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The Dirt Dispatch by Sophia D., Sarah L., Micaela




Organism of the Year; Moles! Soil is a necessity when it comes to the life of our crops, food, oxygen, and animals. Trees need fertile soil to become healthy so they can bear fruit and filter out their surrounding air so living things will be able to take in clean oxygen. Carnivorous creatures feed off animals that eat plants, so therefore the food chain would be completely demolished if soil was not present. In order for human beings to have a balanced diet we need leafy greens which will help boost not only our metabolism but our immune system. Without the three main horizons of soil, the earth’s crust would be solely comprised of bedrock, a very hard material that would make it very difficult to construct underground facilities. Not to mention the fact that the ground is a sole component when it comes to the degrading of pollution, as it absorbs air waste. As you can see, soil is vital to substantial ecosystems worldwide.

On average the planet is covered in about 3 feet (or a bit more) of topsoil. We’ve all recognized the importance of soil in class, and the thought of soil being threatened should already raise a great deal of concern. With a growing population it has been evident that in the past 50 years we have mismanaged our soil by draining it of its nutrients and extorting too much pollution for it to absorb. Because of global warming the climate and weather is rapidly changing, causing erosion and weathering to be a common event. Too much erosion can wash away the topsoil. To prevent this loss farmers need to maintain healthy soil by not overworking it, and everyone needs to work on reducing their carbon footprint, along with spreading the initial word.

Moles are one of the larger rodents that have adapted to an underground lifestyle, their diet consisting of worms and certain microorganisms, part of their duty being to balance the critters of the soil. Unlike most mammals, moles are able to tolerate higher levels of carbon dioxide which is what enables them to remain underground for extended periods of time. Once moles have inhaled a certain amount of oxygen above ground, they are able to reuse this oxygen multiple times while they are situated in these underground burrows. Although moles do not have eyes and are unable to see, their scent glands are extremely powerful, this is the way they navigate throughout the subterranean streets.

Organism of the Year: Moles! (continued) To begin with, moles do not eat the roots of plants underground, this is a common mistake made when molehills are seen. Moles solely feed on insects and small grubs. Most of these vermins that moles are feeding on are the organisms that cause extensive damage to plants, they are the underground versions of pest control. It is not uncommon for a single mole to eat up to 40 lbs. of food a year! The tunnels that moles bore under the surface can actually help with aeration, providing lawns, or certain environments with improved drainage, reducing soil compaction, and increasing the infiltration if nutrients to the roots. Moles can also assist the tossing of soil which would prevent the growth of massive fungi breeds, they are like the sous chefs of the soil! Moles play an important role in the soil ecosystems, so consider yourself lucky if your backyard is home to one.

“Everyday I am hard at work burrowing through the soil and eating up the insects underground so that our subterranean ecosystem

Our facilities have voted Moles as the organisms of the year due to their roles as balancers of the soil, the aeration systems that they have developed underground, and the works that they do breaking down and fertilizing the soil. No other dingy specimen can compare to the beloved mole, and we hope that after reading this very informative article you too, will recognize the of importance of moles, and that you will think twice before crushing the underground tunnels that lay beneath your feet.

can be balanced! I am honored to have received this award from the Dirt Dispatch! I certainly deserve it!� - Marty the Mole

Picture Credits: Sanja G

One Wild and Precious Life Poems Above Me Poem Micaela M.

Above Me The circular sun peers Its rays sizzle my already lobster skin The chit chat of annoyed teens makes me chuckle I imagine it getting softer as it disperses into the green shrubs My mind gets lost, as I smell a jumble of different spices around me Only I realize that I am a fool, for it was just a clichĂŠ verse dancing in the wind I receive a gentle hug from its tender arms I am no longer fueled by hatred Green, brown, and blue colors dance around the picture I can only think of one word to describe this vibrant garden Mysterious The secrets it has heard and the pictures it has seen It makes the goose bumps down my back tremble with fear Or is it excitement I am pulled up I feel the wind blow I hear my feet drag What story have I left here?

The Fantasy Land Sarah L. Above me I hear a bird singing to the pink flower. As I see the whipped cream clouds I smell a waft of the pepper plant. While figuring out what to write I see the sun pouring through the Christmas colored leaves leaving the impression of foam floating down a calm river. While I eat my popsicle to quench the heat, I notice to my right a plant who seems to be hugging his neighbor; but to my left I see an angel that seems to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Maybe it’s not so much of a fantasy land after all.

