilities of hydroponic gardening with a tank of Tilapia. This is totally a work in progress, but we wanted to bring you along on our journey. We were blessed to have our neighbors, Bill and Tarey Shipley, join us in this endeavor so we split the costs and the effort. We want to encourage you by giving you the resources we found so that you may be inspired.

We bought our greenhouse at Harbor Freight

We bought seed starting supplies at Growers Solutions

We collaborate with Sullivan’s Greenhouse and buy small organic plants.

We bought our hydroponic supplies at Allied Aqua


Regardless of whether you grow you own or not, our challenge to you is to eat and/or drink as many veggies as you can each day. A great place to start is to drink a smoothie everyday making sure it is comprised with 50% vegetable (organic spinach or kale are a great place to start). You can find an easy smoothie recipe option that can be adapted to your personal tastes here.

Our foundational books listed in Resources are “Grain Brain” and “Wheat Belly”. This month we would encourage you to read “Brain Maker” (We will use this book as a reference for next week’s post).

Challenge and Encouragement

When it comes to vital health and wellness, we believe it is best to be pro-active and focus on prevention of illness and disease whenever possible, so that you can more fully enjoy quality of life, not just quantity of years. Our challenge for you is to examine areas of your life that may be negatively affecting your health now or potentially in the future, and commit to making small changes.

We want to offer encouragement by giving you suggested resources that can help turn your health around. Remember we are all “under construction” and there are always opportunities for “new life in the Spring”.