Ten Upper Valley schools and day care facilities have been awarded $500 mini-grants to support farm-to-school projects this year! These grants are designed to help schools, afterschool programs, or school-related wellness programs with projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption at the school. Applications were accepted through March 12.
Look at the great plans these educators shared with us in their applications!
Tammie’s Day Care, Thetford Center, VT – Where does our food come from?
Tammie Hazlett: For the purchase of a CSA share to use in my early childhood home program. Nutrition and cooking have been a major part of my program. Unfortunately, with COVID, cooking in my program is no longer a group activity and I expect that will be the case for most of the coming year. In lieu of cooking my plan is to allow my children to pick something out of each week’s produce box. We will then learn about the growing process, harvesting, determine what food group it belongs to and learn all the different ways we can process the food. We will figure out how we want to prepare that item to eat and it will become part of our meal. I am hoping that with the size of this share that I will be able to make things like jams, dilly beans, stewed tomatoes, and pickles from zucchini or cucumbers to send home with the recipes to my families as well.
Stoneledge Stables Norwich, VT – Three Sisters Garden Expansion
Sandy Bailey: During the spring of 2021, we are looking to expand our Three Sisters Garden curriculum by finishing the plant life cycle that students participate in during the fall of 2020. During that time frame, students in our three day farm school harvested corn and squash(beans were harvested early in the season without students due to COVID). We also used the corn stalks for building and nature based art on the farm. We were excited to donate over 20lbs of squash to Willing Hands. Our goal as a classroom community is to triple our donation of food harvested by the fall of 2021. We are in need of expanding our garden footprint, buying curriculum supplies and soil. Stoneledge Stables strives to foster caring communities by laying a foundation within our youngest citizens necessary to work as both individuals and members of a greater circle. We are in need of community support in this endeavor.
Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School, Lyme, NH – Multi Tiered Raised Bed Installation
Blythe Keane: For years now Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School has been fostering a love of farm and food in our classrooms. We include within our curriculum lessons on the importance of different types of foods and how incredibly vital our farmers are to our communities. Further, we strive to teach our students the joy, pride and science of growing their own food. In the spring we start seeds in the classroom and then transplant them out into our small garden. We have found our garden space to be a barrier to this process and wish to both expand this learning and switch it up a bit. We are looking for funding to purchase a multi-tiered raised bed structure.
There are a couple of motivations for this particular system. First off we have a wide range of heights within our student population and the tier structure will allow us to designate space to age groups. Secondly, we have seen first hand that little ones have a tough time not stepping on freshly planted rows and therefore raised beds offer a really effective method of planting for this age group. Thirdly, while we are all about natural materials we also see the value in this composite board system in that it will last much longer than rough sawn boards…we really want our/your investment to last as long as possible. Lastly, we are looking into moving to Vermont! Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School is likely moving to a new location.
Child Care Center in Norwich, Norwich, VT – KidsGarden Creation
Lisa Sjostrom: We plan to install a brand new “KidsGarden” consisting of six raised garden beds, surrounding fencing and a garden gate. Each classroom in our playschool community will have its own garden bed. Classroom teachers, children and their families will design, mulch, plant, tend and harvest the beds, giving children the chance to reap countless benefits.
Benefits: Gardening engages all five senses; enhances fine motor development; encourages healthy eating; requires responsibility (e.g., watering, weeding); regulates moods; connects children to farmers; promotes stewardship of the earth; creates a beautiful environment for learning and playing.
Rather than purchase pre-made raised beds, we plan to hire a local carpenter to tailor-design the beds for our sloped property.
Note: KidsGarden is part of a larger “green” initiative at our Center. For instance, we are hiring a part-time “chef” to prepare healthy snacks with foods from our farm share/CSA with a local farm and to do basic cooking with our children, age 2 and up. “
Samuel Morey Elementary School, Fairlee, VT – Planning for Refurbished Raised beds and developing a school compost program
Steven Lindemann: I am in my second year as Principal of Samuel Morey School, and I want to use the mini-grant to pay for consultation from Cat Buxton to help us assess the best use of the land for raised beds, gardens, and a school compost program. My goal is to have our school have a vibrant garden and compost program like the one she helped set up at Thetford Elementary School. Jamie Bourn, our Director of Facilities and Operations, is on board to help me make our long term plan a reality. We need the expertise of Cat Buxton (and others) to help us get started efficiently and to help us create a sustainable system for maintaining gardens and composting.
Woodstock Union High School, Woodstock, VT – Farm to Table at Woodstock Union High School
Kat Robbins: Woodstock Union High School focuses on developing our farm to table program and educating teachers and students on how to live a healthy sustainable lifestyle. This year we have been specifically focusing on production and growth of our outdoor garden. Students have been making plans and developing new strategies to increase the food production in our high school and middle school. Throughout the years students have grown and harvested vegetables and herbs from our garden to be used in the cafeteria for breakfasts and lunches. We would like to draw more attention to the garden. This mini grant will allow us to buy more supplies and increase the use of our gardens. We specifically would like to purchase more top soil and compost materials, new hoses to expand our irrigation system, shovels, row cover, and broad forks. Our main goal is to purchase a broad fork. We would like to start to utilize cover cropping as we move toward a no-till system. With this new broad fork we can incorporate nitrogen and carbon back into the soil, and help with weed and pest control. The rest of this grant will then be evenly distributed to purchase the other supplies and equipment needed to expand our garden. This money will be greatly appreciated and really help us advance our agriculture program, specifically our school gardens and their production of foods for the cafeteria.