Magic Valley Sophia D.

Above me drifts the croak of a desert sparrow, While the quaint winding pebbled path shifts beneath my eagerness, and the beacon-lit nectar oozes out from the oak tree’s craters. Warm breezes sway little suns, fragrant stars. Soldiers of the soil align, Scuttling underneath the serrated succulents.

it seems as if the distant caterpillars parading across the fountain’s edge do not mind me, but they do. It also seems as if the strangers who trot over the still life and shift this pebbled path do not mind me, But they do. Unaware of awareness is the bridge between becoming you and Becoming everyone.

Mariposa Creamery Urban Farming Sarah L.

The Zane Grey Estate is the home of the Mariposa Creamery which holds cheese making classes and has tours open for local schools who want to expand their knowledge on Urban Farm. Just to tell you the Mariposa Creamery is a home to a family so you can’t just walk in and say “Hey there. I am going to walk around your house and stay here all day.” you have to make an appointment. The family that owns the Mariposa Creamery works with Wild Food Lab. The Wild Food Lab is trying to get more healthy and accessible food into our everyday diet by bonding rustic recipes with our modern recipes.

Mariposa Creamery is helping by creating their own cheese and raising their own garden. The Mariposa Creamery holds cheese making classes so you can make your own delightful cheese without having to pay for that fancy Mascarpone cheese. Their cheese is high-quality and cruelty-free, so you know after visiting with their goats and learning how to make true cheese you can say that you have “gone back in time”.

lined maze we were told that it would take us approximately five minutes to complete if we walked at a slow, steady pace. One at A warm and sunny Tuesday aftera time each of us were instructed to empty noon was when our team embarked on our our minds of thoughts (which had proven to journey to the infamous Arlington Gardens be very difficult), seal our lips, and use the of Pasadena. Although the city of Pasade- crunch of our footsteps as tranquilizers. It na contains over 25 designated parks and was truly incredible that 20 thirteen-year old open spaces for greenery, Arlington Gargirls were able to reach this state of meditadens happens to be the only dedicated tion, although I will admit that towards the public garden in the district. The garden’s last winding corners some of us did manarchitecture has been infused with hints of age to lose it! Italian, hence the looming olive trees and even has a designated succulent court, a small creek, all of these being separated by thinly winding adobe paths. There are beautiful surprises around every corner, including a 7 paneled labyrinth, fountained plazas, and fruit groves. Upon our visit our class of 63 was engaged in the following three activities over the course of a 2 ½ hour visit: conducting a soil bacterial analysis, weaving through the anciently designed labyrinth, or embracing the thought of connecting with our “larger self” by becoming poets. After creating a circle and reading aloud Mr. Cross released us into the gardens to gain inspiration, although, most were distracted due to the fact that they interpreted these instructions as a free period...anyhow, these activities were all beautiful ways to end the school day, and a To begin with, myself, Sarah and Mi- great introduction to the Soil Unit. In honor caela were given seven petri dishes, three of our experiences, on the following pages of which were to be filled with different vari- we have attached for you the poems we eties of soil, one to be left open as the con- each have written that were inspired by Artrol dish, the other three were left up to us lington Gardens. to decide. Through preparing this experiment we were able to conduct discussions on the different textures, colors, and consistencies of the soil as well as creating a hypothesis based on these thoughts. As we approached the small stone Arlington Gardens (Sophia D.)

Oak Tree An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus., having approximately 600 extant species. Oaks have spirally arranged leaves; some have serrated leaves or entire leaves with smooth margins. Many deciduous species are marcescent, not dropping dead leaves until spring. In spring, a single oak tree produces both male flowers and small female flowers. The fruit is a nut called an acorn, born in a cup-like structure known as a cupule; each acorn contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes 6–18 months to mature, depending on species. Plant Needs Zone: 7 to 10 Light: Partial shade to full sun Moisture: Wet to moist Soil Type: Sandy, loam, or clay Foliage: Evergreen broadleaf Height: 30 to 40 feet Spread: 40 to 60 feet

I am an important part of the Westridge Community. I mean a lot to the people who tend to me and protect me. You should be careful because I am very old and I do not want mold, fun gus, or diseases on me. Be careful not to over water me because then my roots create mold! I do not like concrete near me because my roots need to stretch far! I can super big and I am beyond beautiful. I know that you will miss me if I get ex tinguished from Westridge so let’s work together to grow some new oak trees and keep me safe! Trust me, we both need it!

