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Thetford Elementary School

Thetford, Vermont

 "Together Environmentally Sustainable"

Bluebirds artwork by Annie Hesser

TES School Garden News:

This year the school garden once again looks fantastic! Thank you to Cat Buxton and Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford for their help. The beds are filled with fantastic, colorful, healthy vegetables and herbs ready to be harvested. Sheila and Beth will once again be using as much of the harvest as they can in the school lunches.

Joette Hayashigawa, school nurse, explained that when it became a federal mandate to get nutrition into school lunches, she began to think about a school garden. At the beginning, Cat Buxton began to show up at school as a volunteer. She has just started working at Cedar Circle Farm. Hayashigawa and Buxton have
been working together ever since.

For the first three years, Cedar Circle Farm  donated Buxton’s time. Thankyou to CCF! Buxton has been on her own for the last three years. Initially there were several raised beds and only K-2 participated.

Kindergarten focuses on coloring, studying and planting seeds. Kindergarten also plants the rainbow garden and the sensory garden.

First Grade studies soil and plants a 3 sisters garden (corn, beans and squash) and studies the history of this garden in the Native American culture.

Second Grade studies insects (parts and functions), especially pollinators. K-2 starts and cares for seeds after spring break with indoor grow lights.

Third Grade did research to decide which varieties of berries to plant. The number of beds increased
when the cafeteria asked for more food. The school lunch beds were planted in accordance with
what the cafeteria can actually use.

The gardens have grown to include 13 raised beds, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, apple, peach and pear trees. There was a natural evolution to composting.

Fourth Grade study compost up close – how compost connects to climate
change, and they learn about new legislation. Fourth graders are also the tree stewards. They
have used GPS mapping and with help from the tree warden, have analyzed the condition of each
tree on the TES campus and are also developing a plan to care for the trees.

Fifth Grade does a lot of labor such as hanging garlic, selecting the largest heads for breeding. They harvest sweet potatoes. Fifth grade does instructional writing for how to grow potatoes, etc. There are many
gardening and composting lessons learned at TES that Buxton shares with other schools.

Sixth Grade manage the compost by taking the temperature, tracking data, and squeezing for water content.They are studying where water collects on campus.Buxton got a small grant for sixth grade teachers to use observation rings to track this data year
after year.

There is still a lot of potential. Buxton tries to help teachers tie their curricula to the gardens. Teachers are incorporating the gardens into project based learning. The children have learned to love labor, digging in the dirt and taking on real life problems.

Every year Hayashigawa writes grants to get Sheila Piper in the cafeteria a stipend to process the summer veggies for the school year. Piper keeps a list of the harvest. This year we will be actively seeking parent volunteers to assist in classroom garden-based activities, to mentor or to educate and especially to help maintain the garden during the summer. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Health Office. No amount of time will be considered too small!