Worm Activity

A worm bin was created at Northeast Elementary this morning. This is what happened.

Let’s Learn About Worms!!

We started with the worm bin made at Healthy Waltham. The students looked at this worms and held them learning more about how nice they are.

Then it was the time to make our own worm bin.  We started by ripping up old newspaper into thin strips to create bedding. Bedding is an important part of the worm bin because it provides a place for the worms to be when they are not eating the things put into the worm bin.

Then we dampened the strips in water so that they would be moist. It is important to have the bedding be somewhat moist, but not too wet.

The next step was to put a little it of soil to add to the bedding.  This gave the worms more places to live.

Then worms were put in. Each student picked up the worms from the old worm bin and put them into the new worm bin.  Then they put some food inside.  Soon the worm bin will grow and the worms will eat food.  In 35 Days there can be more worms that are alive and lving in there making compost from vegetables.

It is important that the things composted are mostly vegetables. it is not that the worms will not eat anything else. It is just that things like fruit will attract fruit flies and then you will have a fruit fly bin.

Here are some ways to deal with fruit flies who may start hanging out around your bin.  The thing you can do is to have a cover on it. Another thing to do is to avoid using sweet fruits and citrus, as this will attract fruit flies. Make sure you put the food under the bedding a little bit both so that the worms can access it and so that flies are not attracted to them. One fun thing to do if there are too many furit flies swriling around the bin is to take a vaccuum cleaner and vacuum in the air they are flying in.  This will suck up a lot of them in no time.

Scott Oglesby November 2011

Waltham City Walks

Looking for a great way to get some exercise?  Why not try walking?  Walking provides a number of health benefits, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.  There are many great places to walk in Waltham.  A few months ago, Healthy Waltham and the Waltham Land Trust got together to map out some walking routes in the city, and our new Waltham City Walks pamphlet was born.  The brainchild of Waltham Land Trust Program Director Sonja Wadman and Healthy Waltham Intern Caitlin Abber, Brandeis University 2013, the pamphlet outlines six urban walking routes in Waltham neighborhoods and along the bank of the Charles River.  We will be posting versions of the pamphlets translated into other languages as well.

The walking map can be downloaded here:

English Version-City Walks Map

Spanish Version-City Walks Map


Healthy Halloween Treats

by Irena Kats

Eating healthy during the Halloween season is not easy. It may seem hard to offer healthy Halloween treats to those cute, enthusiastic trick-or-treaters that come to your door in costume each year, especially when that candy is so enticing. But, as long as alternative treats are offered in a fun and exciting manner, kids are willing to make the switch. Thank you Irena Kats for these great Halloween treat ideas.  Irena is a member of the class of 2014 at Brandeis University. Irena is part of an Experiential Learning practicum, specifically the Nutrition Group, which is working with Healthy Waltham this semester to help kids learn to eat healthier foods.

It’s that time of year—the leaves are changing colors, the cooler air has come, and, of course, Halloween is here. As trick-or-treaters prepare to knock on your door, this year, try considering some fun and healthy treat alternatives. Instead of giving out chocolate or sugary candy, try some healthier options like dried fruit, granola bars, or pretzels. You can also try giving out non-food items such as stickers, play dough, and temporary tattoos.

Let’s compare typical candy given out on Halloween to a healthier option. For example, we randomly selected three of the “fun size” candy bars typically given out on Halloween, which is the stated serving size on the package. They contained 220 calories, 10 grams of fat (6 grams of which were saturated fat, or 30% of the recommended daily value for an adult) and 28 grams of sugar. Meanwhile, one 5/8 ounce package of cheese popcorn has 100 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, and 1gram of sugar. The mini bag of pretzels we looked at contained 110 calories, 1 gram of fat, and no saturated fat. These “frightful” numbers are enough to make any parent shudder at the “haunting” thought of their child gorging on candy bars.