Shape: Spreading

The oak's bark takes on a life of its own as it ages. While younger oaks feature a dark brown bark, older trees develop a red tinge and often turn black. In addition, as the tree matures its bark furrows and develops scaly ridges. Oaks are typically classified in three main groups. The White Oak tree is distinguished by its grayish-brown bark and majestic beauty. The Red Oak tree is best known for its leaves which turn a brilliant scarlet color in the fall. Black Oak, This tree's name is derived from its dark-colored trunk. Most types of oak trees age well and can survive hundreds of years. The typical oak can live to be at least 200 years with some exceeding the 600 year mark. By Micaela M.

This Dirt Sarah L. I see an apple tree in the distance. Where did that tree come from. It came from a seed and it came from the dirt. The seed was lightly placed on the newly formed dirt and was pressed in by all the passers bys. After a week the dees finally saw the light of day again and reached out for it trying to embrace it. Ever since then the tree has tried to reach the sun with all its might, but never to avail.

Tuesday’s Game Sophia D.

Scrambling away from the specimen that snatched my toe, My jagged boots churning the soil, Twisting the dew dropped blades of green, These blades should support my lunges throughout the field.

The ball skipping across the wretched unevenness lures me, At last the blades unwind from my ankles and release me from their embrace. Until the soil uproots my boots and allows me to pass Finally willing to escort my simple intentions.

c Yawp


ean in the place I thought was the dirtiest.

ot ruin the cleanest ground floor with my destructive waste.

ot pick at the green souls of the ground.

an the tastiest of food kill the most innocent thing?


mallest of killers always strike silently and in the deepest of places.

ggest of killers hit at the hungriest times and at the corner of your street.

up to the sound of the chirping birds that spread little bits of the earth.

ver to see the star mouthed mole that digs into the dark brown soil.

s the critters that ruin our rich, deep soil.

on the earthworm that helps break down the precious nutrients for our soil.

on’t I care for the tiniest beings on our planet?

t them, I would not be here.

y would.

onder what I have to offer to the world.

ot like the soil.

gain, I do not know.


epped on.



multiple purposes.

ed me.

Propaganda Poster: “Lettuce Bee United Through our Roots”

Dear Readers, Dear Readers,

Our team has prepared for you a culmination of various written works reflecting on what we have learned throughout a ten day unit all about soil. Throughout this for youthe a culmination various written worksvery reflecting on course ofOur tenteam dayshas we prepared were all given opportunityofto visit Pasadena’s own Arwhat we have learned throughout a ten day unit all about soil. Throughout this course of lington Gardens, where we performed experiments testing the bacterial growth on a ten days of wesoil, were all giventhrough the opportunity to visitdesigned Pasadena’s very own Arlington Gardens, variety weaved an anciently labyrinth, and became poets. where we performed experiments testing the bacterial growth on a variety of soil, weaved The three of us learned about food labels, victory gardens, and the benefit of locally through an anciently designed labyrinth, and became poets. The three of us learned about grown food all leading up to the creation of our very own propaganda poster having to food labels, victory gardens, and the benefit of locally grown food all leading up to the creado tion withoffresh, naturally grown crops. Thehaving following were spent learning about The our very own propaganda poster to dodays with fresh, naturally grown crops. how mulch effects thespent growth of weeds, is able to prevent bothofdroughts andit is following days were learning abouthow how itmulch effects the growth weeds, how flooding, getting hands on with dirt, worms, and grub outside. able to while prevent both droughts and flooding, while getting hands on withI personally dirt, worms,felt and grub likeoutside. this unitI personally complemented the Water Unit which we endured towards beginning felt like this unit complemented the Water Unit which the we endured toof the year, we were able to recognize theable importance of soil on the im- based wards the and beginning of the year, and we were to recognize the based importance of soil on the importance portance of water. of water.

