Students, teachers, school garden coordinators, and school nutrition staff from Manchester School in RUS 14 along with representatives from The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry and the Maine Department of Education participated in a day of activities to celebrate growing, harvesting and eating local food on Monday November 4th.
The event included education about the importance of local food and the relationship schools are developing with local farmers to provide fresh, quality fruits, vegetables, and produce to Maine schools. Students worked with recently harvested carrots from their school garden to prep, cook, and sample fresh carrot curry soup and carrot muffins.
A fixture at the Manchester School for the past 20 years, the School Garden has become a big part of the community providing fresh produce for the school nutrition program, local shelters, as well as students, staff, and community members who provide a helping hand in keeping the garden going.
To optimizing the growing season, the Garden features a hoop house and raised beds that allow students and school staff to grow fresh produce for almost the entire year-round. The Garden is also rooted in the curriculum, providing a bases for many lessons from science to English, and community development. “The learning continues even though we’re not out in the soil,” said Stacy Sanborn, 4th Grade Teacher and School Garden Coordinator. Staff members from the Manchester School wrote grants and utilized local volunteers, and local experts to put the hoop house in place, and it has been a huge success for them.
It was an exciting day of activities drawing TV cameras and photographers to capture students happily engaged in chopping, cooking, and learning for the very purpose of celebrating a moment that is quickly moving across Maine. The Manchester School in Windham is one of the more than 400 Maine schools that participate in a farm-to-school program.
The collaboration between the Department of Education and The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry continues this fall. The two departments are producing a series of public service announcements to showcase how more Maine farms can establish relationships and sell their produce to Maine schools.
For more information about the Farm-to-School Program, please visit this website.