June 12, 2018

The Chilmark School Farm Stand is Open for Business!

Our school gardens are multi-purpose -  we grow crops to snack on, to connect to curriculum, to encourage  healthy eating, to enhance cafeteria offerings, and to save seed. At the Chilmark school we  also grow crops to sell at our annual Farm Stand led by the 2nd and 3rd grade! We'll have the stand set up on  Tuesdays in June from 2:30 to 3:30Here's how it works:

We started planning for our farm stand all the way back in March. We picked out early producing varieties from seed catalogues and made a planting calendar according to when our our farm stand start dates. 

After amending our soil, we direct seeded carrots, lettuce, kale, radishes, and turnips in succession plantings. We were lucky to have some cilantro that seeded itself from last year! We also transplanted beets, more kale, and more lettuce. 

Every week In our garden journals we kept track of our crops' growth - the students especially loved seeing how fast the turnips grew. And now that spring has made our gardens lush, it's time to set up the farm stand. 

From the garden students harvest baby lettuce, snip cilantro stems for bunches, and pluck turnips and radishes when the tops are showing. Not only do we sell some crops from our own school garden, we also buy wholesale from partnering farms in order to pack up and sell. This is a fun way to practice real life skills like weighing in ounces and pounds (8 oz bags of greens or 1 lb bunches of kale) as well as farming skills like washing and drying eggs. 

While one group of students harvest and pack vegetables, another group of students are tasked with setting up the farm stand. We start with a walk to the MV Savings bank for some change, then get to work setting up the tables and putting on table clothes, write prices on chalkboards, put flowers in ball jars, and place money in the cash register. The kids love practicing counting and exchanging money - something they don't do very often in our modern world. 

Once each group is finished with their task for the day, every student makes a thank you card for our customers. A rotating group of 2nd and 3rd graders stay after school to help sell and clean up. It is a real treat seeing students bringing home bok choi on the bus to their families, and neighbors from the town library and bank across the street buying produce from our garden. 

Finally, we owe a huge thank you to Morning Glory Farm, Thimble Farm, and the Allen Farm for helping our students raise money for the garden. We hope the Chilmark school Farm Stand will be a long standing tradition!

Katie Ruppel

Curriculum Coordinator for the West Tisbury and Chilmark Schools