Greens Farms Academy’s New Seed to Table Program

Garden-based education at Greens Farms Academy has recently expanded through its Seed to Table program. The program is now fully integrated into the Lower School curriculum and is steadily trickling up to the Middle and Upper Schools. Seed to Table inspires students to develop meaningful connections with the world around them through explorations in the garden, experiences with food, and investigating the many natural communities that surround the school. GFA makes the most of its backyard, including a salt marsh, beach, and Audubon woodland trails. In pairing edible education with these outdoor classrooms, students learn unique lessons theming environmental literacy, culture and global connections, creativity, and community. During the summer months, the program reaches preK-8th grade students from schools in Bridgeport, CT through Horizons National. Horizons students gain experiences that bring them closer to nature while learning strategies for better health and nutrition.

A highlight this year was when fifth graders harvested, threshed, winnowed, and milled their own wheat to make bread that they shared with their kindergarten buddies. Other Lower School successes include harvesting sea salt, building a sunflower house, exploring the scientific method with bean plants, and pickling for food preservation. Major plantings on school grounds have included 12 native trees and a native meadow to attract pollinators. Produce from the garden goes directly into school lunch and lessons involving cooking have produced fun projects like metric crepe day and harvesting GFA apples to make cider. To bring it full circle, GFA composts scraps from the kitchen to put nutrients back into the garden. The Lower School even has its own compost tumbler in the courtyard.

Seed to Table is growing minds, building confidence, and inspiring students to become impactful members of their community.

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One thought on “Greens Farms Academy’s New Seed to Table Program

  1. At Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich Ct the spring semester in science is spent sowing seeds, preparing beds, learning about the value of compost and pollinators, and finally planning and planting a vegetable garden . With the help of science teachers, fourteen raised beds are planted with a variety of vegetables to be harvested and enjoyed throughout the season. Lettuce, spinach and peas are planted early so before the girls leave for the summer they can enjoy the fruits of their labor at the annual “Salad Party,” when the entire fifth grade harvests the greens, slathers them with dressing and enjoys the first crops of the season down in the garden. As summer marches on, the garden is abundant with zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers and herbs, and care of the garden is turned over to the Summer Academy. Each day the children help weed, water, and harvest, enjoying their bounty at lunch and learning that food does not only come from the grocery store! Staff members, working diligently throughout the summer, are encouraged to enjoy the long walk down to the garden and hopefully bring home something fresh and delicious for dinner! The garden thrives throughout the summer because of the combined efforts of our caring maintenance staff, and the Summer Academy students with the help of their teachers.
    Though the vegetable garden is primarily a fifth and sixth grade project, students at all levels have projects growing and thriving there throughout the year. Lower school classes can often be found in the garden, be it the fourth grade studying the ecosystem of the garden, the third grade learning about red worms and their value in the compost bin, first grade planting nectar flowers for butterflies or our kindergarten students exclaiming in delight as they pick giant pumpkins for their classrooms in October. Our second grade classes help maintain a milkweed patch as part of their science unit on Monarch butterflies. As a result of their efforts the garden is a recognized “Monarch Way Station” providing shelter and food for Monarch caterpillars that are threatened by over development and habitat loss. In the upper school, the Science and Society class has planted fall crops, and Biology classes can be found collaborating with the second grade on their Monarch project.
    The goal of our school garden is to help feed our community, foster the relationships between our students, faculty and staff by sharing the fruits of our hard work and to instill in our students an appreciation for the wonder of our natural world, so dramatically apparent in the growing cycle from seed to plant. The excitement and pride the girls take as they return in September as sixth graders is clearly evident as they watch the seeds they planted become a nutritious meal shared with our community at lunch, or receive a thank you from faculty and staff, after we share our final harvest at a “Farm Market” in the faculty and staff dining room. A Goal in our mission states, “The school teaches respect for creation and prepares students to be stewards of the earth’s resources.” The Patricia McKean Garden here at Sacred Heart allows our students to fulfill this goal with enthusiasm and a sense of pride, not to mention a healthy dose of vegetables!

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