The Chilmark School is small, but mighty when it comes to garden-based learning and healthy eating. Every student takes part in gardening activities, from growing sprouts in sunny classroom windows to hold math class in the school garden. They grow crops for their summer and fall community lunches, and learned about the complex connections among farms, people, and the natural world through creating farm food webs. Teachers integrate lessons on biology, measurement, and the scientific method in their garden projects. In the after school garden club, students can continue their garden exploration. Throughout the summer, the school community maintains a student-run farm stand in the garden to sell the summer’s harvest and help raise funds for garden supplies for next school year. Chilmark’s unique community lunch program helps students try new foods, experience the social benefits of shared mealtime, and engages the broader community in garden and food based learning, while providing an inspiring example of what school meals can be. Each month, a local chef works with students from each grade to prepare a meal for the entire school, using all locally sourced ingredients. School meals at Chilmark have improved greatly since 2012, when hot meals were first introduced. Delivered daily via the new West Tisbury School kitchen, these meals give students, staff and families access to a viable, local and seasonal foods-based lunch option.
Elizabeth Cecil, Randi Baird, Claire LaFave and Emma Scudder