The Hooper Institute, Walpole, NH – From A(asparagus) to Z (zinnias) in the Walpole Area School Gardens
Helen Dalbeck: In Walpole, NH we have three schools and in each schoolyard, the Hooper Institute educators have raised beds (34 total) growing vegetables, soft fruit, flowers, and herbs for the school kitchen and for the lessons we teach weekly in each grade Pre K – Sixth. The Hooper Institute is an education institute devoted to teaching the youth of Walpole in five subject areas; agriculture, forestry, soils, botany and environmental science. The students and teachers work side by side with the Hooper to plan the gardens, spread compost and repair the beds, sow seeds, weed, mulch, and water. Our produce is organically grown with the no-till method and delivered fresh to the school kitchen and to local families in need via a summer school lunch program and the Fall Mt. Food Shelf. On the middle school site we have a high tunnel, currently growing spinach and winter greens. We will use those beds to plant seeds for our seedlings and for extra cut flowers. The zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers and marigolds were a much loved addition to the gardens last year, especially by the teachers and school staff. With your help, I would be thrilled to have more varieties, colors, cultivars and meet the goal of getting back to the basics with the alphabet challenge, from A to Z.
P.S. Here is our alphabet challenge: asparagus, beans/basil, cabbage/corn, dill, ENERGY, fennel, garlic chives, HIGH TUNNEL, INTENTION, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, lettuce, marigolds, needs (turnips), onions, pumpkins/potatoes, QUESTIONS, radish, sage, tomato, UNDERSTANDING, VEGETABLES, winter squash, X marks the spot, yarrow and zinnias.
Upper Valley Waldorf School, Quechee, VT – School Garden Bed Preparation + Plant Protection
Peter Gile: A mini-grant would provide needed upgrades to prepare four garden beds (each 4 x 8 ft) at UVWS for student planting, observation, and production over the 2021 growing season. The beds are a place of engagement for all of our 125 students, from Early Childhood – Grade 8, who come from dozens of towns in the Upper Valley. Through academic instruction as well as summer camp programming, the garden is a natural learning space. Subjects such as botany, horticulture, art, cooking, and the pleasures of eating, to name a few, can be explored and deepened there. In the past, we have facilitated annual farm trips for our grades students. However, due to Covid safety guidelines, we are not able to do so this year. Growing a garden onsite would help us bring at least some of the experience to our doorstep. The garden beds are already established, and we have identified donors who are willing to provide seeds and plant starts, but are hoping for the following to help fertilize and protect the plants once established. Hardware cloth, Fertilizer, posts for trellising, fence wire, miscellaneous items as needed such as student harvesting knives, plant labels, etc.
Hanover Street School, Lebanon, NH – Hanover Street School Garden Raised Bed Expansion
Maggie MacArthur-McKay: Hanover Street Elementary School has had an active school garden for the past 5 five years, involving students in grades K-4 in lessons ranging from plant life cycles, vegetable production, to the importance of pollinator friendly habitat creation and maintenance. For the 2020 season, with the help of primarily 4th graders, the garden, comprised of 8 raised beds, produced 60 lbs of potatoes, 25 lbs of carrots and an abundance of kale, basil, cherry tomatoes and lettuce. Due to the pandemic shutting down school in March, the root crops were donated to Listen Food Pantry. In prior years, our cafeteria has integrated school garden produce into lunch menus.
This year, Hanover Street School garden team would like to add several raised beds to our garden area, with the intent of increasing root crop yield to be donated to Listen Food Pantry and used in our summer food delivery program. These partnerships will help keep our students fed over the summer, during a time when many families are experiencing new or worsening food insecurity. Additionally, two of the beds would be used to relocate and expand our sensory garden, which, in its first year last year, was a big hit among our intensive and special needs population in particular.
Students will be involved in gardening activities during recess (4th grade), science class (3rd grade), and SEL time (1st grade). Currently, 5 teachers have expressed interest in student involvement with the garden this year: one 1st grade teacher, two 3rd grade teachers, one 4th grade teacher and one 2nd grade teacher. Our ELL and Intensive Needs teachers have also expressed interest in engaging their students in garden projects, and have been involved over the past several years. One member of the Garden Team will be available to run garden lessons and activities, and will have support from one of our reading teachers.
Our Garden Coordinator, plans to share with family and staff a Summer Garden Care sign-up, and will be available 1-2 afternoons/week throughout the summer to work with community members in the school garden.
Sharon Elementary School, Sharon, VT – Raising More Veggies with Raised Beds
Keenan Haley: Sharon Elementary School was one of the pilot schools in 2005 for the farm-to-school program FEED (Food Education Every Day). It has been part of our curriculum since. Each class (grades K-6) currently has a raised bed, and the entire school has a large garden – planted and tended by students and their families. Our food service manager incorporates the garden harvest into our breakfast and lunch menus. We would like to create raised beds for the school garden as productivity is superior. The budget would include raised bed building material, soil and compost to fill them, cold frame building material to extend the season, seeds to plant, and new garden tools (clippers, rakes, watering cans).