Students and staff at The Schoolhouse on Catkin Drive have spent the fall reveling in the season’s bounty. In the garden and at the farm, the children have been active in harvesting, preparing, and donating food.
Earlier this fall, three Schoolhouse classrooms, including preschool and elementary students, gleaned end of season vegetables and fruits to donate to organizations, which serve people affected by food insecurity.
“These young students really understood that their efforts would help families who could not go to the grocery and get what they want or need,” said Amy Carlson, head teacher of The Schoolhouse Wild Grape classroom. “I love that kids, as young as they are, can do something tangible to help,”
The kindergarten and first grade Alpha class spent part of the fall collecting non-perishable foods. Teacher Nari Penson described the scene when they delivered 176 pounds of donations to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.
“As the students loaded the food from their bags onto the scale, their eyes were wide with delight,” Penson said. “They were so proud of themselves. As they left the food shelf, they were chanting, ‘Everybody deserves to have enough food!’”
The school’s annual Harvest Lunch provided a capstone to the fall activities with over 150 students, parents, friends, and staff gathering to celebrate. The meal was an all-school effort as everyone from two-year-olds to eighth graders had a hand in the preparation.
Leading up to the annual lunch, students picked tomatoes, basil, and garlic at the Bread and Butter Farm, the school’s farm partner. Later, they made their harvest into marinara, pesto, and gnocchi for the celebration. Students also harvested onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, and a variety of squashes to be roasted. Meanwhile, the preschoolers brought a school bus-load of apples from Shelburne Orchards and transformed them into hand pressed apple cider and homemade apple crumble.
As diners were enjoying their meal, the preschool sang their daily gratitude song. The lyrics include, “Thank you to the seeds and the soil and the rain, thank you to the farmers again and again.”
“We think it is important that our students learn to be thankful for the effort that goes into getting food from the farm to their plates,” said The Schoolhouse Preschool Co-director Annette Urbschat. “The song’s closing lines remind us all of our community responsibility and encourages us to think beyond ourselves, ‘May all beings have full bellies and happiness.’”