At the recent Let’s Move Waltham event, “Waltham Walks at Stonehurst” on October 16, healthier Halloween options were given out and a survey of kids ages 4-10 was conducted on their favorite healthy choices. Popcorn was the clear winner in terms of food preference, with pretzels, Fig Newtons, animal crackers, and boxes of raisins coming in close thereafter. As for non food items, temporary Halloween themed tattoos proved the best of the bunch. Kids also really enjoyed whoopee cushions, vampire teeth, bubbles, and funny fake glasses. One of the most important trends we saw was that kids seemed excited by packages that they recognized. Their excitement also had a lot to do with how we promoted the treats. The more enthusiastic we were, the more enthusiastic they were. So, when giving out healthy treats, make sure to have lots of options, fun Halloween-themed presentation, and a smile on your face.

If you have kids and they bring home candy, it might be a good idea to set rules. For example, some parents choose to limit candy intake to only one per day. Another great idea is to donate the candy to organizations such as Operations Gratitude which sends care packages to troops overseas. Keep an eye out for other donation opportunities in your community.

Having a Halloween party is also a popular activity this time of year. Try serving healthier options such as baby carrots and cherry tomatoes. You can also try an alternative to a caramel apple by making a peanut butter dip for cut-up apple slices (see recipe that follows). Now all that’s left to do is picking out your own Halloween costume! Happy Halloween!

Fruity Peanut Butter Dip

1 medium apple, cored and quartered but not peeled

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup all natural peanut butter

1/3 cup orange juice

½ teaspoon cinnamon

In a food processor, chop one apple and cranberries.  In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, orange juice and cinnamon.  Stir apple/cranberry mixture into peanut butter mixture until combined.  Cover and refrigerate. Enjoy by dipping in apple slices!

For more recipe ideas, see http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.

A Wonderful Start to Fall

Stanley Elementary’s garden club has been having a really wild time gardening and looking for nice food to eat.  So far this season we have harvested pumpkins, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, mint, husk cherries, and oxalis. This week marked the time for tomatoes existing in the garden this season has ended. A new time of winter preparation was thought about as the old tomato stems were removed and the soil in the tomato beds were turned over. In order to make the garden a more level place, the Garden Club helpers dug up and leveled uneven areas of land. Then the kids went to the tomatoes and saw that they were beginning to be on their way out.At Chesterbrook Community Center it has been all about the tomatoes and raspberries.  There was a bed full of bright orange heirloom tomatoes were just ready to be eaten.  Elsewhere there were tomatoes and raspberry bushes that children collected and gave to each other.  Also the kids built a fence out of stakes fashioned out of branches and twine.  It was a really nice time that also involved a great deal of understanding. 

A Beautiful Day for a Walk

People of all ages came to historic Stonehurst on Sunday, October 16, for “Waltham Walks at Stonehurst,” an annual event organized by Stonehurst, Healthy Waltham, and the Waltham Land Trust.  Located atop a hill at the end of the winding Robert Treat Paine Drive off Beaver Street in Waltham, Stonehurst sits amidst 109 acres of beautiful conservation land. “This is an unexpected oasis in the middle of Waltham.  It was great to welcome everyone here to discover and enjoy this amazing property,” said Ann Clifford, Curator of Stonehurst.  “Waltham Walks at Stonehurst” is part of Let’s Move Waltham, a city-wide initiative to encourage healthful activities such as walking.  Attendees enjoyed an afternoon of exploring the forests, fields, rocks and hills surrounding the property; playing on the lawn; kids’ crafts; and just sitting and relaxing in the sun.

Diana Young, Vice-President of the Waltham Land Trust, led a walk along the Western Greenway Trail and through the Storer Conservation Lands, which surrounds the property. “We are always happy to show families how the Western Greenway Trail connects the High School, Middle School, and Northeast Elementary with the many paths of Stonehurst,” said Sonja Wadman, Program Director of the Waltham Land Trust. Ann Clifford of Stonehurst led another group to the historic ruins and artifacts nestled in the woods around the estate.  Kids’ crafts and halloween activities were led by students from Brandeis University.

The grounds around Stonehurst and the surrounding Storer Conservation Lands, overseen by the Waltham Conservation Commission, are open daily sunrise to sunset; maps are available at the door. Please see www.stonehurstwaltham.org for more information.  For more places to walk in Waltham, please check out the Waltham Land Trust at www.walthamlandtrust.org.