July 11, 2011

Island Grown Schools Year End Report

July, 2011--Another school year has come to a close, and we are amazed by all that we, our students, teachers, school administrators, cafeteria workers, farmers, parents, chefs, volunteers, supporters, and you - have done together. Here are a few of our many shared accomplishments from the 2010-2011 school year:
  • We worked with our cafeteria directors and advocated for change within the corporate food service contract, and starting this spring, for the first time, all seven of our island schools are now sourcing locally grown and produced ingredients for their school meals.
  • We harvested over 5,000 pounds of food through our gleaning program which we delivered for free to our school kitchens and to islanders in need.
  • One of our schools got a new brand new greenhouse, we fixed up two others, and built and installed cold frames at two more schools, which means that all seven of our schools now have a way to extend their harvest season in the spring and fall. In these structures, we grew more than 1200 seedlings this spring, for our school gardens and for children to bring home to tend with their families.
  • We facilitated more than 50 field trips to island family farms.
  • We worked with teachers and administrators to further integrate food, agriculture, and garden-based learning into our schools, spending approximately 300 class periods with our students in our indoor and outdoor classrooms.
  • We supported and inspired other communities, on Nantucket, the Cape, Puerto Rico, Nebraska, and more, as they launched their own farm to school programs and learned from our experiences on the Vineyard.
Looking ahead to the next school year, we have big plans:
  • Launch Island Grown Pre-Schools, to bring garden-based learning and healthy food to our youngest island students;
  • Support the creation of a functional school kitchen at West Tisbury School, to provide fresher, healthier meals to up island students;
  • Continue regular meetings with all cafeteria directors to maximize the use of local foods in school meals, and to plan and serve four seasonal meals at all seven schools using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible;
  • Work with Wellness Committees at all our schools to build more support for healthy food at our schools and to strengthen all school Nutrition Policies;
  • Further codify our curriculum program, and work with teachers and administrators to integrate it at every school;
  • Work with local farmers to increase fall and winter production to provide more fresh, healthy food to our kids and more income to island family farmers;
  • Expand our community volunteer base, to help harvest even more food through the Island Grown Gleaning program and to continue strengthening and supporting this program at all of our island schools.
We are excited and inspired by all we have done together in these last three years. The momentum behind our program is strong. Now all we need is the funds to sustain it. You can help support our work by making a contribution of any size to IGS on our website,www.islandgrown.org/donate. Also, we just finished making an 18 minute film about IGS with Film-Truth Productions, to use as a way to help explain what we do and to inspire people to give to the program. If you are interested in seeing the film, and/or hosting a showing for your friends or neighbors, please let me know. We look forward to continuing to grow this program with you in the coming years. Please write any time with ideas, suggestions, or comments, and thank you for helping grow a new generation of Vineyarders who are connected to our local food system, empowered to making healthy eating choices, and able to grow food for themselves, their families, and our community. Noli Taylor Island Grown Schools Coordinator Island Grown Initiative www.islandgrown.org