The Westshire Elementary School students were eagerly awaiting spring planting time. Last year’s gardens were just a big beautiful memory when we gathered together this spring. In June we built our raised beds and proved we could grow vegetables in them. This year we wanted to learn about starting and transplanting seeds so we decided to enlist a local farmer, Janet Taylor, from Crossroad Farm. Many of our students’ families buy produce and flowers there so the students already had a connection to Janet and what she does at the farm. With the help from our farm-to-school mini-grant, Janet came to a special assembly one afternoon in early April. She talked to us about what seeds need to grow and how to plant them. The kids loved looking at the seed samples she passed around. Some seeds were huge and some could barely be seen as they were so tiny. She showed us examples of plants that were just peeking up out of the trays and larger plants that she had planted several weeks before. She also demonstrated how to transplant seedlings into larger pots. Janet left us a whole tray of marigold seedlings which we transplanted into bigger pots and gave to our mothers for Mother’s Day and to the Kindergarten families who will be joining us next year. After we listened and asked great gardening questions, we all went to our classroom stations and planted trays of seeds in potting soil donated by Vermont Compost. We planted sunflowers, broccoli, cucumbers, oregano, parsley, and all types of yummy veggies. We look forward to our fall harvest thanks to support from our community, Crossroad Farm, and Vital Communities. We learn more from each other every year and this information helps to empower our students to be connected to their school and community! – Jen Shatney, Volunteer, Westshire Elementary School, West Fairlee, VT
The Tunbridge Central School held their second annual “Garden Day” on Thursday, May 28. Students and teachers celebrated and enjoyed TCS’s Farm to School program by getting their hands dirty and working together in the school gardens all afternoon. We appreciate support from Upper Valley Farm to School mini-grant program for funding a variety of garden supplies such as tools, plants, and mulch for this special event. To kick off Garden Day, students enjoyed a delicious lunch of local foods including pulled pork sandwiches and sloppy joes with local meats from Back Beyond Farm and Howvale Farm, caprese salad and salsa (made by grades 6 & 7) with tomatoes from Long Wind Farm, potato salad with potatoes from Chapelle’s Vermont Potatoes, yogurt from Stonyfield Organic, and a salad of mesclun greens from Tunbridge Hill Farm. After lunch, all students from grades K to 8 were divided into teams where they weeded, spread compost and planted in the gardens, made scarecrows, went for a hike, did trail work, pruned and mulched bushes and plants, and cleaned up tree limbs that blew over in the previous day’s storm. Teams of student photographers also recorded the day’s work with cameras in hand. A quick passing rainstorm sent everyone inside a little early, but many students were back out planting and pruning as soon as possible after the storm passed. Finally, each student potted and took home their own marigold, and all enjoyed popsicles at the end of the day. Thank you to all the teachers and volunteers who invested so much time and enthusiasm into creating a successful Garden Day for TCS students. There’s still a lot of work to do, but what a rewarding start to the gardening season! – Jen Thygesen, Farm to School Coordinator, Tunridge Elementary School, Tunbridge, VT
What is the buzz all about at Maple Avenue Elementary School in Claremont, NH? The pollinator garden! Students in Mrs. Tetu’s 4th grade class learned about various pollinators and the critical roll they fulfill. These junior gardeners researched the parts of the plant and the optimal plants for our region. Beebalm, coneflower, phlox, and more were added to an existing garden by the students to form a pollen paradise. – Skylar Tetu, Teacher, Maple Avenue, School, Claremont, NH
Hartland Elementary School is very pleased and excited to show what we have been doing with our mini-grant from UVFTS. We came up with the idea of starting a hydroponics garden and quickly realized that to get it started we really needed to do a lot of research. We have started off small, but since we now have the set up, we are looking forward to making it bigger each year. The students were in charge of the lighting set up, the filtration system, the chemical balance and the planting of the seeds. At this point we have some very healthy looking lettuce and our other vegetables are going to need time to mature, but they are looking very healthy and we look forward to the day when we can pick and eat. This has been a really fun endeavor for all of my students, K-8. – Mary Bojko, Health Educator, Hartland Elementary School, Hartland, VT
At the Ledyard Charter School our classroom greenhouse has been a great success. A variety of students have been able to chip in and help with the chores and planning and learn about self sufficiency and food security through season extension techniques. This is the second year of our greenhouse program and we are refining our craft. This year we have been able to start over 50 tomato plants from seed starting at the end of February! Many other veggies, including various herbs and flowers have started to come up and decorate our school and improve the air quality in our little classroom.
Recently we took all of the involved students on a field trip to the permaculture educational homestead, D Acres. At D Acres Josh Trout taught our students alternative techniques used in permaculture to make our landscape work for us. We are very appreciative of everything the Farm to School mini-grant has allowed us to do and we hope to grow this tradition further in the years to come. – Matt Stuart, Teacher, Ledyard Charter School, Lebanon, NH