BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – Central Elementary School in Bellows Falls is expanding their Farm to School programming by joining the Northeast Farm to School Institute this year.
In October, second graders took on leadership roles as they taught their peers about carrots. The students were wrapping up an ongoing project in which they harvested, researched, and painted carrots, and then presented what they learned to students in grades kindergarten through fourth. At the end of the week, Food Service Professional Erica Frank cooked up a carrot cake breakfast cookie as a special breakfast item highlighting carrots grown in the school garden.
This deep dive into project-based learning and authentic teaching is one example of the Farm to School programming at Central Elementary School. With support from Food Connects, a Brattleboro-based organization that supports Farm to School programming in schools, this Bellows Falls area school is the latest in Windham County to join the Northeast Farm to School Institute. The Institute, which runs from summer 2021 through summer 2022, is a year-long professional development opportunity Vermont FEED offers. It gives school teams the time and guidance to form a Farm to School Action Plan and decide how to implement Farm to School in their community. The Institute also provides schools with a grant and coaching to get their programs off the ground.
Last fall, students harvested vegetables, planted garlic, and prepared the garden for winter. Future plans include hosting farmers as guest speakers, expanding their growing capacity, and creating community through student-to-student teaching. Later this January, students will conduct taste tests with Vermont’s Harvest of the Month – the beet. And this work is already showing an impact. As 2nd-grade teacher Judy Verespy shared, “One way Farm To School has impacted our school thus far is generating excitement and interest in fuelling our bodies properly. I see students reading nutrition labels and bringing or choosing fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks more often!”
Vermont FEED supports so many schools with this program, and Chroma Technology sponsored Central Elementary’s attendance at the Institute this year.