Vermont School Garden

A visit to a Vermont public school garden through the seasons.

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We’ll Miss Our Sixth Graders

Two sixth grade boys worked hard yesterday to weed some of the invasive lamb’s quarters from our garden. We will miss sixth graders, Dan and Zach as they move on to middle school. They’ve worked hard in the garden. Below, Dan shows Zach how to recognize a weed from a garden plant.

In the background you can see mini flags flying from the tomato stakes. Each sixth grader made a flag describing one memory of playing learning and working in our all school garden. They were posted as a leave-taking gift to the school. Come and read some if you have a chance this summer.

Dan showing Zach how to weedweeding boys


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Fourth Graders Ending the Year by Giving

Yesterday a group of fourth graders used  their recess time to plant two flowering  rose bushes under our school sign. They raised the money for the roses by selling marigolds and basil plants, a project started from seed in conjunction with the After School Program. Fourth graders recycled milk cartons at lunch  to use as planting containers and volunteered their recess time  last spring to transplant and sell seedlings to students at school. Their teacher, Nancy Bladyka helped them buy the bushes. The rose bushes needed composted manure for their transplanting. I knew where to find that…at Goodell farm, just down the road from school. (The same farm that donated the baling twine last summer.) I drove down there and arrived just as the family was having a meeting (all seven of them) in the barn. They were happy to give me as many bags of manure as I needed. This is the great and generous spirit of the town of Westminster.

In addition to the roses, our school sign was given a facelift by Laurie Bolotin, teacher and perennial grower. She saw a need to renew the garden under the school sign and she donated healthy hardy perennials to its beautification. Many thanks, Laurie! Laurie’s perennials can be found at Rockingham and Brattleboro farmers’ markets in the summer. Look for “Morningstar Perennials,” OR go to!4th graders putting in roses at sign

Grade 4 plantng donated rose bushesserious 4th graders

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After School Planting

Our After School students have been very active in the garden this spring. Last week a team of them planted two 75 foot long rows of sweet pepper plants. They worked together to plant each tiny seedling about a foot from its neighbor. The peppers will be ready to harvest during the last part of summer camp and into the fall. These hard working students also dug holes for the rest of the tomato stakes (63 in all) that we needed to support our newly planted tomatoes.Garrett and ASP Peppers Junedigging tomato stakesstakes in peppers planted

planting peppers in teams

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Final Project

Did you know that Indiana’s state plant is mint? Neither did I. Did you know, if you’re making mint brownies for a project about Indiana and you don’t have mint extract, that finely diced mint leaves work just as well as extract?

mint leaves for browniesmixing in the mint

pouring the brownie batterNeither did I, but I’m always willing to try something new, so when Abby asked me to help her with her fifth grade presentation, I was flattered and happy to experiment with mint leaf brownies. These brownies were delicious! We substituted about 2 tablespoons of finely diced fresh  spearmint leaves for one teaspoon of extract. A small mint leaf was placed upon each brownie served to Abby’s class after her Indiana report was given!Brownie caption

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Sprucing Up the Courtyard

A number of years ago, we had a very warm and nurturing Kindergarten teacher named Vicky. She was inspired to create a garden world with her class in the courtyard outside our hallway and library. Vicky has since left us to teach in Wyoming, but her legacy remains, complete with a small pond. Unfortunately the weeds had taken over much of the little garden. The pond fountain was down and much attention was needed to bring the garden back. This longterm project was taken on by fourth grader, Annaleeza, who noticed the neglect. Annaleeza is a natural gardener. As the spring flowers began to arrive, the weeds did as well, cluttering the paths and the flowers. During many of her recess times this spring, Annaleeza and I herded the strawberries into one bed.creating a strawberry bed We divided perennials; they love being divided when they’re mature!


Our terrific custodian, Jeff, found the missing pieces to the fountain and reattached them to make it work again. A few days ago, Annalezza tasted her first ripe strawberry! The courtyard garden has come a long way in her care.Annaleeza and the hosta

Annaleeza's strawberry

new fountainmaking a border centurium


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planting squash 3 sisters

The fourth graders got an early start to planting their fall crop last week. They met their new teachers and they laid the groundwork for a study of the native american three sisters garden. Teamwork will be one of the important curriculum umbrellas for their fifth grade teachers next year and interdependence is one of the overriding themes of ‘ three sisters” growing practices. In three rows with nine hills in each row, teams of students planted corn, squash and beans. Next year they’ll discover the relevance of this planting and perhaps see it as a metaphor for learning together! In the meantime, we have to keep the weeds from overtaking the new corn bean and squash plants.

Planting celery gr 5

grade 1 and 6 plant potatoesK hands planting squashThe entire Westminster Center School came out to plant their crop for next year on May 31st. Each class got a lesson from our incredible sponsor farmer, Paul Harlow, who has led this planting day ritual for 25 years! He often interjected a math problem for students to solve. In this case, there were 150 celery plants in the tray he was holding. If each row were 75 feet long and the plants needed to be spaced 12 inches apart, how many rows could be planted from that tray of celery plants? Each time a problem was posed, a hush fell on the circle of students. You could almost hear them computing. If they weren’t the ones who came up with the correct answer, students definitely got a good sense of how much math computation is involved in farming. Squash needed to be planted 2 feet apart. How many inches was that? Show an approximate foot with your hands. How can you measure eight inches with your hand span?

Sixth grade students will not be harvesting next fall. We’ll miss them as they go on to middle school elsewhere. They helped the first graders plant a crop of potatoes. I want to give the sixth graders an opportunity to leave behind a memory of the garden written on flags that will fly from our tomato stakes this summer. Many of these students have been cultivating our garden since they were in Kindergarten.

The basil that was started from seed in our After School Program and transplanted into recycled milk containers by our fourth grade was planted by fourth graders in our kitchen garden.

Popcorn will again  be on the weekly school snack menu next year, thanks to plantings done with the third grade class on planting day! Second graders planted tomatoes. Some will be used in our salad bar at lunchtime next fall. Roma tomatoes will be used to make sauce for science/cooking classes.

Early in  the day, one of our wonderful Kindergarten teachers, Valerie Kosednar, led us in the traditional song, ” Oats Peas Beans and Barley Grow.” Do you or I or anyone know how oats, peas, beans and barley grow?

Planting basil grade 42nd plant tomatoes

Popcorn planting lesson