Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In the news

Every once in a while we like to feature inspirational Farm to School work from around the state. Patricia DiPasquale, Paraprofessional for Somerville Public School, recently visited the Life Skills class at Haverhill High School. Below she shares her observations.

Students in the Life Skills class at Haverhill High School are now learning more about how their food gets from the farm to their table.

Handicapped accessible garden bed

This year Nancy Burke, one of the paraprofessionals working with Haverhill High’s Life Skills students, received funding from a Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) Farm to School grant. Through the grant, the Life Skills students now have a school garden where they can grow their own vegetables, harvest them, and cook delicious recipes in their classroom.
Using a plot of land outside that was covered with weeds, Burke helped to create a handicapped accessible garden for her students to use. There is a handicapped ramp, along with a raised garden bed to allow the students in wheelchairs to have access to the garden and be able to help plant the seeds, and harvest them in the spring and the fall.
Using every inch of available space
The raised garden bed and some benches were built for the students by a local boy scout group. All the soil for the garden was donated by the High School when they decided to replace the soil on the football field with Astroturf. The shop instructor, Dan Hickey,  is now in the process of building a small shed so the students can store their garden tools in it.
Harvesting a carrot

Another raised bed
I was lucky enough to be able to visit their classroom on Tuesday, September 30th. I had the chance to meet many of the students. On the day I visited, they were getting ready to make Texas Caviar using ingredients of fresh herbs and vegetables that came from their garden. I watched one student do an outstanding job chopping fresh peppers to add to the caviar. Many of his other classmates were also busy chopping the remaining ingredients that included tomatoes, jalapeƱo peppers, and cilantro.
After all the vegetables and herbs were chopped, it was time to open up some cans of black eyed peas and shoe peg corn to add to their caviar. The students did a great job working together to get their Texas Caviar made so that everyone could sample some of it. Everyone who had the opportunity to taste the caviar, myself included, thought that it was delicious! I even suggested to Nancy that the class invest in some mason jars and bottle it to sell! The funds from the sales could go to maintaining, and expanding the garden.
These students are very lucky to have a learning garden they can call their own, which will certainly help them learn more about farming and where their food comes from before it gets to the supermarket. Kudos to Nancy Burke for getting this underway for her students. For more information and photos about this program read more here and here.
Content provided by Patricia DiPasquale, Paraprofessional Somerville Public Schools


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