May 4, 2011

April 2011 Island Grown Schools Report

April has been a wonderful and busy month for Island Grown Schools, with all of the school gardens bursting to life, greenhouses overrun with seedlings, and classes from almost every school spending time visiting island farms. Here are a few April highlights: School garden-grown produce is making its way into lunch rooms already: Edgartown is enjoying fresh pea shoots and greens from their greenhouse, West Tisbury has added purple asparagus from their garden into their new salad bar, and everyone is excited to start eating more student-grown produce from right outside the cafeteria doors! In March and April, Oak Bluffs School IGS Coordinator Erin Haggerty led an eighth grade enrichment unit on healthy cooking and nutrition. As a culmination of what they had learned together, Erin's students made dinner for almost 50 people, including Principal Carlin Hart and Superintendent James Weiss, of miso soup, chili, corn bread and kale & beet chips. When Mr. Hart asked one of Erin's students what made miso so nutritious, she explained: Miso contains antioxidants, which combat the free radicals in the body that contribute to cancer and other diseases. He was impressed, and Erin was proud! At Edgartown School, the kindergarteners worked with IGS Coordinator Melinda DeFeo to plant Crackerjack Marigolds as part of their Dr. Seuss study in conjunction with his environmental tale "The Lorax". These tall colorful orange, yellow & gold flowers provided terrific discussion on how we can help take care of our planet by growing beneficial plants and taking care of the water & soil. garden cleaningOn the last day of April, the West Tisbury School community came together for their annual spring Garden Day. Grandparents, students, parents, faculty, staff, and recently returned (and greatly missed) Principal Michael Halt all joined in the work and play of getting the garden cleaned up for spring, moving load after load of compost, mulch, and weed-snuffing cardboard into the well-used school garden. Kudos to Kindergarten teacher Teri Mello and Victoria Phillips for spearheading a wonderful event! More from each school below. But first, we have many people to thank for their generous contributions to IGS this month, including:
  • Pat and Sandy Burt of Automatic Lawn Sprinklers of Martha's Vineyard for donating time, materials, and labor to install an irrigation system for the school garden at Oak Bluffs;
  • Morning Glory Farm for donating a truckload of compost to each of our school gardens;
  • Oak Bluffs parent Brian Packish and the good folks at John Keene Excavation for picking up and delivering the compost to all of our schools;
  • Mike and the whole team at Heather Gardens for donating seedlings and greenhouse advice for our gardens;
  • Eagle Scout Dylan Rice for the wonderful tool shed and benches he made for the Edgartown School greenhouse;
  • Parent and chef Robert Lionette for donating his time and talent as a chef and cooking inspiration for the Local Lunch series at Chilmark School this year;
  • Wayne and all at Hinckley's for donating the wood for the Tisbury School garden expansion.
And, please save the following dates for up-coming IGS events:
  • Please join us for the Oak Bluffs School Garden Celebration on Saturday June 4th from 1-3pm at the OB School garden. We will do garden projects, eat locally grown snacks, raffle off some special prizes, and enjoy a great day with the school community;
  • Reserve your spot now for our second fundraising dinner at State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury, which will take place on Sunday June 5th. Last year's dinner was a great success, with all seats selling out and a 10-course meal (made with almost all local ingredients) to remember! For more information, contact Noli at, or stop into State Road.
And now, more reports from each of our schools: Oak Bluffs: Coordinator Erin Haggerty is now working with another 8th grade enrichment group to design garden-based activities that the 8th graders can lead for 1st grade students. The older and younger students collected milk cartons from the cafeteria, planted sunflowers and peas in them, and will bring the sunflowers home and plant the peas in the garden. Meanwhile, the kindergarteners are heading to island farms. In late April, Ms. Davey's kindergarten class and Ms. Berube's 2nd grade students went to the FARM Institute with the MVRHS Leadership class, and Ms. Graber's K class is scheduled for the same trip next month. Charter School: IGS Coordinator Rachael Curtin is working with a classes at the Charter School to plant potatoes and talk about the plant's important role in history. Karin Nelson is getting her class excited for the Three Sisters garden (bean, corn and squash, a traditional Native American planting scheme) they will be planting with Rachael this spring. The school is also preparing for a tomato seedling sale later in the season, with tomatoes up and growing in the greenhouse stay tuned for the sale date! greenhouseEdgartown: This month at Edgartown School, the new greenhouse has really come to life. Students are working with IGS Coordinator Melinda DeFeo to grow pea shoots & sunflower sprouts for the cafeteria salad bar. Warm weather crops such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are growing and the students have just completed transplanting the tomatoes to larger pots to await the last frost before planting them out in the garden beds. The second grade has planted their peas! This year, one class planted early in the greenhouse and the other directly in the garden. We hope to see which does better at foiling the birds who love to each the seeds along with the young sprouts. One class also has seed a salad bed to grow under the pea trellis. Third graders are preparing to launch their Colonial Garden activities in the next few days, they will be planting herbs in the greenhouse, popcorn and broom corn this year. The industrious fifth graders have been out each week to assist wherever they can. So far they have moved a lot of compost into the garden boxes, corn field and potato patch. Thanks to our generous friends at Heather Gardens, they have also been preparing new beds for rhubarb and daylilies along with potting up a couple hundred bear root strawberries for our June plant sale. The purple asparagus the sixth grade class planted last year is sprouting and we'll have our first taste soon. Meanwhile the potatoes and leeks have arrived and await their assistance to get growing. Other sixth graders along with seventh and eighth grade students have been painting signs during their weekly elective time on Fridays. This week they are signing up for community service in the garden and will be acting as garden mentors as well as carry out the very important job of soil testing. The after school Garden Club has been very active over the last month. Although rain has been a challenge, they have learned about soil conservation and the ins & outs of factory food production through role playing games. They