The personal learning network for educators
HARVEST OF DREAMS
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has….. Margaret Mead
When we first brainstormed the idea of a schoolyard community garden back in 2002, Paula Cassidy (former Warren School principal) and I (former 6th grade teacher; presently Elementary Wellness Teacher and Educational Technologist) wanted the garden to be a way for making connections to food and to the environment, community, and curriculum. It’s been growing strong for over 10 years and still very much on track.
Our school may be small with just under 100 students K-6, but we are mighty. From the onset, students, staff, families and community of Warren pulled together to create the garden. The 3 main beds are constructed from discarded concrete road barriers from a nearby town. Instead of being in the way, the old rusted swing sets located on the garden site were transformed into stable and useful garden trellises. Our garden came full circle with a rain barrel and compost. “Compost Cops” (fifth grade) help younger students compost their uneaten lunch. The oldest students, the sixth graders, lead the way in coordinating the planning and planting of the garden, teaching garden lessons to the younger students, and preparing and hosting our annual Harvest Luncheon in the fall. Other celebrations include submitting prize winning veggies to the local fair and our annual whole school cook-off. Some of our show-downs have been a Zucchini Bread Bake-Off, Taste of Tomatoes, Chili Cook-Off, Paula’s Poppin’ Peppers, Anthony’s Aromatic Herbs—just to name a few. Judges come from throughout the town and district to help determine which class prepared the best dish. We have found that a garden provides endless possibilities.
While the students and teachers get the garden growing each year, it’s the students and their families that keep the garden growing throughout the summer. Families sign-up to maintain the garden for 1 week throughout the summer vacation. They water, weed, harvest and transport the vegetables. All the produce grown throughout the summer is donated to local soup kitchens and food banks. Each year we have been able to donate over 150 pounds of fresh, nutritious organic produce. Our garden has been a wonderful way for the children of our community to become stewards of not only the environment, but in helping others as well.
Harvest of Dreams has become such a positive part of our school culture. It connects across all curriculums; math, science, social studies, language arts, music, art……The curriculum connections are endless. The life skills obtained along with the sense of accomplishment are priceless. And, these connections are authentic, real world, whole child based. I find it difficult to ask for anything else from a school wide project.
If you are ever in the small town of Warren, CT, we would love to provide a tour of our garden. You will discover for yourself that “Warren School is a great place to grow!”