One afternoon the Arroyo Arroyocanyons, canyons, where were inOne afternoonhalf halfofofour ourclass class visited visited the where wewe were instructed to heave mulch using upon the outgrown that weeds were not supposed to be structed to heave mulchwheelbarrows using wheelbarrows upon the weeds outgrown that were not there. They explained to us that one of the possible dangers of wide fields of dead grass supposed to be there. They explained to us that one of the possible dangers of wide were not to mention the fact mulch is nutritious for the plants growing around fields of wildfires, dead grass were wildfires, notthat to mention the fact that mulch is nutritious for it. I had never known that soil was at risk, and after digging deeper into this concept I now know the plants growing around it. I had never known that soil was at risk, and after digging what into soil is made up of,Iwhy needwhat to value andof, what can do to deeper this concept nowwe know soil itisgreatly, made up whywewe need toprevent value itthe gradual destruction of topsoil. greatly, and what we can do to prevent the gradual destruction of topsoil. The most interesting aspect of this unit for me was when a series of garden experts entered and assisted us as we planted rain gardens, built habitats for worms, tended to the Thebuilt most interesting aspect thistook unit us foron me was when series of garden ex-and weeds, seed bombs, and theyofeven a nature walk.aAfter watching videos perts entered and assisted as we planted rain gardens, builttohabitats experiencing individual soilus techniques it was thrilling to be able put all offor ourworms, skills to use, especially theybuilt wereseed able bombs, to benefitand the they Westridge I played role in tended to thesince weeds, even community. took us on aSince nature walk.aAfter the landscaping of the school (although it was very small) I feel as if I’ve generated a greater watching videos and experiencing individual soil techniques it was thrilling to be able bond my skills classmates and teachers,since and I they hope were that our magazine willthe inspire others to to put allwith of our to use, especially able to benefit Westridge want to create this bond, too. community. Since I played a role in the landscaping of the school (although it was

very small) I feel as if I’ve generated a greater bond with my classmates and teachers, and I hope that our magazine will inspire others to want to create this bond, too. Sophia D.

- Sophia D.

Dear Readers, I really enjoyed the soil more than I expected. I knew I was going to have fun and learn so much, but I hadn’t expected to be so excited for the day’s soil unit activities. I had a lot of fun during the water unit and learned all about water, the world’s problems, and what we need to do, but during this soil unit I was able to learn about it all and experience so many different hands - on activities. I was able to learn about how soil is formed, topsoil, the beauty of soil, why we need soil, and that we need to save our soil. I enjoyed all of the hands - on activities because they really opened up my eyes to how much fun gardening can be and how easy it is to do. I felt very inspired to want to make my own garden and learn more about being able to help my community around me. I really enjoyed working on my poems because I worked really hard to make them my best, and I think I did a great job. I really enjoyed doing the first poem because I felt so connected to the world around me, and I really liked being able to talk about the Arlington garden. I also felt that it was written well. I worked really hard to get it perfect! I thought that the second poem was okay because I was very confused on how to write a Barbaric Yawp poem, but once I figured out how to write, one I was very fascinated. I was very wowed at how to write one because there are so many different ways to write this type of poem and the possibilities are endless. Once I finished writing my poem, I realized that I just needed to focus and I was able to write a strong poem that expressed how I felt about the soil unit. In the end I really did enjoy writing the poems. I have grown a lot and I have grown to love them. I love working on the hands on activities because I was able to experience it all through my hands. I feel that I can listen more and I am more connected to what we are talking about. I am a very big visual learner and when we look at soil or we work on projects I am able to have lots of fun but learn so much! I learned all about gardens, bacteria, and ways to create homes for worms, and of course, how to center yourself. I would have to say that I enjoyed the soil unit more then the water unit because of all the hands- on soil work. The Arlington garden taught me so much and was the best way to kick off the soil unit. Micaela

Dear Reader, During the soil unit I have learned many new things about our earth that we didn’t know before. Without the soil unit some kids would be oblivious to the crisis that is ongoing. That crisis is the way we are imprinting our life into the Earth, and not in a good way. The Soil Unit was fun but also challenging. The reason why it is challenging is that we are learning about the way “we” are impacting the Earth. We are not impacting it in a good way. We are scarring the Earth with our carbon footprint. During the Soil Unit our school group went to many places to study soil. First we went to Arlington Garden which is an urban farm. At the garden we tested the amount of germs in different regions, we found inspiration for a poem, walked through a labyrinth to help calm our minds, then wandered around just taking in the scenery. Then we went to the Millard Canyons in the Arroyo Foothills to put mulch down to help the native plants take over rather than the invasive grass. Then on our second to last day we ventured around campus and talked about how we are destroying the Earth. But we also learned how we can help it. While looking back on the Soil Unit, and looking at all the things we learned and all the places we went I noticed how lucky we are to even be able to study this precious specimen. Sarah

Soil magazine sarah l sophia d micaela  

7th grade Soil Unit 2014 SarahL SophiaD Micaela

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