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Our School and Community Garden

By
Tara Bellefontaine,   Henry P Clough
Play:
Topics:
Access to Healthy Foods, Community Involvement, Student Leadership,  Teamwork
Our School and Community Garden

Henry P. Clough Elementary school in Mendon, MA has participated in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program for quite a few years now. This year we are so excited to share the success of our Farm to School program. We started a school and community garden during the spring of 2015. A group of families came to the school over a weekend and created 6 large beds and planted our first vegetables. From there, our students planted seeds, watched them grow and when they were ready transplanted them into the garden. Classes would come out to water the garden and weed as necessary. During the summer months, the community rallied around the garden and volunteered their time to come water, weed and harvest. As vegetables were ready for picking, the community members would often times donate them to the local senior center. During school days our students are randomly chosen to participate in harvesting, weighing and delivering to our cafeteria. The students will try vegetables right off the vine and can’t wait to tell their family and friends about what they saw, smelled, tasted and learned about in our garden. Our garden started off with 6 beds and has now been expanding to 8 with one very long bed for watermelon and pumpkins as well as a Tower Garden that was donated by a family. The Tower Garden is proudly displayed in our cafeteria where it grows lettuce, spinach, kale and herbs for use in the salad bar and sauces. What started off as a small fun project is now a huge thriving program with students participating in before school enrichment classes just to be able to help in the garden. More students and staff now purchase salads from our Fuel Up to Play 60 salad bar. If students help grow it they are more likely to eat it and we have certainly seen that come true.

How did students and adults work together as a team?

Adults and students worked together to establish the garden. Now they work together weekly to weed, water and care for the school garden. Students and their families care for the garden during the summer break as well.

How do you plan to make this Play last during the school year and beyond?

The garden is sustainable with the proper harvest and storage of vegetable seeds. With the help of our local farm, Greener Acres, we have manure and compost delivered yearly and work with the Mendon Greenhouse for information and seeds to start the garden. Both local business are very helpful and grateful for having the opportunity to help us.

What improvements have you seen at your school?

Increased consumption of fresh vegetables. Students and staff are more apt to purchase from our Fuel Up to Play 60 school salad bar than in previous years. If they grow it they will eat it.