Farm to School Club Seeds Learning at BFA Fairfax

Last spring, the Farm to School garden was tilled and planted. While this activity required literal seeds, it also sparked figurative seeds, as students began to imagine how a farm at school might impact their education. A Farm to School (FTS) club was created and 30 students attended the initial meeting.

fts1

The students, under the guidance of teacher Fred Griffin and led by 11th grade BFA student Shannon Mahoney, developed a vision for the garden that included not only a vegetable garden to supply fresh produce to the cafeteria, but also a sugarhouse, an orchard, an aviary, a pond, and solar and wind power. The student leaders presented their vision to the school board and the rest of the student body.

Excitement for the concept grew as students considered the educational possibilities that might result. In addition to meeting science proficiencies (soil pH, germination) students might demonstrate proficiency in math (what is the yield per square foot of garden), history (what is a heritage garden and is it effective today), marketing (how can we increase vegetable consumption in our school), communication, problem solving, and self-direction through their research and labor.

At the same time, Mr. Griffin made a connection with Jane Sorenson from the University of Vermont’s College of Agriculture. They discussed the possibility of working together with students to determine the feasibility of the student vision. Their conversations led to the creation of a high school course focused on Farm to School.

“It’s exciting, it’s very interesting. We can take it as far as students and the townspeople want it to.”-Teacher Fred Griffin

The class meets every day to help to develop the “Farm to School Farm” which includes the current garden and as many of the items from the original student vision as are feasible. The class started by researching and creating heritage and sustainability in Vermont farming. The next project was to create and distribute a survey to gather information from students, teachers and community members about their hopes, interests, support and concerns about a Farm to School Farm at BFA. The class will use the data from the survey as they continue to develop their plan.

Last weekend, the FTS club harvested the crops they had planted in the spring. They gathered 205 squash and over 100 onions. The vegetables will be used in the cafeteria for soups and other meals which will help to meet part of Farm to School’s mission to serve the Cafeteria, Classroom, and Community

“Students were very excited when they saw the squash harvest” – Shannon Mahoney Farm to School Club president

fts2The next steps are to plant garlic for a summer harvest and build a greenhouse to get ready for spring planting. The FTS club has a goal to transform the space into the Farm to School Farm within the next two years. Community support and questions are welcome at any time as we work to enhance educational opportunities for BFA students.
fts3Shannon Mahoney, Farm to School Club president, stands in what will be the Farm to School Farm Production Garden in 2017. Garlic, onions, squash, potatoes, and salad “fixin’s” will be on their way to our school cafeteria!


Target 2. Leadership – FWSU students and staff lead innovative, personalized learning opportunities, both locally and globally.

Indicators of Success for this Target: Students and staff act as coaches, facilitators, collaborators, and co-learners in a personalized learning environment; Students and staff design and implement plans together; Students and staff monitor their initiatives and reflect together; Students and staff lead as engaged and responsible citizens; Students explore greater understanding of community, social issues, and the self in community; Student voice has the power to impact the perceptions of others.

Action Steps:  Ensure students take a leadership role in their learning using rich, authentic questions, problems they identify, and diverse resources to formulate solutions; Shift teacher roles from director of teaching to facilitator of learning.

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