are the work horses of the program and get lots of work done... In the cafeteria this month, Gina has been cleaning out the freezer of last fall's gleanings from Morning Glory Farm and the school garden. The last of the students blue cornmeal made a couple more batches of cornbread, and corn-on-the-cob was spotted on trays last week. Everyone loves the Zuppa Toscano, Gina makes with the summer squash and there is never any zucchini bread at the end of the day! West Tisbury School: IGS coordinator Nicole Cabot has been busy bringing groups of students to island farms for field trips. Maggie Chianese's 1stand 2nd grade class visited Mermaid Farm and Native Earth Teaching Farm, Michelle Mayhew's 1st graders visited Flat Point Farm and Native Earth Teaching Farm, and both classes are planning a field trip with Nicole to the FARM Institute in coming weeks. Melinda from Edgartown School also joined Nicole to lead a felting lesson in Maggie's classroom, using wool from island sheep. Nicole is also working with a team of parents around the school lunch contract and the concept of expanding the kitchen at West Tisbury School so lunches can be prepared on-site. Nicole joined IGS Program Coordinator Noli Taylor at an Up Island School Committee meeting this month to discuss the parents and students visions and goals for making school lunch even better. For more information or to get involved in this process, please contact Nicole, lunchChilmark School: Chilmark School enjoyed the last of their series of six Community Lunches, made with almost all island grown ingredients by parent/chef Robert Lionette and his team of Chilmark student/chefs. Congratulations to all the students, parents, faculty and school staff, and town administrators for making this series of lunches so special, so memorable, and so delicious, and huge thanks to Robert for all his delicious hard work. The students have been busy working with IGS coordinator Lizzy Bradley in the school garden. They worked together on a garden visioning project, to imagine what they want their garden to be like now that they have grown with it for two full years. Together they planned what would go in each garden bed this year. They received their truckload of compost donated by Morning Glory Farm, and delivered by John Keene (our heroes!), and have made a great start on spreading it around. Students in Robin Smith's K/1 class seeded the earliest varieties of flowers that they will grow for their new Butterfly Garden and for early vegetables and herbs. Outside, the students have already planted shell peas, transplanting leeks and lots of different types of onions, and are having fun watching their over-wintered vegetables (spinach, garlic, radishes and more) really taking off now that spring has arrived. Vineyard Hebs herbalist (and Chilmark School parent) Holly Bellabuono is working with Lizzy and the students to plan their new tea garden and to decide which herbs they want to grow for tea in their new barrel planter. Holly also worked with the students to do a taste test unit, finding out where we experience the four main tastes (sweet, sour, salty and bitter) on our tongues, and then trying it out using herbs and sea vegetables that can be found locally. Tisbury School: The Tisbury School has just received wood for a new flower bed, donated by Hinckley's (thank you, Wayne!). This garden will span the length of the fence that abuts the road behind the school in an "L" shape and add so much color to the garden. When you pass by be sure to check out what's growing! Ms. Lopes' first grade has planted radishes and peas, and will cut some bamboo for trellising to support them once they sprout. Both kindergarten classes planted zinnias and painted daisies for a cutting bed, and are hoping to organize the sale of flower bouquets this summer to benefit their class. The seventh graders are getting ready to fill their garden bed with potatoes, and herbs that rallied through the winter and are springing up in pots, along with some volunteer pansies and violas! IGS Coordinator Julie Brand is getting ready to start up the after school Garden Club this week for another great season of growing. IGS Coordinator Berni Cormie's after school Cooking program has been very successful, with growing participation and interest especially among middle school students. One of the dishes they prepared this session was mini quiches using island grown eggs donated by one of the participating students - his chickens had laid the eggs themselves! MVRHS: IGS Coordinator Kaila Binney has been working closely with Corinne Kurtz's history class to delve into sustainability issues on the island. They took three field trips to the FARM Institute, spent a day listening to a panel of local experts talking about island sustainability (Jim Athearn, Kate Warner, Mark London, and Todd Rebello), and worked in the school garden eds planting peas, lettuce, greens, strawberries, onions and leeks. The classes are now focusing on the Island Plan, with focus groups addressing the question of how the island can be sustainable in terms of energy, water, natural resources, agriculture, and more. They will be making public service announcements as final projects that will provide their own solutions to these local issues. Olsen Houghton's Leadership Class has been acting as community leaders by assisting in the community garden at Woodside Village, a low income senior housing complex across the street from the high school. They have helped weed garden beds, put up fences, built compost bins, and this week they are planting potatoes. Kaila has also been working with Olsen's class to pioneer a cross-school collaboration with Oak Bluffs School's Kindergarten and 2nd grade students--the first of what we hope will be many partnerships between high school students and elementary school students through IGS. They met for the first time at a FARM Institute field trip (3 classes - 50 kids total!) to see the baby animals and learn about composting together. The high schoolers helped guide the O.B. students around the farm, and the O.B. students taught the high schoolers about their very own worm bin they've been working with all year. In the coming weeks, the high school students will work with the Kindergarten and 2nd grade classes to plant and prepare their school garden beds. Thank you for being a part of Island Grown Schools. We couldn't do this work without our many volunteers, friends and supporters. Heartfelt thanks to the Samuel Rubin Fund, State Road Restaurant, the Delacour Family Foundation, the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center, South Mountain Company, Cronig's Market, the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation, Clif Bar Family Foundation, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and all our individual donors for funding IGS. To help sustain our program, please visit and make a donation of any size. Please be in touch with ideas, comments or suggestions, and happy spring! Noli Noli Taylor Island Grown Schools Coordinator Island Grown Initiative